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.
In another episode of The Chelsea Spot Podcast, Orlando (Host – @0rland1nho) and Paree (Owner – @CFCParee) were joined by special guest Adam Newson (@AdamNewson – Journalist for Football.London) who talked about Chelsea leaving the European Super League and the most crazy 72 hours in football history, Adam’s experience being at the Stamford Bridge protest including the bore draw to Brighton, the upcoming games against West Ham and Real Madrid as well as the 23s against Manchester United.
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What an absolutely crazy few days. One of the most historic in Football ever, and something we will be telling our children and grandchildren over and over again. In the space of 60 hours, football went from being completely normal, to the potential of being completely destroyed, and then almost back to normal again. I’m mentally drained for sure.
It was reported that we were the first club to leave the European Super League, just two days after ‘verbally agreeing’ to joining the breakaway competition consisting of the ‘best’ 20 teams in Europe as a replacement for the Champions League. Although it probably wasn’t as a consequence of this, a few hours before the exit was announced to the media, there was a large protest outside Stamford Bridge consisting of thousands of fans from multiple Premier League clubs to show their frustration at the boards of these clubs. I’m not going to go into detail about the ESL since we recorded a huge one hour episode on the whole situation, which you can listen here.
It’s absolutely brilliant news that all English clubs will be leaving the ESL and rejoining the ECA, but there is still SO MUCH we can learn from the last few days. I’ll be looking at what we’ve learnt from this whole disaster, and what needs to happen as soon as possible before we see anything like this ever again. Because I bet you now, if a scenario like this is even close to happening in our lifetimes, it will happen – and that’s because the idiotic billionaires would’ve learnt from their mistakes. But it’s now time for us to make sure they don’t get that opportunity to pounce again.
We need an explanation and an apology.
Do not forget what our club owners had in mind initially. All these reports about Chelsea being one of the clubs who felt like they were ‘backed into a corner’ or that Roman Abramovich was never ‘too keen’ is an absolute load of bollocks. Yes, us making the first move in leaving does make it seem realistic, but don’t fall into their PR trap which makes us look like the good guys. We could have rejected the proposal, and acted like the big guy instead of the sheep, except we didn’t – we bottled it.
Remember when Liverpool and Arsenal furloughed some of their staff during the global pandemic and only due to the backlash went and fixed their mistake? It’s the exact same thing. All morals were intended to be defeated as long as they benefitted financially, it was fine in their eyes.
Whatever anyone says, don’t forget that this was just more emphasis on the fact that our club do not give a single crap about their fans. They were happy to destroy football for more money in the expense of Chelsea fans’ enjoyment and satisfaction with the club, and to be honest even mental health as making such a drastic change in the middle of the pandemic when thousands of people are relying on football to keep on going was never going to satisfy. We need an apology from the club, and every single English club deserves an apology too from each top 6 club as their selfishness and greed was very visible and could have left them in huge trouble.
How do we stop this from ever happening again?
Is there anything we can do? I think the first thing which springs to mind is follow a very similar model to how some German clubs do it – the 50+1 model. We talked about it in our latest podcast episode, but to summarise it’s when clubs like Bayern Munich have their fanbase owning a large proportion of the club, so any decision such as these goes through the fans and at the best interest of them. After all, everyone knows this, but fans are solely the reason for why football is so big as it is. There also has to be more legaslation from the Premier League sides of things which should make sure that there is no risk of them leaving domestic football.
To be fair, Chelsea were actually a bit ahead of other Premier League clubs on this one. Before everything was resolved, people were thinking about ‘Chelsea Pitch Owners’ as a possibility of a way to get out of the ESL. To quickly summarise, the CPO is made up of fans of the club who can own shares of the pitch, as well as owning rights to the name ‘Chelsea’, as well as the stadium meaning that every home game had to be played in Fulham. This meant that if the ESL was to hold their tournament somewhere else, under the clauses in the CPO, this wouldn’t be possible and we would have to leave the breakaway.
