In our latest episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) was joined by Rob (Admin – @CFCRobL) & Tom (@tmdftbl) to discuss the exciting news in the last few weeks. *Recorded before Todd Boehly was deemed the clear favourite*. They discussed the 1-1 draw against Manchester United and Tuchel’s in game management, Todd Boehly’s bid and what we would like to see from our new owner, a deep dive into how good our squad actually is and looking ahead to Sunday’s game against Super Frank’s Everton.
A trophy that few have won, yet many wish to attain is the Champions League trophy. Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Robert Lewandowski have played in this tournament, however, several clubs have yet to hoist it for the first time.
For each club that has achieved this great triumph, there was a long and difficult path to win the Champions League. One such club is Chelsea FC. Prior to Roman Abramovic’s purchase of the club back in June 2003, Chelsea managed to win trophies such as the FA Cup, Football League Cup and UEFA Winners Cup, though they weren’t successful in winning Champions League.
A new journey began when Abramovic officially became the new owner of Chelsea Football Club. It gave the team a new identity, philosophy and path moving forward. More importantly, it gave fans hope, that not only that they could compete against the bigger teams in the Champions League, but that Chelsea could finally contend to win this prestigious tournament.
During the Abramovich era, Chelsea has managed to have plenty of success come their way. He’s instilled a winning mentality which has brought triumph to this club. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the Blue, where players such as Andriy Shevchenko, Adrian Mutu and Juan Sebastián Verón, failed to meet expectations. However, the likes of of Didier Drogba, Eden Hazard and Claude Makélélé have been able to leave their mark and help this club become successful.
In May 2008, nearly five years since Abramovic purchased the club, Chelsea were in a situation that no one had imagined in their history. The club, managed by Avraham Grant, had made it to finals of Champions League, which was to be played in Moscow at Luzhniki Stadium after they defeated Liverpool 4-3 on aggregates in the semi-finals. An English club was standing in their path as their bitter rivals, Manchester United, had advanced to the finals after their win against Barcelona.
Unfortunately, the match ended 1-1 after extra time and Chelsea lost 6-5 in a shoutout.
Four years later in May 2012, the club found themselves in a similar position. They were, once again, in the midst of trying to win their first Champions League trophy. This time their opponent was the German powerhouse club, Bayern Munich. Unlike their meeting against Manchester United, their match against Munich needed guts, determination and the will to never give up.
Chelsea was managed by Roberto Di Matteo and had players such as Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Ashley Cole. They were a part of the team when they lost in 2008 and were hoping to not follow the same path. With the score 0-0 and nearly tens minutes remaining, Chelsea conceded the first goal as Thomas Müller scored at the 83rd minute to give Munich the first lead of the match. Chelsea seemed destined to follow a similar path.
Five minutes later, with Chelsea fans nervous and frantic for that needed goal, they redeemed themselves. Drogba rose to the challenge, as he had done on multiple occasions throughout his career with the club. The striker scored one of the biggest goals in his career, as he found the back of the net at the 88th minute to tie the game at 1-1.
The match headed into extra time, which didn’t solve anything for either side and they needed penalty kicks to decide their fate. With their backs against the wall and Munich leading 3-1 in the shootout, the improbable happened for Chelsea. The Blues changed the script, as they won 4-3 in penalties and won their first Champions League trophy.
The wait was over and fans were out of their seats cheering in a frenzy as Chelsea also became the first and only club from London to win Champions League.
Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer, Lampard, will always look back on this moment.
In a UEFA Q&A, Lampard said, “I had lots of ups and downs. We tried and fought to get to [Champions League] finals, we lost one, and then the culmination of that, to win at Munich, and to win in the circumstances we did – as underdogs in their home stadium. The ride we’d had to get there was crazy; it was the stuff of movies.”
“When anyone asks me about my career, I cannot help but have that as the moment that jumps out at me; that’s what the Champions League is.
“If I’d have finished my career without that on my CV, I would have certainly felt incomplete, and I think this club would be incomplete.
“To win the Champions League as Chelsea, the first London club to do so, is something we’re all proud of.”
The long wait for a Champions League trophy ended and there were celebrations all over London. For certain players such as Lampard, Drogba, Cole and Petr Čech, the feelings were much greater as they developed a relationship with the club. More importantly, they had a connection with the fans after being with the club for several years.
Now we look back to eight years ago and relish the moment which became a reality for all Chelsea fans, the night when Chelsea hoisted the Champions League trophy. For the players, it will be a game that they will never forget as their comeback and the events which occurred throughout the match, will go down as one of the best in the history of football.￼
When Frank Lampard became the manager of Chelsea FC in the summer of 2019, many didn’t know what to expect. Coming off his first full season as manager for Derby County in the EFL Championship, his side finished short of being promoted back to the English Premier League. They lost 2-1 versus Aston Villa in the final of their playoffs and, despite that, they had a successful season that saw the team mature and grow.
Lampard, who spent 13 seasons with Chelsea as a player, had a positive first season as manager of the club. He led his side to a fourth-place finish in the Premier League, which secured their spot in the Champions League for the 2020/21 campaign. Additionally, Chelsea advanced to the FA Cup finals versus Arsenal, yet lost 3-1.
However, they weren’t as fortunate in the League Cup and the Champions League as they had bitter defeats versus Manchester United and Bayern Munich, with the latter proving to be too much to handle. It was a learning curve for Lampard as it was his first time managing a club in the Champions League. A tough task to do with limited managerial experience.
In Lampard’s first season, he exceeded expectations for his side after a transfer ban in the summer of 2018. He had the daunting task of not being able to sign players that he would have wanted to and, instead, had to depend on players who returned from the prior season and also relied on the Youth Academy. Although the ban was lifted and they were able to sign players in the winter transfer market, not much was done, which left Lampard in a difficult situation.
Most managers would prefer to arrive, transform the club as to how they would want it and have the flexibility to buying players in the transfer market. Lampard took on a challenging task and, in doing so, he has been able to take many Chelsea academy players to the next level in their young career.
Last season, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James broke into the first team and got their opportunity to show what they could provide to Chelsea. All three players didn’t disappoint as they finished the season rather impressively. Mount and Abraham had a combined 22 goals in the Premier League, while James proved to be a capable backup to Cesar Azpilicueta for the foreseeable future. He is a physical defender, with strong tackles and a good read for the game.
Heading into the 2020/21 season, expectations became much different for Lampard. This time around, the club had a full summer transfer window to purchase and were quite active, to say the least. They brought young, highly talented players, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell. They also brought veteran Thiago Silva to provide leadership and experience in the backend. They spent an excess of 200 million Euros in the summer transfer window and expectations were high.
Lampard’s job was in jeopardy at the mid-point of the season as his side had failed to produce. They exited early in the League Cup versus Tottenham Hotspur, advanced his side to the round of 16 in the Champions League and won against Hull City to advance into the fourth round of the FA Cup. Prior to his firing, Chelsea was sitting in ninth place in the Premier League. The results were encouraging yet not enough to save his job.
Lampard’s first season was more lenient given the circumstances the club faced however in his second season, club owner, Roman Abramovich, didn’t wait to evaluate Lampard’s performance as manager. The club decided to replace him with ex-PSG manager, Thomas Tuchel, which caught many by surprise when the deal was announced.
While it was sad to see Lampard leave Chelsea, he did his best in a tough situation the past two seasons. One noticeable area of concern was Lampard’s lack of managerial experience. Far too often this season, he had players in positions that were not their regulation position. Specifically, Werner, who was used as a left-wing but spent most of his time as a centre-forward with RB Leipzig. The German has struggled to find consistency, along with not scoring at the same rate he did in the Bundesliga.
All the blame shouldn’t be squared solely on Lampard. It was well known that he had limited managerial experience and he was going to need time to learn and adapt. Many successful managers have advanced through the youth rankings or have managed the lower divisions to help them gain experience. Lampard should have been given the proper time to adjust and figure it out with Chelsea. That’s never the case with Abramovich, who is known to have little patience.
Additionally, Chelsea acquired a plethora of new players in the summer transfer market and they had limited time to become familiar with each other. Training camp was shortened this season as Covid-19 altered the season and the scheduling. Injuries and illnesses also hampered Lampard’s squad, which made it difficult to have a full roster where players could play regularly.
While it didn’t go as planned this season, the Englishman was able to keep Chelsea on course through difficult times. Now he will embark on a new journey in his managerial career. Regardless of how it went, he will always be a Blue who gave it his all just as he did when he was a player with the club.
