Frank Lampard is a cult hero at Stamford Bridge after becoming Chelsea’s record goalscorer during 13 trophy-laden seasons at the club. He found the back of the net 211 times in all competitions, despite playing in midfield, and he secured an enviable haul of winner’s medals. Yet Lampard is now putting his legacy on the line by stepping in as Chelsea’s new manager at a time when the club is arguably destined to regress.
The Blues sold star player Eden Hazard to Real Madrid in the summer and they were unable to replace him due to a two-window transfer ban for breaching regulations when signing youth players. Maurizio Sarri left to take over as manager at Juventus, and Lampard was parachuted in to replace him.
He has been forced to turn to youngsters in order to plug significant gaps in the squad he has inherited, and the initial results have been underwhelming. Chelsea have taken just one point from their opening two games, they already have a -4 goal difference and the market leading betting websites now make them massive outsiders to finish in the top four.
Some fans are already calling for his head on social media, arguing that he lacks the managerial experience to make a success of the role. Yet those calls seem extremely premature.
Lampard may yet go from hero to zero among the Chelsea faithful, but it is unfair to judge him on the opening fortnight of the season. In fact, it is probably unfair to judge him too harshly if the Blues struggle throughout the entire 2019/20 campaign.
Chelsea are famous for making aggressive moves in the transfer market since Roman Abramovich bought the club 15 years ago. He has lavished a fortune on the club and it has proved remarkably successful.
During Lampard’s time in the Chelsea engine room, they won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two EFL Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League.
Since Lampard left the club – he played a few games for Man City and New York FC before hanging up his boots – they have won another two league titles, the FA Cup and the Europa League. Yet Chelsea have had to spend a fortune in the transfer window to accumulate such a formidable trophy cabinet. Now they are unable to spend a penny and that is bound to affect
results on the pitch.
Last season, Hazard directly contributed to more Premier League goals than any other player. If he was on the pitch in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Leicester, you would have fancied the Blues to win the game. He leaves a massive hole in the team and Lampard has been forced to plug it with youngsters like Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham. They are exciting talents, but they are a long way off Hazard’s level.
Meanwhile, stalwarts Willian and Pedro are slowing down, Olivier Giroud is not a prolific striker and Chelsea will struggle to match last season’s goals tally. They have offloaded David Luiz and they were unable to bolster their defence in the summer, so they may be punished at the back. This is inevitable when a club is hit with a transfer ban.
You need new players to arrive, freshen the dynamic within the squad and create ferocious competition for places. Chelsea’s rivals have strengthened significantly this summer, and Lampard was unable to follow suit.
This should really be considered a transition season. Next summer, they will be blessed with a talented crop of youngsters that have plenty of Premier League experience under their belts, and Abramovich can go out and spent £200 million bolstering the squad. Then you can judge Lampard if he fails to finish in the top four and secure silverware, but this season he should be given time to work his magic with this intriguing group of young players.