Frank Lampard was appointed Chelsea manager last summer on a three-year deal to take over from Italian tactician Maurizio Sarri at Stamford Bridge. Lampard joined Chelsea from Derby County, where he started his managerial career last season, taking the Rams to the Championship playoff final where they lost to Aston Villa.
Upon his arrival, he had to cope with many challenges as the new Chelsea boss. Some of these challenges included losing Eden Hazard, who was arguably the best player in the Premier League to Spanish giants Real Madrid and a transfer ban. As a result, many pundits believed it was a huge gamble to appoint Lampard. He was inexperienced. It was a big question of how he was going to cope with the transfer ban given to Chelsea by FIFA, preventing the club from registering new players. That was a massive blow to Lampard.
Assessment of Lampard so far this season
Frank Lampard took over the club at a difficult time and deserved all the plaudits. Most other young managers would have hesitated not to take charge of a big club in such circumstances. Lampard endured a poor start to life as a Chelsea boss suffering a humiliating 4-0 defeat against Manchester United in the opening day of the season.
He also lost to Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup final but later turned a corner, showing glimpses of his coaching philosophy as a long term manager. There is something wonderfully simple about Lampard so far this season. Chelsea boasts one of the best football academies in the world. However, they have frequently received criticism for failing to use their young stars enough. Lampard, on the other hand, has shown that he is not afraid to use younger players who deserved playing time aided by the club’s transfer ban.
Lampard has filled his starting eleven with youth products from the academy. The likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James, Callum Hudson Odoi, and Billy Gilmour are all critical members of Lampard’s team. Lampard, from the beginning of the season, has shown that he is fearless and not afraid of taking risks by playing inexperienced players. Chelsea’s style play has been quite attractive under Lampard so far.
The quick passing football and the player movements have been much faster this season in comparison to last season. Chelsea’s play has been delighted to watch so far this season, and it will even get better next season since the transfer ban is no more in effect. It is fair to say Lampard can become a great attacking manager like Pep Guardiola in the future. Lampard has not stuck to only one formation this season. He started the season with a 4-2-3-1 but has occasionally altered it all together for a 3-4-2-1 system. Lampard’s man-management has arguably had a significant impact on youngsters. Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, and Recce James have all shown definite improvement under Lampard.
Frank Lampard has managed the Kepa Arrizabalaga goalkeeping situation very well and that of Olivier Giroud in particular.
What next for Lampard?
Chelsea is currently fourth on the league table and maybe having an inconsistent season so far. However, credit should go to Lampard for doing a decent job so far. Chelsea is now in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League, although they lost the first leg at home to Bayern Munich by three goals to nil, and seem to be heading out. Lampard cannot fully take the blame for their defeat to Bayern because there is a massive gulf in class between Bayern Munich and Chelsea, and everyone knows the circumstances in which they were in before Lampard took over.
Lampard hasn’t got a lot of world-class players to depend on currently. Since the transfer ban is no more in effect, there are some key positions he needs to address this summer. One key area is the center-back position, which has been the most significant area of concern. They are vulnerable at the back and are very fortunate to be fourth on the Premier League table with this leaky backline. Lampard needs to sign a quality center-back, a leader who can control the back four very well. Another area that needs attention is the striking department. Chelsea needs to sign a world-class forward. Even though Tammy Abraham has done well so far, he is still young and not up there yet. The team also needs a combative midfielder because the injuries to N’golo Kante are proving to be more damaging, and it seems they can’t cope without him. Although Chelsea’s season has been full of ups and downs dropping points at home to some struggling teams and not being consistent, it has been a decent season for Lampard so far.