In June of 2019, just one month before Frank Lampard took over as Chelsea head coach, Eden Hazard completed his dream transfer to Real Madrid. Hazard was long an admirer of Madrid coach and former player Zinidine Zidane. Hazard also linked up with close friend and former Chelsea teammate Thibaut Courtois, who left Chelsea the year prior due to growing dissatisfaction with Chelsea’s managerial turnover that saw Courtois play under four different managers during his time in England. While Chelsea in truth could use the services of both players, Courtois has established himself as a mainstay between the sticks for Zidane’s side after an initially turbulent start to life at the Santiago Bernabeu. Hazard meanwhile has been as ineffective as he’s been healthy at Madrid, having thus far made a paltry 33 appearances over one and a half seasons whilst scoring a modest three goals, a far cry from his true quality.
An Eden Hazard return to Stamford Bridge could be mutually beneficial for many, with the Chelsea board scrambling for ways to finish inside the top 4, and Madrid likely desiring for their player to return to form. Hazard is now closer to the end of his career rather than the beginning having turned 30 at the beginning of the month. However, he offers a low-risk high reward option for the Blues, offering at the very least experience in the Premier League and individual drive and creativity from the left wing. For Chelsea, this hopefully would mean some production from the left flank, which has been totally devoid of scoring and creativity for almost the entire season. Christian Pulisic, like Hazard, has been oft-injured and mostly ineffective while Timo Werner on the other hand just really isn’t a winger. Callum Hudson-Odoi has been in and out of the lineup and on different flanks while filling in for one of Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech.
In addition to providing an attacking spark and creativity, Hazard was also a dressing room favorite and maintains great links within the team. During Olivier Giroud’s hot run of form during the triumphant 2018-19 Europa League campaign, Hazard hailed Giroud as “maybe” the best target man in the world. A Hazard return would bode well in this case, as Giroud has supplanted Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner as Frank Lampard’s preferred number 9 on multiple occasions.
While this article is largely speculative and thinking out loud of sorts, it does make perfect sense. Chelsea’s board are truly growing restless and desperate and currently with the winter transfer window looking like a crapshoot it might not hurt to try and take a flier on the lottery ticket that is Eden Hazard. Maybe you win, maybe you don’t. It’s hard to imagine Real Madrid considering a deal like this non-negotiable considering Hazard has just one goal this campaign. Almost any other player can offer a similar return while Hazard can play elsewhere, and collect a loan fee at the same time. And of course, in the worst-case scenario Hazard can always be recalled to the Santiago Bernabeu. Alas, it is a break from the managerial rumors. Stay calm and stay patient Chelsea fans.
In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho) and Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) were joined by special guest Adam Newson (@AdamNewson) who talks about getting into Journalism and working for Football.London, his reaction to Lampard’s sacking and Tuchel’s appointment, Billy Gilmour, the upcoming game against Spurs and Hudson-Odoi at RWB, the 23’s game against Arsenal on Friday including a return for Dujon Sterling and so much more!
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In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Orlando (Admin – @0rland1nho), Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) and Danny (Writer – @danny_new_) gave a reaction to the sacking of Frank Lampard, an episode we thought we wouldn’t have to have ever made. Talking about our instant reactions, the future of the academy, whether we will ever have a long term project at this club, how wrong was the timing, an in depth analysis of Thomas Tuchel with Marius Fischer (@Gegenpressing91) and so much more!
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Try as hard as you like but you can never get three players into two positions. Harder still is getting three into one. This is the situation Frank Lampard currently finds himself in, as he struggles to select his starting wingers. In Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi, Lampard has at his disposal arguably one of the most talented unit of natural wide men in Europe, but finding a way to keep them all happy has proven difficult. The main spanner in the works is Timo Werner’s inclusion on the left wing, meaning Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi are forced either to their weaker flank or to the bench. Finding a solution to his problems on the flanks could lead to Lampard getting his Chelsea side to click, but a number of issues must be solved before he can do this: deciding whether to deviate from the 4-3-3 he knows and trusts, getting the best out of the misfiring Werner and managing game time of all three wingers to avoid consistent injury issues.
Breaking down the game time of Chelsea’s four main flank options highlights a startling statistic: Callum Hudson-Odoi has started just 16% of the side’s league games this term. This seems like a very low proportion for such an incredibly talented player, not least when you consider his reported £120,000 per week contract and that the club rejected an offer of a loan with a £70 million option to buy from Bayern Munich for him last summer. So, the 20-year-old must find it strange that he can barely get on the pitch under Lampard despite the European Champions showing interest in acquiring his services. More startling still is the fact that Pulisic and Ziyech have started only 47% and 37% of league games so far, meaning Hudson-Odoi is not being kept out by two more experienced wide men. Mason Mount and even Ruben Loftus-Cheek have been preferred to Hudson-Odoi in a wide role at times this season, perhaps hinting at a lack of faith in him from Lampard. More confusing still were the manager’s comments made post-Fulham match about the winger, ‘Callum deserved to start today, to be fair. It’s not easy selections for me on that side of the pitch at the moment.’ Those comments infer a lack of meritocracy at the club. Incidentally when Hudson-Odoi did come on in the 75th minute of that game, he immediately sparked Chelsea into action and was integral in Mount’s winning goal just three minutes after his introduction.
As Chelsea have slumped into the doldrums of midtable following a chastening run of form in December and January – which has included just 2 wins from 8 in the league – very few players have stood out for the right reasons. One of the select few is Hudson-Odoi, who has made a huge impact when fighting lost causes against Arsenal and Manchester City, and in changing games such as the aforementioned Fulham match. The youngsters brilliant assist from his unfavoured right flank against Arsenal almost led Chelsea to an unlikely comeback, before a certain regista missed yet another penalty. His clever run in behind Zinchenko and composed sliding finish to score a consolation goal against City were testament to his footballing intelligence, pace and composure. Put simply, if Lampard wants to revitalise his side, putting his faith in Hudson-Odoi is a good place to start. Recent lacklustre performances from last season’s post-restart talisman, Pulisic, who has a solitary goal from 786 minutes of league action so far this campaign, should open up a slot on the left flank for the Englishmen to get a regular run of games. With fixtures against Luton, Burnley and Wolves coming up, now is as good a time as any for Lampard to throw him in.
Whilst Ziyech, Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi have struggled for game time due to a lack of fitness or trust from the manager, Timo Werner has had no such worries. Starting 82% of Chelsea’s league fixtures to date, with the majority (63%) of these starts on the left flank, the German has the third most league minutes for the Blues behind Mount and Kanté. It is obvious that Lampard is desperate for his summer signing to succeed but he is not suited to a role on the left wing in a 4-3-3. A modern-day Premier League winger must be creative, a good crosser and able to maintain and progress possession, traits which Werner does not yet possess. This is highlighted by his lacklustre 0.8 key passes and 0.2 successful crosses, as well as his huge 3.2 combined poor touches and times dispossessed per game, illustrating his lack of creativity and his inability to keep the ball let alone do anything dangerous with it. He still has a very respectable 7.16 expected goals to his name after 16 starts (his actual tally of 4 goals shows a lack of confidence in front of goal), as he manages to pop up in threatening positions. When compared to Hudson-Odoi’s 1.2 key passes, 0.5 successful crosses (a figure which could still improve) and 0.9 combined poor touches and dispossessions per game, it is clear that Chelsea could do with a natural winger on the left side.
A vital aspect of Lampard turning his side’s form around is getting the best out of £54 million signing Werner. The German has caused selection headaches for Lampard, with his ability to play in an alien 4-3-3 formation under question. Not physical enough to hold the ball up as a lone number 9 and nowhere near progressive enough to play as an out-and-out left winger as discussed, Werner does not seem comfortable anywhere in the current system. It is now well documented that the German enjoyed his most successful period at Red Bull Leipzig as part of a two man centre forward partnership, often paired with the tall and combative Dane, Yussuf Poulsen. Fortunately for the Blues, in Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham they have two centre forwards who fit the Poulsen mould and if anything should strike up a better partnership with Werner as they are much more rounded players than his former teammate. Playing Werner as a second striker (whoever his partner is) would also free up room on the left flank for one of Pulisic or Hudson-Odoi.
Werner was always going to take time to adapt to a new country and league, but one factor not spoken about enough is the new playing style he has been forced to adapt to. His frightening pace – topping out at an impressive 35 km/hour in the Bundesliga, quicker even than Pulisic! – made him perfect for a counter-attacking side shy on possession and desperate to transition from defence to attack as quickly as possible in Leipzig. At Chelsea he has still been able to break away past high defensive lines (see his late miss vs Fulham) but has also been expected to be a part of more patient build up play, something which will take time to adapt to. Playing as a second striker, he will have less responsibility when it comes to progressing the ball and tracking back, two of his least favourite parts of the game, and more opportunity to sit on the shoulder of the last defender and run in behind defences when possible.
