When Frank Lampard was announced as Chelsea’s new manager in the summer it was an appointment that many, particularly outside of the club, felt was purely based on the fact there was a transfer embargo in place and therefore the position wasn’t that attractive to big names. Fast forward to today though and it’s apparent that Lampard is doing a good job with a decent squad.
In fact, he’s completing such good work with his side that should Chelsea secure a top-four position come May then the ex-England midfielder could well be in discussions for the Manager of the Season gong.
Bringing through the youth
Lampard has put his faith in Chelsea’s younger players with the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount particularly standing out. Many people will come back to the embargo and say it’s been done as a ‘needs must’ situation but that’s not strictly true when you look at the information available.
If you take Eden Hazard out of the equation, who you can argue was semi-replaced by Christan Pulisic, whose pace could compete with a stallion in the Kentucky Derby horse race, it’s only really David Luiz who has left the club as an experienced regular. Yet under Maurizio Sarri youngsters such as Callum Hudson-Odoi could barely get a look in so, whilst the squad has a youthful feel about it, Lampard could go with a more experienced line up if he so wanted.
He’s getting the big calls right
At the start of the campaign Lampard came in for criticism for selling Luiz to Arsenal for a cut price £8.5m with most feeling it was an unnecessary loss of a ‘leader’ and wise head. Look at things today though and Lamps has been fully vindicated by his decision; Luiz has endured a torrid start to life at the Emirates where he has been making mistake after mistake and at Chelsea Fikayo Tomori, who was on loan at Lampard’s Derby last season, has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water.
The other big question mark over Lampard in September – and particularly after the 4-0 loss at Manchester United – is his choice to play Abraham instead of World Cup winning Oliver Giroud. Again, Lampard insisted that Abraham is more suited to the style he wanted, and that faith has been rewarded no end with the ex-Aston Villa loanee bagging 10 goals already this campaign to put him amongst the leagues top scorers.
Under Sarri Chelsea actually achieved some decent results and lifted silverware in the shape of the Europa League but the style of play was an issue with ‘ponderous’ and ‘boring’ are two words that spring to mind. Lampard has instilled a different way of playing and his team play quick football with an emphasis on attacking; it’s true that the backdoor is sometimes left open and that might hurt them in big games against ruthless opposition but it’s a joy to watch for the Blues support whose only excitement over the last year or two was a sparkling display from Hazard.
Ultimately, football is a results-based business though and, if you look at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Man United, you’ll see that youth plus half decent football will only get you so much goodwill.
Thankfully, Lampard has, so far, managed to combine the three factors and if he can sustain that through to May then his team will finish in the top four and, depending on the form of others, they might even mount a title fight. It is also worth mentioning the campaign in Champions League, with the Blues having European football already guaranteed to continue. Matches against Valencia and Lille are crucial for their aspirations, though. Lampard is the one to blame for Chelsea being battling on the two fronts.