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Frank Lampard: The Destined One

The coronavirus enforced break has allowed Chelsea fans to reflect upon an inconsistent yet exhilarating 19/20 season. Chelsea has e...

The coronavirus enforced break has allowed Chelsea fans to reflect upon an inconsistent yet exhilarating 19/20 season. Chelsea has experienced many highs, including wins at Tottenham and Arsenal, and many lows, which was expected given the circumstances surrounding the season. Nevertheless, on the whole, it is fair to say Chelsea have performed above expectations so far this season.

One man whom I believe deserves more praise for this is Chelsea Head Coach, Frank Lampard. Lampard has often found himself on the wrong end of criticism this season; a result of Chelsea’s good early season which raised the dim possibility of a title challenge. Nonetheless, there seems to be a lack of credit and respect for the work Frank Lampard has undergone this season. 

I alluded to the circumstances in which Chelsea was confronted with at the start of the season; the loss of Eden Hazard, the transfer ban and a squad littered with deadwood. While fans acknowledge these difficulties Frank Lampard faced, the severity of the challenges has not been truly appreciated.

The loss of Eden Hazard, Chelsea’s match-winner and talisman who was responsible for scoring or assisting almost half of Chelsea’s 63 Premier League goals under Maurizio Sarri, is something that regularly fails to be mentioned with the same magnitude as it should. 

In layman’s terms, Chelsea lost almost 50% of their attacking output – take roughly 50% out of any side in world football and watch them suffer on the offensive front. The fact that Chelsea currently lay 4th in the Premier League is a testament to the work Lampard and his backroom staff have put in this season. 

The challenge was then furthered by the inability to replace the Belgian wizard or any member of the squad who was not up to the required standard. The facts do not lie, Chelsea is the only Premier League club not to have spent a penny on signings this season. 

When you compare that figure – or lack thereof – to the clubs competing for the top 4, it sheds light upon an impressive season for Lampard. Manchester United, who are 3 points worse off than Chelsea, spent £216m, while fellow members of the top 6 Tottenham and Arsenal spent £156m and £138m, respectively. Consider the fact Chelsea are 6 and 8 points ahead of Tottenham and Arsenal, and you may reconsider your opinion of Frank Lampard’s first season as head coach at Chelsea. 

Chelsea’s injury problems have added an extra level of difficulty in what can only be described as an already challenging season. For whatever reason, the media have not considered the significance of Chelsea’s injury list on their inconsistent performances in the same way as they have done for other managers. Jose Mourinho has often been given the benefit of the doubt at Tottenham due to the injuries of Harry Kane and Son. 

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Lampard and Chelsea. Although Frank is culpable of rotating his squad too often, Chelsea has been unable to field a consistent 11 because of a mounting injury list. 

And the number of injuries is not the biggest concern; the quality of player missing is. N’golo Kante, one of Chelsea’s most influential players over the last 3 seasons, has been restricted to just 18 Premier League appearances, while Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic have managed just 6 appearances between them this year. Additionally, Chelsea has been without dynamic midfielder, Loftus-Cheek for the whole season and reoccurring injuries to Tammy Abraham have derailed his early-season form. 

Despite the circumstances, Frank has Chelsea in fourth place and into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and has shown glimpses of a top-class manager in the making. Man-managing is such an important attribute of any elite coach, and Frank has showcased glimpses of world-class man managing skills. The way in which Frank has handled Pulisic, Christensen and Kepa has been superb and has led to an improvement in all of their performances. Additionally, Frank has managed to bring the best out of Kovacic, Jorginho and Willian, which is no mean feat given Willian’s attitude towards Chelsea’s last two managers. 

While a lot has been made of Lampard’s shortfalls, Frank Lampard has demonstrated an impressive level of tactical acumen at many points throughout the season. Wins over Ajax and Tottenham (twice) are just some of the matches in which Lampard showcased a supreme level of tactical knowledge. When you take into account all 3 performances against Liverpool and the brave but unrewarding performance against Manchester City, it is fair to say Frank has illustrated a high-level of tactical knowledge, with obvious room for improvement. 

I am in no way suggesting that Frank is the complete product just yet. For Frank to reach the next level and establish himself as a world-class coach, he must improve upon the obvious shortcomings that have been brutally exposed this season. 

Chelsea’s issues at Stamford Bridge against lesser teams are well-known, and the Champions League performances have been poor – barring the performance against Ajax in Amsterdam. However, these issues may be down to a lack of quality and experience in the squad, rather than poor management by Frank. 

What has been most concerning is the defensive issues that have hindered Frank’s side all season. Chelsea has already conceded as many goals as they did in the entirety of last season and have only kept 6 clean sheets; 10 less than last season’s total. Yes, Kepa can be partially blamed for the defensive issues, but Chelsea’s defensive organisation has at times been woeful, and the issues from defensive set-pieces are obvious and must be addressed. 

On the whole, Frank Lampard has undergone a good first season as Chelsea Head Coach. In light of the circumstances, Chelsea faced coming into the season, finishing in the top 4 and a good cup run would represent a relatively successful season; Frank is on course to succeed in both of those areas. While Lampard still has something to prove in the dugout, in what is only his second season as a manager, it is fair to say that he deserves more credit for the work he has done at Stamford Bridge so far. Frank has demonstrated that he has potential to be one of the best coaches in the future, and if the shortfalls of this season are addressed, we may see Chelsea benefit from Lampard’s growth as early as next season. 

Written by - @ffierro_

1 comment

  1. We share a lot of sentiments with regards to the season thus far. Good job