When chasing results recently, Lampard has shown that he is not scared to switch up his tactics. An exciting 4-2-2-2 formation has been experimented with, most notably when chasing the game against a ten-man Fulham. This system would involve two holding midfielders covering an awful lot of ground to avoid the Blues losing the midfield battle, but if a pivot of Mount and Kanté could do the work of three men (given their work rates I wouldn’t put it past them) then it would open up an exciting world of opportunities for Chelsea’s forwards. Two of Pulisic, Ziyech and Hudson-Odoi would start on the wings with a front two of Olivier Giroud, Tammy Abraham or perhaps even Kai Havertz, partnering Timo Werner. This set-up could of course prove to be too open and may require two lights-out holding players (Declan Rice return anybody?) to properly function, but given the current system seems to be flawed it might be worth a try for Lampard, with winnable fixtures against the aforementioned Burnley and Wolves, as well as strugglers Sheffield United and Newcastle in the coming weeks.
As the Blues limp on, glancing nervously in their rear-view mirrors at Arsenal gaining on them and staring longingly up the table at the likes of Leicester City and Everton, it is obvious that a lot needs to change to kickstart their season. There are a lot of flaws in the team: a huge drop off in pressing, a worrying difficulty to transition between attack and defence (costing the side dearly against counter-attacking sides), as well as a lack of any tangible game plan other than to cross and hope in the final third. One quick fix is to play two natural wingers and select them based on merit, and to reposition Werner to a more natural role as a second striker. Now is a time for Lampard to be bold, with his future very much in doubt. There has been a suggestion of certain players downing tools under the current regime, and so the manager is fortunate that in Hudson-Odoi he has a potential game changer whom he can trust. The odds are stacked against Chelsea’s greatest ever player, but this writer is sure he will come back fighting. The next month is crucial, and with a few tweaks and a bit of luck we could see Chelsea emulate both Manchester clubs in soaring up the table. There is always hope.
Given the current form of the team, it’s no secret that Chelsea are still well invested in the transfer market. It’s worth saying that the team’s transfer business over the past handful of seasons has been far from illustrious, featuring the sales of Mohammed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne and the purchases of the likes of Danny Drinkwater and Kepa Arrizabalaga with the former most recently in headlines for being sent off in a U23s match. Club legends Petr Cech and Frank Lampard seemed to make it a point this time last year to end this trend and get the club some real talent and energy to put on the pitch, and while they have, it just hasn’t quite worked out. Hakim Ziyech has already suffered a handful of injuries, Timo Werner started off red hot and has now frozen into an icicle whilst being played out of position, and Kai Havertz hasn’t really been afforded the opportunity to do much of anything having contracted COVID-19 and also seemingly playing in a new position every time he’s put on the pitch. Needless to say, the club still sorely lacks the star power that departed along with Eden Hazard in his dream Summer 2019 move to Real Madrid. Of course while Hazard hasn’t made much of a difference in Spain during his time there thus far, it’s his impact at Stamford Bridge that is truly missed, having carried the team for his last 3 years with us.
With rumors of Roman Abramovich being dissatisfied with the club’s run of results and a managerial shake-up circling Frank Lampard like sharks in black water it should come as no surprise that Lampard might be frantically looking for reinforcements behind the scenes. Even with the likes of Werner and Havertz struggling for form, they have continued to be played routinely with Lampard reluctant to turn to more familiar faces from last season’s mild success such as Olivier Giroud, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi. The latter has been in blistering form lately and even Lampard himself admitted that his hand may be forced when it comes to the team sheet later on. Unfortunately, this might only be one piece of the puzzle that’s missing up top for Chelsea.
However, if the board are willing to continue backing Frank Lampard through this tough period we could see another forward don the Blue Shirt for Chelsea FC. Recently rumors have picked up about the club being interested in signing Borussia Dortmund starboy Erling Haaland who once stated he’d have loved to play with Frank Lampard. Haaland provides a similar profile to legendary strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Cantona – a player with excellent shooting technique, ability to read the game, smart movements, nifty and powerful dribbling as well as the ability to get up and head the football. With this transfer rumor though there are a few things that must be taken into consideration. Borussia Dortmund are not the same European powerhouse they were in 2013 when they took on Bayern Munich in the UCL final under Jurgen Klopp, and perhaps they could sell Haaland to fund replacements for aging veterans Axel Witsel and Mats Hummels. Additionally, if they sold Jadon Sancho the club could find themselves writhing in money in an instant. A problem that Chelsea will face however is the dealing with agent Mino Raiola, who represents Haaland. Raiola recently made disparaging remarks about Manchester United star and client Paul Pogba’s situation at the club, something that Marina Granovskaia and Roman Abramovich are sure not to tolerate, especially considering that the club have notoriously avoided dealing with the agent as it is.
The talent of Erling Haaland might become means for an exception, with the Norwegian recently becoming the fastest player to every score 25 goals in Europe’s top five leagues, scoring 25 in 25 games. The signing of Haaland could prove problematic, leaving the club with four strikers by trade as well as a huge hit to Abramovich’s wallet which would surely make Frank Lampard’s thin tightrope even thinner as sacking rumors continue to hang over the club legend. In addition, the board will continue to search for landing spots for the embattled Kepa Arrizabalaga as well as a path that would see West Ham star Declan Rice return to The Bridge with Mason Mount and other close Chelsea contacts. The next weeks will decide an important chapter moving towards the club’s future.
As January rolls into town, Chelsea are midway through their annual end-of-year tradition of handing out points to those who need it most and with that comes the inevitable rise of the “*Insert Manager Here* Out” brigade, singing festive hymns of reactionary takes and short term solutions. It is, of course, no surprise, that here at the start of January, as Chelsea sits on 1 win in their last 6, the fanbase appears very much divided on whether Frank Lampard is the right man for the job. This annual furore has been fuelled largely by a Chelsea model that has seen ruthless decision making deliver instant success. None more so than the removal of Andre Villas-Boas in March 2011, replaced by Roberto Di Matteo who then delivered the club its first Champions League trophy. History somewhat repeated itself the very next year when Di Matteo’s reign was cut short in November 2012, replaced by Rafa Benitez who guided the club to its first Europa League triumph. Therefore, it is no surprise that many fans are calling for change, however there is much more at stake this time around.
Chelsea, for the longest time, has been stuck in an internal conflict between the pragmatic style that delivered them success under managers like Mourinho and Conte and a desire to become a more expansive and expressive side, as seen with the short-lived appointments of Sarri and Scolari. This struggle between the two polarising approaches has seen the club frequently throw away long term planning for a chance at instant success. The trophies continued to pile up, however, the foundations they were built upon were seemingly growing weaker with every annual switch in philosophy. The prime example of this being the well-reported casualties of the 14/15 Premier League title win in Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Mo Salah (what are they up to these days, anyway??).
Those 3 players weren’t the only casualties of course. Promising youth players were farmed out before getting a sniff of the first team, squad players were signed for large fees and wages before immediately being deemed surplus to requirement and squads were ultimately left consisting of players who rarely matched the desired style of the incoming coach. On reflection, it shouldn’t be overly surprising that a squad built by Jose Mourinho struggled under the tutelage of Scolari, yet flourished under the more pragmatic Guus Hiddink. We all watched in bemusement as Frank De Boer and Marco Silva struggled to turn teams previously managed by Sam Allardyce into free-flowing attacking units, yet Chelsea has been equally as guilty. Managers, like players, frequently require the right environment and tools to flourish and whilst not free from blame (looking at you, AVB), the club has to take the lions share of responsibility.
So what’s different now? Well as with most things in football, money talks, and despite a transfer ban supported spending spree last summer, Chelsea quite simply cannot afford to think in the short term anymore as any major missteps could set the club back years, as we’ve seen in recent history with both Manchester United and Arsenal. The club’s hand has been forced to make a shift in philosophy that whilst desired for a long time, has never been committed to. The difficulty now is that such a transition is not being made from a position of power. Chelsea does not have the financial superiority they once had and success has dipped in recent years as Liverpool and Manchester City have continued to advance.
This shift in focus, arguably the biggest transitional phase since Roman first purchased the club in 2003, calls into question what the expectations of Lampard should be. Do we judge him on performances and results as we’ve done for those before him, or do we judge him on the long term progression of the club? The answer, as it often is, is somewhere in the middle. Whilst the immediate results have been inconsistent and at times frustrating, we cannot lose sight of the framework that is being built within the club to ensure long-term stability and success. Rome wasn’t built in a day, it took Klopp 4 years to make Liverpool competitive and despite City building for Guardiola’s arrival years in advance, instant success still wasn’t achieved there either. Additionally, you only need to look at the other side of Manchester to realise that money spent isn’t a guarantee of success.
