Author: Ashley Munson
The rumours have been circulating for a while that the hierarchy at Chelsea are plotting a move to make former midfield maestro Frank Lampard their next manager. The news of Maurizio Sarri departing for Italian champions Juventus has sliced the odds on the deal materialising with, Lampard now heavy favourite on to be next in the Stamford Bridge hot seat.
Lampard is currently in charge at Derby County in the Championship and the Rams Chairman Mel Morris has denied receiving any approach from Chelsea but there is rarely smoke without fire and Lampard is definitely a name in the frame. The question is should he be? Or, more to the point, should he take it if offered?
Since Roman Abramovich invested in millions in the Blues they’ve had enormous amounts of success and it’s arguable that any new manager would be coming into the toughest set up faced by a manager during the Russian’s time in charge. Maurizio Sarri achieved a third place finish – behind record breaking sides Manchester City and Liverpool – and saw his team conquer Europa League glory.
Still, whilst the axe never came down on him the question marks were there and very few supporters were sorry to see him go. If you throw into the mix that their star player, Eden Hazard, has moved on to Real Madrid and the fact they’re unable to bring in any new talent due to a transfer embargo, remains tough to see what more can be achieved in the upcoming season. They have secured Christian Pulisic in the winter transfer market, but it will hardly be enough to fill in Hazard’s boots.
Lampard proved himself to be a competent manager during his first season as a coach but it’s important not to get carried away with his results; anything other than the play-offs would have been a disappointing outcome for Derby. At the end of the day, they’ll still be a Championship team come August – that’s the cold hard facts of it.
Look beyond his results though and you can see why he’s being touted as a future Chelsea manager; his team plays a decent style of football, which is built from the back and looks to get his attacking players close to one another in the final third, doing so with sharp passing and good off the ball movement.
This will be a huge plus point given the criticism that was directed at Sarri over his ‘boring’ ‘Sarriball’ approach. The other big positive for Lampard is his willingness to give youth a chance; Chelsea have the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi amongst their current first team squad, but they weren’t nearly utilised enough by Sarri.
In addition, Lampard worked with some of Chelsea’s young talent last year in the form of Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori. There is nothing to guarantee any of those mentioned would feature under Lampard at Chelsea, but everyone would know they would get a crack if they were ready and that emphasis on throwing the youth in could be critical with the transfer embargo looming over them.
The fans would gladly back ‘Super Frank’ after his thirteen-year stint at the club as a player, which saw him head across the pond to ply his trade in MLS. However, in a country where the focus is all on the NFL Superbowl and the NBA playoffs, he didn’t actually got the recognition he deserved in New York City FC and he hung up his boots in 2016, with an unbelievable record of 274 career goals – a number that just speaks by itself, if you think that he didn’t play in a forward position.
He surely has a place in the Chelsea history books secured – the clubs all time record scorer – and even a loan to league rivals Man City couldn’t dampen the Blues’ love for him, but what is the expectation?
If Lampard is expected to challenge for the title with no Hazard and no new faces arriving, then he could quickly find himself back managing in the Championship. Equally the opportunity to re-build his beloved club with the fans on side could quite easily be an opportunity that comes around once in a lifetime; for Lampard it seems a no-brainer, but for the club, it’s a risk but one they seem determined to take.