As the dust settles on super Frank’s return to the bridge, we’ve seen somewhat of a poor but promising start to his reign.
Chelsea find themselves with one point from two matches and this tough start could have been expected after Lampard’s appointment back in July. I personally see a difficult season ahead for the Blues, but they’ve certainly shown some glimpses of their quality thus far.
They were very impressive against Liverpool in the Super Cup and though, ultimately, they lost the game, there were many positives to take away. Kante’s presence was the major difference on the day and they looked far more comfortable than the side who lost 4-0 at Old Trafford, only a few days prior. Unfortunately, Chelsea have become somewhat of a poisoned chalice in recent years and it is difficult to not ask the question: how long? How long does Chelsea’s record goalscorer, arguably their best ever player, have to leave another mark on the London club?
When you think of the current situation at Chelsea, you could be reminded of Harvey Dent from Batman, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”; never has something resonated more with the return of Chelsea’s very own superhero.
In terms of his ability as a manager, it’s way too early to make a judgement and not just at Chelsea but as a manager in general. With one year’s experience and little in terms of coaching behind him, there’s still much to learn, with the Chelsea job maybe coming too soon. This job could not only tarnish his great name amongst the Chelsea faithful but one that started with some major obstacles.
For every manager since the arrival of Roman Abramovich, there’s been a sea of expectation, which often leaves job security something to be feared. The Premier League title is seemingly the only assurance of avoiding a dreaded P45. However, even with the quick-to-fire philosophy in the past, I cannot envisage a world in which Lampard has been expected to bring home the Premier League this year.
It’s the transfer embargo which could see Chelsea and Lampard struggle this season. Every manager wants to make their own stamp, bring their own style to the club and without new faces, it can become difficult. For those Football Manager fans out there, I don’t know many who’d tick Disable Summer Transfer Window and I can’t imagine Lampard would have done the same if he had the choice.
However, it’s not a transfer embargo or fear of sacking which could prove to be super Frank’s greatest adversary this season, it’s not Bane or even the Joker, it’s a 5ft 9” Belgian or lack of which could prove detrimental. With the loss of Eden Hazard this summer, Chelsea have lost their only game-changer. Other than Kanté in recent years, Chelsea have been lacking in World Class footballers, with Hazard more often than not the team’s saviour. How many times have we seen Hazard win his side all three points, often doing so with a solo run and or fine finish? It cannot be a coincidence that in the 2015/16 season, in which Hazard recorded his fewest appearances, the club finished 10th.
He’s bailed his side out time and time again, but who will Chelsea look for to save the day this season? I’m not sure Pulisic or Mount are ready to take on such a burden, with Pedro far past his best. Already we’ve seen Chelsea lack that something special going forward, with Sunday’s draw a prime example. A game which shifted out of Chelsea’s favour in the second half, they lacked that spark to kill the Foxes off and record their first win of the season.
But don’t worry Chelsea fans, it’s not all doom and gloom. One key strength, something the current squad has in abundance, is a winning mentality. We rarely see Chelsea trophyless come the end of the season, something no different during Lampard’s playing career, and it’s this mentality which could prove his greatest asset.
He’s also inherited something which may change the way we look at Chelsea all together. Mount and Abraham are already key cogs in the Frank Lampard plan, and for once you can see the youth of Chelsea making a real impact. With Jody Morris by his side, the Robin to his Batman, he has someone who knows the academy inside and out. I expect to see a lot of promising players given a chance this season and it will be interesting to see the starting XI come the end of the campaign. Together, if they can develop these players correctly, we may see another class of ‘92 on our hands; a core ready-built for the next decade.
Give him two or three seasons, a few transfer windows and something special could be seen at Stamford Bridge. A side that won’t need rebuilding each summer and, in the process, provide some much-needed longevity which Chelsea have lacked in a manager during the Premier League era. Potentially a Manchester United-esque reign could be on the cards.
Lampard will have to start delivering results sooner rather than later for his beloved Blues, but this is certainly a season that will define his legacy as a manager at Stamford Bridge in increasing his heroic stature or potentially even departing the club with memories of misfortune attached to his great name.
Will Lampard remain a hero or leave the club a villain?