“Everybody’s different, but he (Klopp) has had time and opportunity to bring in players for his style and the way he wants to play. So that’s an incredible story. So when it comes to Ole or myself, you do want time and you do want put all those things in place: young players that take time to develop and get better, recruitment, which will be hugely important over the next two windows, and we hope, not in trying to follow a Liverpool model, that we get things right and we move forward.” – Frank Lampard, January 2020
It has been a year, a month and another seventeen days since Frank Lampard was seen fit to be appointed Chelsea manager. In hindsight, it will be remembered as a season where the prodigal son returned to get a structurally struggling side to make it to the Top 4. Four competitions and a pandemic later – we are there. This brief window between seasons might serve as the pivot from where we will analyze his legacy. For I understand how this club works, and for I understand this isn’t the 80’s United, I know no matter you are our all-time highest goalscorer or not, you are always half a season away from sacking.
However, in all our support and analysis of Frank’s managerial start at the Bridge, it is easy to come to conclusions. Roughly four months into the start of the season, Roy Keane vouched for United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in an argument in which he prompted that the fans/pundits go easy on Frank because he’s English. This vouch from the Irishman brought into light an-age old debate of the local bias. All Lampard had to do was let his team play, and point for him whether he is a victim or a culprit of the bias.
With Werner and Ziyech announced, and a certain German apparently traveling on foot from Leverkusen to Lampard, footballing Gods and fans alike urged for defensive reinforcements to be signed. Ben Chilwell, Declan Rice and Lewis Dunk came into the picture. The fans, many of those Chelsea loyalists, brought the Keane argument back. And with it – Mount’s game time and Abraham’s rise.
While Lampard signing an American, a German and a Moroccan till now should be a fair end to this ‘bias’ debate, I don’t feel it does enough justice to the man-in-charge. Despite Jody Morris’ five minutes of fame through his deleted tweets, fans forget how close the decisions really are in football. And if you are a manager who was involved in the greatest side the club has fielded, maybe respecting your instinct should be a given. xG, scatter plots, graphs and charts should take a back seat when the man-in-charge knows what he’s doing and has done enough to firstly, better our expectations, and secondly, deliver (with Marina) our best transfer season in over a decade.
For instance – the left-back conundrum. The question which started with Reguilon, Telles, Tagliafico and Chiwell – might finally have an answer. Tracing it back to his nationality, however, is a huge stretch. The gaffer knows what he wants and even if he’s going for the Leicester man because what his nationality brings to the personality – no language barrier, PL experience, national team favourite – the conundrum means nothing when we win. A lot of top managers have adopted a style of play where they have preferred people from a certain land. Wenger’s Arsenal, Guardiola’s Barcelona, Pardew’s 2011-12 Newcastle – have all dominated both style and personality. What the worst merit to the argument is that Frank doesn’t even boast such a squad. The learning here is to support him – even if he does.
In our quest for bringing in world-class players and retaining our lost relevance in Europe’s elite, it is inevitable to use the term – ‘build a spine’. While Courtois and Costa prolonged our any recent efforts in doing so, the last time we had one – we had some of the world’s absolute best. We didn’t have English left-back Ashley Cole, we had one of the world’s premium left-backs – Ashley Cole. We didn’t have an Ivorian Drogba, we had an all-out big game player – Drogba. Where from and how they landed at the Bridge was lost upon most of us. And except for Willian whose flight Tottenham bought, it shall never matter again.
Images of a young Frank sitting for an interview alongside his manager Harry Redknapp still look fresh for it spoke so loudly of. It is only a realization of the football world – in it’s fair and brutal self – that he now sits on the seat to his left. If anyone, he knows what it is to build a team and believe in individuals. That is where it isn’t his third season in charge. I would have used this interview’s example while defending most managers, and to think it is of the man in the original video – it is fair to say the noise on Twitter has short-lived memories.
Havertz’s arrival, Chilwell or Reguilon, Declan Rice at DM or CB or West Ham, midfield combination, Werner as a solo striker, Kante as lone DM – Frank has more questions than he could answer in a book. But he isn’t going to sit down and write anyway. He’ll leave that to me, you, and temporary Jody bursts. What Frank would do anyway is show up at Cobham every day to look at what Chelsea is building and realise – that these really are unprecedented times.
Do you think there is bias for or against Frank Lampard? Let us know in the comments below!