With that said, both Klopp and Guardiola are two managers who between them boasted 27 trophies before moving to the Premier League and were widely regarded to be two of the best managers world football. Their experience, whilst increasing initial expectations, provided confidence to fans and the board alike that even in moments of inconsistency, they had the ability to deliver long term success. This is where Frank Lampard, despite 14 trophies as a player, is at a disadvantage. In only his third year in management, the minimal experience and relative lack of success makes it incredibly difficult to make a definitive call on whether Lampard can deliver the success that Chelsea, sooner rather than later, will demand.
Even the most die-hard fans of Lampard would not try and convince you that his appointment in July 2019 was primarily driven by his performance as Derby manager. Chelsea at the time was a club that required structure and direction following the fallout of Antonio Conte and the divisive season that followed under Sarri. Without a doubt, the high pressing, possession-oriented football he played at Derby would have helped his cause but the club required more than just a tactical shake-up, this was a team that had been accused by the last 3 managers of lacking motivation and an elite mentality. Lampard inherited a squad that perfectly summarised the mismanagement of seasons past, a combination of players signed for the conservative football of Mourinho and Conte, a limited, possession-based midfielder in Jorginho and a seemingly never-ending list of squad players from the past, returning from their 10th loan spell. However, unlike Sarri before him, Lampard had to continue the transition to a more expansive style of play without Eden Hazard, a man who had been involved in 49.1% of Chelsea’s goals the season before and who’s individual brilliance frequently masked the declining quality in the squad around him.
What Lampard did, however, is something that no manager under Abramovic has done before, utilising the resources already at the club within the academy to revolutionise the squad. Many managers in the past spoke positively of the youth but opportunities for the players were limited to little more than cameos in dead rubbers, such as Mourinho’s “Academy Day” which saw Ruben Loftus Cheek get an 8-minute outing in a game of zero consequence. Many will say Lampard’s hand was forced by the transfer ban however the immediate and consistent use of Mount (2nd highest at 3,741 minutes), Abraham (8th highest at 2,960 minutes), James (9th highest at 2,386), Tomori (15th highest at 1,868) and to a lesser extent Hudson Odoi (1,472) and Gilmour (508 minutes), over their more experienced counterparts, was a decision made out of choice rather than necessity.
The benefit of Lampard’s brave selections has also had a substantial impact on the club’s financial situation and transfer strategy. Given the emergence of the previously named youth players, there was no need to sign squad players and instead, the transfer funds went solely into players who improve the starting line up, with 6 of the 7 first team acquisitions this summer slotting in as regular starters. In addition to this, rather than a squad filled with squad players on inflated wages who may be hard to move on, the squad now largely consists of assets that are consistently growing in value, so much so that Hudson-Odoi was subject to a bid in excess of £70m last summer. This is a stark contrast to the summer of 2017 where the club signed Davide Zappacosta, Emerson and Danny Drinkwater for £74m (excluding wages) in return for a combined 74 Premier League starts at the time of writing. That very same summer, the club sold Nathan Ake, Nathaniel Chalobah and Ola Aina for a combined £34.9m.
Additionally, by Lampard’s own admission, there is still work to be done with the squad, particularly when it comes to outgoings. The impact of Covid-19 on the transfer market has meant that the club has struggled to offload players, preferring to hold onto them instead of taking a financial hit with a reduced selling fee. As such, the squad whilst deep in numbers, is not necessarily deep in quality with injuries to key personnel such as Hakim Ziyech often resulting in wholesale tactical changes due to a lack of alternatives with similar skill sets (see @CFCParee’s article on squad depth for more detail on this here).
Despite the incredible progress made off the field, results in the 2020-2021 have been inconsistent at best with the most recent, a 3-1 humbling defeat at home against Manchester City, calling into question whether Lampard has taken Chelsea as far as he can. As previously alluded to, in years gone by, such a run of results would have seen a change of manager made as fears grew of falling further behind. Lampard himself will know this all to well having seen the likes of Mourinho (twice) and Di Matteo removed from their duties despite their legendary status at the club. However, unlike the aforementioned replacements, the decision to stick or twist runs deeper than just changing the coach, the entire framework that has been put in place must be considered.
It is crucial that fans, and more importantly the board, do not lose sight of what Lampard’s appointment meant for the club. This was a man who lived and breathed Chelsea throughout his 648 games for the club, a man who understood what it meant to be Chelsea and immediately brought unity and excitement to a fanbase that had been divided by the previous seasons. Within a year, the long desired pathway between the academy and first-team squad was established, reducing the temptation to look at the market for squad player and his vision was so appealing that the club were able to sign a number of the most sought after players in the world, something they had struggled to do in seasons past.
There is perhaps merit to the argument that Lampard’s tenure is more akin to Ranieri’s than Mourinho’s, overseeing a successful rebuild of the squad and ultimately setting up someone with more experience to elevate them to the next level, however the decision over whether to replace him is far more complex than simply identifying if a subjectively ‘better’ coach is available. Whereas previously the club would do their best (not always successfully) to match the style of the incoming coach, now the coach must match the style of the club. It quite simply is no longer enough for a manager to join the club with a track record of success, they must continue the progression to the expansive side that Chelsea are becoming, they must share the invested interest in continuing the pathway from the academy and resist the urge to move in the transfer market for anything other than elite players. Failure to make the right call will not only see Chelsea lose a manager who has the best interests in the long term stability of the club, but also the progress that he, and everyone else at the club, have worked so hard to achieve over the last 18 months.
Regardless of the decision that the board make, what is clear is that Lampard, as he did as a player, will leave the club in a much better position than when he joined it.
Chelsea are currently experiencing their worst run of form under Frank Lampard. This has pushed the club legend right to the top in the Premier League sack race, with The Athletic reporting that the club legend is on thin ice.
Now, I’d personally never call for Frank’s head. He’s earned his bias amongst the Chelsea faithful and deserves time to turn things around. I absolutely do not want him sacked, and I hope that Mr Abramovich feels the same way.
Regardless of my opinion, though, it’s quite clear that there are discussions being held at Chelsea about the head coach position. The names being flung around at the moment include Thomas Tuchel, Brendan Rodgers and Julian Nagelsmann. For me though, Chelsea should look to current Southampton head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl. The Austrian has been in charge on the South Coast since 2018 and currently has the Saints sitting level on points with Chelsea, in 9th position.
He has been noted for the attractive, pressing style of play that his teams utilise. He has claimed he wants all of his players to “be hungry” in order to maintain a passionate and high octane philosophy on the pitch. Despite tinkering with systems at times, Hasenhüttl’s go-to system is a 4-2-2-2 (4-4-2 on paper) which allows his team to create a “box” in midfield, with the wide players regularly coming inside to operate centrally and the pivot in midfield sitting quite deep. This, combined with two strikers, gives the side an overload of attacking options as well as an heir of unpredictability as they move around with the freedom of fluidity. This system could work perfectly with Chelsea’s personnel, two forwards would allow Timo Werner to slot in centrally but still have the support of a fellow number-9 in Tammy Abraham or Olivier Giroud. Intestingly though, having Kai Havertz operate high up the field – almost next to his fellow German, could be the most effective option. This would allow for Hakim Ziyech and one of Callum Hudson-Odoi or Christian Pulisic to take the wide positions and utilise their playmaking and creative ability by coming inside as they so regularly do.
The pivot in midfield would be an area to consider too, it’s likely that N’Golo Kanté would slot in comfortably and would be in his ideal position in a two-man midfield which he found so much success within under both Claudio Ranieri and Antonio Conte. With the wide players operating very centrally, just ahead of the pivot, this can leave space empty out-wide. Chelsea’s strong wing-back partners of Reece James and Ben Chilwell push-up very high though, which suits the system down to a tee.
I’m no tactical expert, so I won’t attempt to delve deep into Ralph Hasenhüttl’s system but I’ve offered my thoughts based on what I’ve seen of his Southampton side in the Premier League. It seems pretty clear that his style of play, combined with the personnel already at Chelsea, could match up perfectly. It’s worth considering too that he’s previously worked with the likes of Timo Werner during his successful stint with RB Leipzig.
The only complication here is that the Austrian isn’t actually available. He’s obviously employed at Southampton so not only would Chelsea need to tempt him away from his project at The Saints but they’d also be required to pay a fairly hefty compensation fee to the St Mary’s club. We’ve seen in the past though with both Mauricio Pochettino and Marco Silva that this doesn’t tend to be a block when a ‘bigger’ club comes in to pinch Southampton’s gaffer.
In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho) and data analyst Abhishek (@MishraAbhiA) discuss how Chelsea can improve under Frank Lampard. They talk about the reasons behind Timo Werner’s recent failure infront of goal, Kai Havertz’s early struggles, the need for Declan Rice, Ziyech’s importance to the team and SO much more!
