Expectation – the nemesis of every manager to have ever been at the home dugout of Stamford Bridge. Ever since Roman Abramovich acquired Chelsea Football Club in 2003, there’s been a hire-fire policy adopted when it comes to managers. 13 of them (including interims) in 16 years proves just this.
One of the major reasons for this is the burden of expectation. Rightly so, as well. However much ever this policy is criticised, it has yielded 18 trophies in 16 years with a meagre 4 seasons without a trophy. Well, its a Chelsea thing, as they say.
Moving onto the topic at hand, what can we as fans expect from the forthcoming season under Frank Lampard?
The return of arguably one of the biggest legends in our history has certainly brought back the feel good factor back within the club, as he is someone who gets the club and what it takes to make it here.
With the loss of our star player and poster-boy Eden Hazard to Real Madrid and a transfer ban, we should keep our expectation for the season realistic. The squad itself is ageing and in need of a rebuild, but with the young blood in the squad waiting to be injected into the first team, we could see a rise of new and unlikely stars. The signing of Christian Pulisic is a certain positive to look forward to.
However, being brutally honest, our squad is nowhere near the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool. Contending for a place in the Champions League should certainly be our aim, as Champions League football is essential to attract big name signings next summer. Given Arsenal’s restricted finances and the rebuild at Manchester United, we could be locked in an intruiging battle for top 4 next season. Spurs probably have the third best squad and manager in the league but their nature could see us battling for 3rd position as well.
Along with this, a push for another trophy such as the FA Cup or Carabao Cup could also be expected. Progressing deep into the Champions League may not be possible looking at how the European elites are strengthening this transfer window.
Apart from the results, other expectations include youth integration, getting rid of below par players and the style of football being used. We definitely will see youth integration with several former Chelsea youth coaches forming part of Lampard’s backroom staff. Getting rid of incompetent players has long been a problem at Chelsea owing to ‘player power’. We shall wait to see if Frank is successful in this aspect, as we are still very early into preseason.
Sarri was often criticised by the Chelsea faithful for playing ‘boring football’. Lampard did play a similar style of progressive football, but was more cautious last season at Derby. But, with due respect, this could be down to the quality and ability of the players. Going by Lampard’s press conferences, we could be treated to attractive, one touch football. However he is tactically flexible and astute. While many compare his appointment to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United, I prefer to compare this appointment to that of Pochettino at Tottenham. Pochettino too, is flexible and changes formations and style of play depending on the fixture and their position in the match. He also played an important role in integrating youth into an ageing squad, a position which we are in right now. It also remains to be seen where Lampard deploys Kante and Jorginho, for which Maurizio Sarri was heavily reprimanded by the British media.
All in all, it never is a dull day at Chelsea Football Club. Another season, another rollercoaster ride. We just have to sit back and enjoy the ups, and get behind the manager during the downs.