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After a successful transfer window in the summer, it seems Chelsea are yet to slow down with some big plans for their transfer targets going into the new year. The first link is already well known with some additional information, while the second being a high profile player likely to surprise Blues fans but also excite them. Therefore we’ll discuss the logistics of each deal, pros and cons of each deal, and end with a conclusion of final thoughts on both deals together.
The story of both targets for Chelsea was originally broken by none other than Sky Sports journalist Angelo Mangiante. He discusses in the tweet below Chelsea’s ambition to step up their pursuit for the West Ham captain Declan Rice as well as pursue Dortmund star Erling Braut Haaland.
Beginning with Declan Rice, this target is nothing new to Chelsea fans. It’s no secret that Chelsea were heavily linked with the English international all throughout the summer and were hoping to add him along the arsenal of players signed in the previous window. Reports from multiple sources have stated Rice is a top priority if not the highest priority of all targets and rumors have come out that the player is also interested in rejoining his boyhood club.
Although it may seem that both Chelsea and the player want the same thing, the difficulty comes down to striking a deal with West Ham for their highly valued captain. With Declan being an integral part of the team and locker room, the Hammers have placed a high price tag on the player with quotes of even £80m being discussed in reports during the summer window.
Additionally, Rice is known to be a highly professional player who would likely not want to leave on any bad terms with the club, meaning he is unlikely to push for a move himself in January, making the probability of a deal this window unlikely.
However, this does not mean Chelsea won’t be looking to sign Rice in future windows as previously stated, so we’ll discuss pros and cons of what a deal for the 21-year-old defensive midfielder might look like for Chelsea and their squad.
Quite a few positives can be discussed in this signing, firstly Rice is an extremely talented player and already considered West Ham’s best player at 21 as well as being their captain. He is homegrown, and has multiple seasons of experience in the Premier League with very consistent game time.
He fills the need for a true no.6 at the club since the departure of Nemanja Matić, which could allow N’Golo Kanté to play in a variety of roles in the midfield as we saw under Maurizio Sarri, or in a double pivot alongside Rice. In addition Chelsea being Rice’s boyhood club means he is familiar with many of the players already at the club and has a close friend namely in Mason Mount. This, along with already being located in London, should make the transition and settling between the clubs much more seamless in respect to other transfers.
Finally, as aforementioned Rice has proven a strong mentality and leadership quality at such a young age at West Ham being their captain for multiple seasons, and his versatile skill set and quality can allow him to fill a variety of roles, even as depth as a central defender if need be.
However, there remains a few lingering issues which may accompany the deal that must be addressed. Firstly the price tag is undeniably going to be an issue in negotiating a deal for the player. As we saw in the summer even with the COVID-19 crisis and turmoil at the club, West Ham were still able to hold out for their valuation on the player, meaning he likely will not come cheap.
In addition to the money spent aspect, this could prove to be problematic as we’ve seen expensive transfers before add pressure to young players before whether it be through the media, or an effect on their own confidence and mentality. This means the board would likely have to exhibit a high degree of certainty in their belief of the player’s capabilities and positive influence on the squad.
Finally, Rice would be joining what is an already flooded midfield, and although he fits a niche role it seems no player other than N’Golo Kanté can fit, many players from Chelsea’s midfield will likely have to be shipped out to make up some funds and space for the move.
This theme will be further discussed in regard to the second main target Chelsea have been linked with, Erling Braut Haaland.
Erling Braut Haaland
Haaland is a new link which is indicative of the ambitions of the board and the profile of player they’re looking for to progress this Chelsea squad to be a force in all competitions. However, one of the most sought after and talented young strikers in Europe will not be easy to sign and will have many obstacles to overcome in securing a deal.
Firstly, Haaland has stated in interviews before, that in this current moment of time he is not looking to leave Dortmund. Although these kinds of statements often are made even before transfers actually go through, it is likely to complicate negotiations if there isn’t a strong desire for the player to leave.
In addition to this, reports from multiple sources such as the Evening Standard, and NBC Sports have reported that although Haaland has a release clause reported to be in the region of €75m, the clause does not kick in until 2022, meaning any deal which could be negotiated before 2022 will have to cost more than this amount.
Finally, the biggest threat that seems to be in Chelsea’s way of securing the signature of Haaland is likely to be the attraction from other suitors namely Real Madrid who have been most heavily linked with the Norwegian striker.
The tweet below from the Madrid Zone on twitter discusses the idea of a potential deal in place for the 20-year-old forward to join the Galaticos in the summer of 2020, naming the works of Mino Raiola and influence of Martin Ødegaard.
With these hurdles in the way of signing the Dortmund star, it will be a tall task for Chelsea to accomplish. Nonetheless we’ll analyze what pros and cons may come of a deal for Haaland, and how they might effect the the club.
With a player such as Haaland and what he has shown thus far, it’s clear the first positive of signing such a striker would be his talent in scoring goals. He broke out onto the scene last year in spectacular fashion in the Champions League scoring 8 goals in 6 games for Salzburg, and then another 2 in 2 for Dortmund that same year. In addition, he scored 13 in 15 games for Dortmund last season in the league with 2 assists as well. This season he has improved on his form with 18 goal contributions (16 goals and 2 assists) in 12 games in both the league and UCL. This is likely down to his superb striking technique of the ball, as well as his intelligent movement for a striker his age, allowing him get on the end of consistent scoring opportunities and convert them.
Even so, many times top players from top leagues arrive to the Premier League and struggle to adapt to the physical nature of the league especially as a focal point striker. However, in Haaland’s case at 6’4 and about 200 pounds, he is likely to not only fare well in this regard but to excel. This is due to not only his size, but his mobility at his size. This combination of size, strength, and mobility is likely to wreak havoc in any league making Haaland a very desirable target.
Finally, with the likely departure of Oliver Giroud in the future, as well as the use of Werner out wide so far under Lampard, it seem the only two main options for a focal striker at Chelsea would be Haaland and Abraham in this scenario.
When a talent such as Haaland becomes available its hard to not pursue such a player not only to benefit a club like Chelsea, but also to prohibit other competitors from signing the player. However, this fill in vacancy also poses a possible negative consequence of such a transfer.
The first idea to discuss in a potential disruption of the Haaland deal, is what becomes of Tammy Abraham. The English striker is clearly favored under Frank Lampard, however if a big money move were to happen for the Norwegian, it’s uncertain if Abraham would retain a first choice position which may unsettle him at the club.
Being 23 years of age, if Haaland were to come in and make the starting role his own, it’s possible Tammy looks for a move elsewhere especially if he feels he is able to play for another Premier League side consistently. With the record Chelsea have of letting blossoming academy talent slip away, this may be a serious consideration for the club.
Building on this same theme, Abraham may represent that such a signing for a striker may not even be necessary. In fact, it may show that the money may be wasted signing a striker of Haaland’s calibre and could be better spent reinforcing other positions of need for the squad. Furthermore, with the signings of Ziyech, Werner, and Havertz, it’s clear Chelsea have already spent a considerable amount bolstering a formidable attack.
With the more urgent needs of a defensive mid, a long-term replacement for Thiago Silva, and added depth at winger and left-back, its possible that the funds used to sign Haaland could be less efficient in improving the overall squad.
Both Rice and Haaland are obviously extremely talented, young, and sought after players whose signings would likely improve the quality of players in the squad. With Rice, the proven ability in the Premier League as well as seamless transition, homegrown status, and desire for the player to join show to be a match made in heaven. However, there is no denying he will likely not come cheap, and a move for him will be most realistic in the summer rather than this window.
With Haaland, it’s difficult to pass on the opportunity of signing a generational talent, and some may even say that’s what inspired our signing of Kai Havertz rather than a necessity for the player. His goal scoring ability and physical talent is one that will surely continue to impress and a talent every team desires. However, outside of just desire, it seems this signing could be the most difficult Chelsea have ever pulled off both as a result of valuation, and other suitors’ desire of the player. Although it looks unlikely or possibly even unnecessary, Chelsea have been in this position before with Werner, Havertz, and Eden Hazard in which they proved to be successful in their pursuit of a player with many suitors. As a result, it would be unwise to count out the West London club in their pursuit of Haaland, and one to look out for in the future.
Frank Lampard enters his second season as manager of Chelsea and comes off an impressive year where he finished in a top four spot in the English Premier League. In doing so, Chelsea qualified for the Champions League for a second straight season and did this with the loss of their star player, Eden Hazard. The Belgian was sold to Real Madrid as he wanted to play under Zinedine Zidane. Additionally, a transfer ban last summer restricted Chelsea from purchasing players and strengthening their squad.
The youth academy finally became a focal point as young touted players such as Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham finally had their chance to showcase their skills. Mount and Abraham each flourished in their first season in the EPL as they scored seven and fifteen goals, respectively. They have continued that trend into their second season and have excelled.
With the transfer ban no longer an issue this season, the summer transfer market was boisterous for Chelsea. The Blues caught many by surprise with their marquee signings as they were able to sign elite players such as Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. To add to the mix, Abraham has started to emerge as an elite striker so Lampard has plenty of options at centre-forward.
So where does this leave Olivier Giroud? The Frenchman signed a one-year deal last season to extend his stay with the Blues but this decision has backfired. He has started in five of their twenty-one matches in all competitions this season and regularly appeared as a substitute. In recent times, he has grown frustrated and has fallen down the pecking order. The forward needs to play more if he is to secure his spot in the Euros for France come June.
Giroud has mentioned that he’s grown frustrated and that he will decide on his future come January 2021. Lampard wants the forward to stay, however, Chelsea will not get in the way if he decides to leave. Since arriving from Arsenal, Giroud has helped Chelsea win a FA Cup and the Europa League.
Near the midway point of the season, Mitchy Batshuayi was the backup to Abraham and Giroud was third in line.
Batshuayi’s performances declined back in February and this prompted Lampard to move Giroud behind Abraham. He too was struggling as scoring and his inability to finish started to become an issue. While this compounded midway through the season, this gave Giroud an opportunity to make his mark as the number one choice for his manager.
Although Abraham recovered from injuries before Project Restart, he faltered down the latter part of the season as he scored twice in their final 13 appearances (between the EPL and FA Cup).
Rumoured to be joining clubs such as Inter Milan, Lazio and Tottenham Hotspurs last January, this never materialized as the Frenchman stayed with Chelsea for the remainder of the season. Had he left, Lampard’s options would have been Abraham and Batshuayi and, with the latter no longer part of his plans, he couldn’t afford to lose Giroud without a sufficient replacement. In April, Giroud renewed his contract and decided to stay an additional season with the Blues.
While Giroud wasn’t a starter last season, he still showed determination when Lampard called upon him to enter as a substitute. The Frenchman proved himself and was inserted in the staring lineup when the season re-started. He provided stability up front and scored eight goals in thirteen EPL matches and one goal in the FA Cup Semi-Finals.
Fast forward to this season and Giroud found himself in a situation he didn’t want to be in. He was in a lesser role with Chelsea now that Havertz and Werner joined the club. Along with the emergence of Abraham, the Frenchman had every reason to leave the club. In recent times, that hasn’t been the case as Werner, Havertz and Abraham are struggling as they’ve been in poor form.
He wants to secure his spot in the upcoming Euros with France and also play regularly. That may be a possibility as the Frenchman is having another good season with the Blues. He has scored eight goals in fourteen games across all competitions and is on pace to surpass his numbers from last season.
Earlier this season, Giroud played a meaningful part in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Stade Rennais F.C. in the Champions League as he scored the winner in the dying moments. A great moment for the Frenchman and the Blues which shows the kind of player they have, yet he will need a more significant role with the club if he is to stay.
“I think everybody feels from the outside what a great professional [Giroud] is and how highly regarded he is by his teammates and by myself,” said Lampard.
“And for him to get a goal, you’ve seen the reaction of his teammates, he’s so professional in how he trains and looks after himself that age isn’t even a factor.
“Even though he doesn’t play all the time,” he continued.
“I hope and I think he knows that I’m happy with him and how much I rely on him.”
His time with the Blues will always be remembered for scoring pivotal goals and helping them win two important trophies. Chelsea have gone in a new direction with young talented players that will become the future of this club. Yet, if Werner’s struggles persist and Lampard continues to be reluctant to use Havertz as a number nine, this will leave him with just Abraham.
Lampard wants Giroud to stay so what looked like a bad situation may have changed its course for the Frenchman to reconsider leaving. However, if he is to leave, let’s take a moment to be thankful and grateful for his time with Chelsea. He arrived to Chelsea leaving with trophies, scoring pivotal goals and becoming a Blue’s player to remember and love.
It has a been tumultuous summer transfer market for Chelsea who have been one of the most active teams to date. One player who had been mentioned regularly prior to joining the Blues was Timo Werner. The German came off a career year who had been consistently mentioned to join Liverpool. Chelsea, who hardly were mentioned caught many people by surprise.
When a player such as Werner is available to be signed, a club who has the necessary funds should do what is possible to obtain their signature and commitment. If they wait too long to make a decision, other teams will grasp at the opportunity to acquire some of the best talent available in the transfer market.
Over the past couple weeks prior to joining Chelsea, it was widely rumoured that Liverpool was in pole position to sign Werner. The Reds were reluctant to pay his full release clause of nearly €53 million euros and had yet to offer a contract to the forward. Inter Milan and Juventus were also interested, but Chelsea seem to be willing to pay the full release clause and offer a five-year deal worth 10 million per year in wages.
The late move by Chelsea caught many people by surprise and has shown that they are committed to signing one of the best up-and-coming players. Before signing Werner, in the past 12 months, Chelsea had only signed Mateo Kovaĉić and Hakim Ziyech. The transfer ban may have been a blessing in disguise as the club acquired a player who will help in many different ways. Chelsea’s willingness to put pen to paper for the forward has Werner convinced in the project they have setup and Lampard playing a major role in convincing the German in what they plan to do moving forward.
While Liverpool continued to stall in signing Werner, Chelsea was lurking in the dark and wasted no time, pouncing on the opportunity. With the forward now part of the club, Chelsea fans have much to be excited about. What can they expect from the Leipzig forward?
Frank Lampard will be getting a player who should nicely fit his style of play. The Chelsea manager prefers to play direct attacking football, but the Blues have really struggled to finish their chances this season. Chelsea averaged 16.6 shots per game while only scoring 1.7 goals per game. Tammy Abraham has contributed 15 goals, but is the only player on the squad to find the back of the goal more than ten times in the English Premier League. Willian who no longer is with the squad was second with six goals. The inability to find consistent scoring from other players has been a major issue for Lampard.
Werner has flourished under manager Julian Nagelsmann, who’s been able to develop the forward’s game this season. Currently playing in a 4-4-2 formation, Werner showed to be very consistent, which is a rare quality to find in young players. The forward has scored many goals this season with his great movement and ability to strike the ball with great power and accuracy. The striker scored 28 goals in the Bundesliga, who was second in the league behind Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski.
In the previous two Bundesliga campaigns, where he played as a wide forward, he averaged 3.6 shots per 90 minutes. In recent seasons he’s managed to get to the net and create opportunities for him and his teammates. This year, playing as a false nine, he’s averaged 3.6 shots per game and has improved his goal-scoring rate, averaging 0.71 goals per 90 minutes.
Last season, Bayern Munich decided not to make a move for the forward, which has worked out well for the young forward. Playing another season under Nagelsmann has helped Werner become a more complete player.
“Nagelsmann has said that I won’t be playing as an out-and-out striker for him as much, but more of a false 9,” Werner said.
“It has encouraged me to improve and develop myself, even when we come up against oppositions that sit deep. He’s helped me to make better use of space.”
Werner’s flexibility will provide Lampard positional versatility. He will allow the Chelsea manager the option to play different formations, including the 4-3-3. While Lampard has used various formations this season, the 4-3-3 is his preferred option. Werner will be a viable replacement for Pedro and Willian who are no longer with the club, and the forward has shown he can play on either wing, as a striker and as a false nine.
Lampard’s current options include Abraham as the striker, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson Odoi on either wing and Ziyech who could play as a right winger, a ten, or an eight. New addition, Kai Havertz could be used on the right wing or as an attacking midfielder, yet both players are capable of playing together up front. They have the ability to score and the experience of playing together for the German International squad.
Lampard has an abundance of players that offer positional versatility, which gives the manager many options to choose from. With so many competitions to be played, it never hurts to have more bodies in the line up as injuries do occur throughout the season.
The scoring should vastly improve the most for Chelsea. Werner’s great movement will create more space for Abraham to work with and should result in more scoring opportunities. Abraham’s physical strength up front and ability to play behind the defense should allow him room to separate him from the defense and have more chances to score.
While Werner is not the most physical player, he has shown he can score at a prolific rate. He has scored 78 goals in 127 Bundesliga appearances with Leipzig over the past four campaigns. Goal scoring will no longer be an area of concern for Lampard as with a player of this caliber at his disposal. A new chapter is about to begin in Werner’s life and one which he will most certainly embrace.
Chelsea finalized their second biggest signing in club history as they reached an agreement with Bayern Leverkusen. Kai Havertz was purchased for 70 million Euros from the German club and will join the Blues. He will have the chance to play alongside Timo Werner who plays with him for International side, Germany.
To be acknowledged and recognized in football takes hard work and dedication with the hopes of making dreams a reality. Throughout the past seasons, Havertz has shown the desire and devotion to work hard, improve his game and consistently perform at the highest level. He now joins a club who is showing the ambition to win multiple trophies as they have been one of the most active teams in the transfer market.
Havertz joins a relatively young squad who has players such as Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham. He becomes the next youngest player to be inserted into this squad and will immensely help manager, Frank Lampard, who has shown the commitment and willingness to play young players. Yet, what will Havertz offer his new club and what makes him so unique?
Havertz started playing at the age of four years old with Alemannia Mariadorf. In 2009, he then signed with Alemannia Aachen and spent one season in the club’s academy. Only spending one season with the second division club, he then signed with Bayer Leverkusen when he was 11 years old.
In the hopes of one day making the first team and playing in the Bundesliga, the midfielder spent seven years in the club’s academy. Additionally, Havertz played for the under 16 and 17 German National side. As the years passed by, the midfielder continued to develop his skills and mindset which developed him into an elite midfielder.
The commitment, hard work and ability to develop his game finally paid off for the German as on October 15, 2016, he found himself coming on to the pitch as a substitute for Charles Aranguiz. The wait was over for the midfielder who at the time was 17 years old and saw his dream become a reality. Since taking that step on to the pitch, the midfielder hasn’t looked back as he’s developed himself into one of the most talked about players in football.
While Werner, James Rodriquez and Donny van de Beek have incited talks that see them with new clubs this upcoming year, another player who was headlined and generated a lot of attention has been young sensational midfielder, Havertz. In his four seasons with the Leverkusen, the midfielder has made quite the name for himself with his exciting style of play and ability to read the game.
Havertz holds many qualities which have been crucial to his game and allowed him to become a complete midfielder. At a young age, he’s developed skills in his game which many other players have yet to establish.
Starting off as a number ten with Leverkusen, in the role of an attacking midfielder, he has developed into a more versatile player who has shown to succeed in any position in the forward. He can play right midfield, right forward and the false nine. He’s able to assert himself as forward playing deeper but safely.
When Havertz is in the box and near the goal, he’s a very creative player who has good movement. His dribbling skills allow him to get around defenders and he has shown the ability to be decisive and clinical. In addition to scoring timely winning goals, he’s assisted in the build up of many plays which have led to goals for his teammates.
Havertz is a technical player and has the ability to play off either of his feet when in possession of the ball as he’s cemented himself as a two-footed midfielder. He is a threat to the opposition defence with his quick one-touch passes within tight areas. He has good passing and decision making and carries the ball well when playing it to his teammates.
The most important trait which Havertz has developed in his game is the ability to play at a high consistent level and carry the responsibility that has been given to him and take the lead.
The season prior was a career year for Havertz as he scored 17 goals in 34 Bundesliga matches. This season he has followed with another strong campaign as he’s tallied 12 goals in 24 appearances. Additionally, no player has scored more than the 36 goals that Havertz has amassed in the Bundesliga before the age of 21. The midfielder has shown no signs of slowing down as he continues to become one of the best upcoming midfielders in today’s modern game of football.
“You look at his profile, his experience already and the regularity with which he performs at a high level, you can have great confidence that he is the real deal, “recruitment expert David Webb told The Independent.
“He has been consistent and established himself as one of the best young players in the world at Leverkusen, which is also a good sign because he’s had to shoulder a lot of responsibility there and take the lead.
“He’s obviously got a maturity about him, which comes across not just in his performances but in his character.”
Lampard now gets a player who he has coveted for quite a while and should help the Englishman in this upcoming season. From being a versatile player to a complete scorer, he could be slotted into the lineup in various way which will give Lampard plenty of options to consider. He prefers to use a 4-3-3, so, expect Werner and Havertz to play together as they have been able to develop chemistry with German squad. Both have shown the ability to score at a rapid pace and will make it difficult for the other team’s defense.
The midfielder has taken his game to the next level this year and caught the interest of several clubs in different leagues. A player who is as rare as Havertz had top teams such as Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Liverpool in Leverkusen’s path for his services. It was an unlikely club that continues to catch teams by surprise as Chelsea once again dipped into the transfer market and signed him.
Havertz now has the chance to play for one of the biggest clubs in the English Premier League as his hard work and determination has paid off. At the age of 21, he is already being compared to Mesut Özil and Michael Ballack. He is an exciting young prospect who aims to make his mark with Chelsea.
Jerry Mancini spoke to Mark Worrall, author and publisher for Chelsea FC related books. He has written books such as Chelsea Here Chelsea There, ‘Blue Murder: ‘Chelsea Till I Die’ and Chelsea Football Fanzine.
How would you rate Frank Lampard’s first season with Chelsea? Additionally, why is Lampard struggling to coach defense?
“A very solid 7/10 for Super Frank. [A] victory in the FA Cup Final would have pushed it to 9/10. Achieving [a] top four [position in the English Premier League] in spite of having lost Eden Hazard and not being able to sign new players was commendable.
“Defence issues were there from day one. Frank permed every option available to him as far as centre-back pairings and 3 at the back was concerned without ever achieving consistency. Clearly there is the need for a quality centre-back to be added to the squad and a left-back. Goalkeeper has also been an issue which has led to a crisis of confidence on several occasions. I’d like to believe it’s a personnel issue rather than a coaching issue…. We will find out next season, if the squad is improved in this area.”
Willian left Chelsea after seven seasons to join Arsenal. Did you feel this was the right move by Chelsea and the player? Also, how do you view his time with the Blues?
“I love the bones of Willian. He hates Tottenham of course! Joking aside, every Chelsea manager he played for rated him and there were always offers coming in for him. I think he found it hard to be constantly in Eden Hazard’s shadow, but his contribution and work rate were top notch.
“The move to Arsenal, is proof that at 32 he’s not a spent force. Personally, I don’t like to see Blues players move to rival Premier League clubs, especially London clubs. Was it the right move for Chelsea? I think so. I’m not sure he would have got much in the way of game time next season the way the team looks to be shaping up with new players.”
Chelsea shocked many with the signing of Timo Werner. How do you see the German fitting into Lampard’s plans this upcoming season?
“If [he is] playing through the middle, [Timo] Werner will hopefully be the man to consistently convert the chances that Chelsea create down the flanks. There is flexibility though and he can play left-wing with Tammy [Abraham] as centre forward. Either way, he’s going to be one of the first names on Super Frank’s team-sheet and if he stays injury-free then a 50+ appearances season beckons.”
Which area should Chelsea focus on the most in this transfer market window?
“Goalkeeper needs to be addressed and one centre-back – I actually think left-back is less of an issue for now while Kai Havertz is a luxury signing. It looks like [Roman] Abramovich is motivated to spend, spend, spend and so it’s a question of finding the right players and getting the deals over the line.”
Chelsea have been very active in the transfer market. They have acquired Werner, Hakim Ziyech, and look close to signing Ben Chillwell and Kai Havertz. Which players do you believe will not benefit from all these players joining Chelsea?
“There’s quite a list, but avoiding the obvious ones who will be sold or loaned I do wonder how much game-time the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy and perhaps also [Christian] Pulisic and [Mason] Mount will get over the course of the season.”
Do you think César Azpilicueta is the best captain in Chelsea’s history?
“Short answer, no. César Azpilicueta is a terrific ambassador for the Club and a loyal, dependable and versatile defender… but he is nowhere near John Terry in terms of providing do-or-die leadership on the pitch.”
What has been the downfall to Kepa’s career and do you see the Spaniard in goal next season for Chelsea?
“Kepa’s downfall started with his player-manager escapade at Wembley in the 2019 League Cup Final v Man City. He then allowed personal issues to cloud his game (girlfriend trouble). Having a shaky defence in front of him hasn’t given him confidence and that’s a two-way street. Being dropped for the latter stages of the 2019/20 campaign spoke volumes about how much the manager trusts him – he doesn’t
“Without the benefit of a decent pre-season to see if he can be trusted with a better defence in front of him (assuming new signings) I don’t see how Lampard can re-evaluate him and, on that basis, I can’t see him getting a game. That said, if Chelsea don’t sign another goalkeeper and something happens to Willy Caballero there may be no option other than to play him.”
Lastly, how do you see Chelsea finishing this season and do you think they will progress this upcoming year?
“Progress will largely depend on fixing the defensive problems that plagued Chelsea in 2019/20. Do that, and with exciting new attacking talent already on board and the promise of more to come then the Blues could give Liverpool and Man City a run for their money in the Premier League.
“Realistically, going one better and winning the FA Cup this time around looks like the best option of silverware with the League Cup as a back-up… or why not win both? The new season is all about finding the right formula team wise, do that and we should be seriously challenging for top honours including the Champions League within the next couple of years.”
Last summer, we saw Maurizio Sarri and Chelsea FC mutually agree to part ways and terminate Sarri’s contract. The Italian decided to sign with Juventus. In his one season with the club he was quite successful winning the Europa League and finishing fourth in the league. What were your thoughts on Sarri’s one season with Chelsea?
“It was an up and down season for Maurizio Sarri. He was somebody that was appointed to actually change Chelsea and have more of a long-term vision, taking a more defensive style club for all the years they had Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte and to try and make it his own.
“When they started facing some adversity, I think you saw one of the big flaws in Maurizio Sarri that he doesn’t have a Plan B – but he doesn’t choose to have a Plan B, [he] purposely chooses to have a really good Plan A. I think he had a little bit of a rude awakening and you can’t have no adaptability in the Premier League.
“I think he certainly was hit with some cold hard truths there in the middle of the season. Like he should have known, when you don’t do well at Cheslea [FC], you’re going to come under a lot of fire from within the club [and] from the media, but it’s a place that’s very unforgiving towards their managers. So, he realized that quickly, but one huge personality trait that he has and Antonio Conte has is they’re stubborn. They believe in their vision, that’s a good thing and a bad thing.
“Sarri kept the ship upright, got third place [in Premier League] and got the Europa League trophy. [It was] his first ever trophy and he really [left] on terms that most Chelsea managers don’t get to leave on, on good terms. It really doesn’t happen. You either get sacked or you walk away, but under a really toxic term or manner. It was more the perfect storm of why he left.”
Chelsea decided to replace Sarri with club legend Frank Lampard. The 41-year agreed to a three-year deal which will see him with the club until June 2022. Upon arriving, the club had been sanctioned a transfer ban and were unable to purchase players in the summer transfer window. What were your thoughts of Lampard being appointed the new manager of Chelsea? Did you think he was the right person to manage this squad given the circumstances the club was in?
“Chelsea have had a phenomenal academy for a long time. If there’s anything they’ve struggled with, it’s to have stability and have more of a clear direction [and] foundation. They really have won trophies based on being a big club and always having players that have championship pedigree.
“They [have] been such an interesting team with a lot of turmoil and toxicity from year to year and also a team that was always producing this great young talent but choosing to never use them for anything but a business model and just to profit off of those – send them on loan and their careers will probably get stagnated, but we’ll still be able to sell them. We’ll just keep doing this with all the talent we produce and we’re going to make a lot of money off of it.
“It’s about time we see if they could make it at our club [Chelsea] and if we have a transfer ban and we have a manager that also might be leaving us (Maurizio Sarri), well I think it’s time to hire a manager who knows the club, knows how important using these players can be and is willing to use these players.
“By the way, his assistant manager, Jody Morris, managed all these players at the academy level. It was the exact reasoning [why] Chelsea would need to use the youth and finally hire someone like Frank Lampard, who’s resume, managerial-wise was almost incomplete. One year at Derby [County] and you could debate if it was good, okay, or not good but he was the manager to use youth, to know the youth and to know what the club needs.
“The only last reason why I think the club went with it and why I was also really okay with it is how damn good Liverpool and Manchester City are. It also helped because if they felt that the league is wide open, I don’t think they would have done it. I don’t think they would have hired Frank Lampard, they would have hired a more experienced manager.”
If you could pick one, which player do you feel has made the most impact this season from the Chelsea Academy?
“Tammy Abraham or Mason Mount. Tammy Abraham has the stats on his side. [He has] thirteen goals, three assists and really proved that there is no number nine curse and that he could be the starting striker for Chelsea now and, more importantly, in the future – really until the last month or so of the season, where he was injured and just looked kind of overran and fatigued.
“On the flip, Mason Mount [had] six goals, four assists, and played more of an honest midfielder even though he wasn’t going to be the player of the season for Chelsea (I think that was Mateo Kovačić), Mason Mount was asked to do the most this season. [He] Played in the most Premier League games for Chelsea and played in, by far, the most positions. He played as an eight, ten, a left winger, right inside forward, left inside forward and sometimes a shadow striker.
“[He was] the defensive leader out there, not in terms of a centre-back or goalkeeper, but in terms of pressing which is a huge identity to Lampard. He was always the one leading everyone to closing down angles, how to press in a certain way, in a certain style and waving on players like N’Golo Kanté, Kovačić, Willian and Pedro. Those are all players who are known to have really good work rates.
“That’s vastly impressive and really beyond what a 20 and 21-year-old should be asked to do in the Premier League. Obviously, the background that Mason Mount had with Frank Lampard the season before at Derby helped. He really was asked to kind of be more of a senior player while having his first season in the Premier League. At the end of the day, I will say Tammy because goals win you games and he had thirteen goals, no penalties, scored in a variety of ways and scored some big ones.”
Callum Hudson-Odoi last season had a very good year with Chelsea. His season ended with an Achilles injury. This is a serious injury that could really change a player’s career. Now, this year he has returned to the club but hasn’t been nearly the same as he was last year and that’s due to the fact, he’s missed a lot of playing time. The forward has put in mixed performances as he’s shown to play at a high level as well at a level that shows his form is not there yet. Do you feel Callum has been treated unfairly this season and do you expect him to regain the form that he showed last season?
“Yes, I totally expect him to get back to what we thought he would be currently doing. I think people don’t know enough about the Achilles injury. It is such a tough injury, even when you’re back. Look at any sport, players don’t usually feel like themselves and have that out of their head mentally for a year after. the stats are there to prove it.
“I was definitely gutting for him and think yeah, at moments he came back and was actually phenomenal.
“He was also kind of thrown in the fire. He wasn’t thrown back into a team that had a bunch of senior players, like Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and you could kind of ease back in. Once he was fit and ready to go, he was somebody that Frank Lampard needed to play quite a lot.
“He did turn things around to a certain extent in terms of performances right before he pulled up with a hamstring injury.
“He’s just insanely talented, he is 19 [years old] and he is a confident kid. So yeah, you might snowball in your head a little bit with the flack you’re getting for not being [Kylian] Mbappé right away, but he is somebody that [was] thrown back out there and especially with this team whose got such a great spirit. He’s somebody that’s going to exude confidence and really will hit the ground running.
“I have no doubt about it. He’s so young still and now he has plenty of adversity. The sooner you experience adversity, the really more well prepared you’ll be for a bad game in the future and more likely it doesn’t not turn into a long slump.
“I think he’s in the right situation, on the right team to feel confident, feel backed and be able to go express himself. Still, he’s going to be a key player for Lampard. It’s a young squad, Willian and Pedro are most certainly leaving [and they have left now] and so really its there for the taking for him.”
A big thank you to Alex Goldberg for the interview. Make sure to check his podcast out ‘The Byline’ and his social media platforms. Feel free to check out The Chelsea Spot too for more interviews, including one with ex Chelsea legend Pat Nevin!
In the best episode yet of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, we got the wonderful opportunity to interview Chelsea legend Pat Nevin. A big thank you to Pat of course for taking his time out to talk to us, and also our hosts Dan (@danbarkzr), Orlando (@0rland1nho) and Jordan especially as he was the one who organised this episode (@brighty160), as well as our producer (@ACParee).
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If you don’t have time to listen to the whole podcast now, you can read some of the best quotes from it here.
Pat talks about the best opponents he played with and against while playing for Chelsea, playing international football vs Maradona, Black Lives Matter, hanging out with Pele, Billy Gilmour, Frank Lampard, Virgil Van Dijk, and so so much more! Have a look down below for exact timestamps on the most exciting topics!
#TheChelseaSpot | #Chelsea | #CFC
Players Pat has played against – 4.50
Racism in football/Black Lives Matter – 10.18
How good can Billy Gilmour be, in comparison with Jorginho? – 16.30
Why is Frank Lampard different from most managers? – 20.30
How is the philosophy of Chelsea changing at the moment? – 24.04
How and why do different players have different paths? – 29.29
Coaching vs Punditry, why? – 33.09
Pat explains his secret DJ’ing career! – 36.07
Chelsea Player of the Season? – 39.17
Why is Pat a Chelsea fan? How have football fans changed since Pat’s playing days? – 42.40
What is Pat’s favourite Chelsea chant? – 46.29
What are Pat’s thoughts on the new signings coming in this season, and how might they affect the academy players? – 47.25
How is it working in and around the club nowadays? – 53.29
Which youngsters from the academy are Pat looking forward to seeing play for the first team in the future? – 56.13