So, get fans involved, whatever way it is. Football will always be a business, I get that. But football can only be a business with fans of the club. So don’t lose them – we’re fans, not consumers.
We need to use the same energy to defeat bigger problems like racism.Something which Patrick Bamford mentioned following Leeds draw with Liverpool was how quickly UEFA and FIFA responded, and I totally agree. He talked about that as soon as money was involved and their business was at a risk, statements were flying about every ten minutes and there was very clear communication. However, when a huge problem in football like racism gets involved, it normally takes a few weeks for something to come out, and the punishment tends to be very small.
I mean, FIFA were literally threatening players who participated in the European Super League with bans from the Euros and the World Cup despite it not being their fault and it all being money based, yet the racist towards Glen Kamara only got a 10 match ban? Make it make sense.
I think also, we as fans and viewers can do better too. Look at how every single club, pundit, fan and celebrity were united together to end this idea of a ESL. Yet when racism is talked about, we see a few tweets here and there and some 5 minute television coverage. It’s not good enough, it needs to change, and we have to see the same energy towards getting rid of these huge issues in every day life, and football.
The new Champions League format still needs changing.
I think not many people have realised this. The ESL, from a club’s point of view, was only accepted because they were not happy with the money gained in the Champions League, and it was a threat to UEFA to change this format which is still happening from 2024.
In fact, one of the biggest criticisms about the ESL was it’s format, when the new UCL one isn’t that far off it either. The biggest complain was how Arsenal and Spurs were involved despite not winning anything and were there to stay based off historical events, and it’s the same here as you can see in the second bullet point. The final point also was criticised with the ESL format in that there would be simply too many games and the players will burn out very quickly. And if they won’t burn out, the players will be rested for the ‘weaker’ games in their domestic countries, making that a lot less entertaining.
And most importantly, although I disagree with it, the revenue has to increase from UEFA’s standpoint to the clubs. Otherwise what’s stopping the ESL happening once again in 2024 when the clubs aren’t happy with the money they are making from the Champions League?
Will we ever be able to come back from this remarkable moment in history?
I spoke to our writer Jon about this one, and this is what he had to say:
Look at the fan reaction earlier today – you can’t look at that and ignore that this entire thing ever happened. It’s like a permanent stain on our history. We had to have Petr Cech, a club legend, go out there and risk himself in a mob of angry people to try and get them to let the bus out for the players to go play; and it’s of no fault to the players and coaches like Klopp said yesterday. These are some young kids that are the same age as me, or not much older or younger that are seeing their dreams of representing their country in Euros or the World Cup or playing in the UCL final flash before their eyes because of a choice that’s not theirs, and then they have to honor their contract to this club that is doing this to them.
And he’s not wrong. There is so much power in football, and that will never change. But it is remarkable how in a blink of an eye it looked like no academy players would be playing for their big teams any more, players wouldn’t be allowed to play in the Euros, World Cup, Premier League and any home countries. And then even more crazily that they didn’t have a single choice. Fans, players, coaches – they’re keeping the clubs alive, no one else, and they need to be respected.
Do you agree with me? Let me know what you think by tagging us on our social media platforms or leaving a comment down below!
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 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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Two hundred and eleven goals in the blue of Chelsea. Thirteen trophies gathered during his playing career at Stamford Bridge. One European Cup won as captain of London’s finest. Countless memorable displays. Frank Lampard is not so much a part of Chelsea, as he is Chelsea itself. It is beyond this writer’s understanding that anyone could be calling for the head of our greatest ever player after all he has given this club. But putting sentimentality to one side, in this piece I will try and outline a case for Frank Lampard remaining as manager of Chelsea Football Club, as well as suggesting where and how he can improve his side in the coming weeks.
A glance at the Premier League standings is enough to make any Chelsea fan grimace, the Blues are languishing in 9th place at the time of writing, behind the likes of Aston Villa, Southampton and Everton. But that is not to say that the lowly standing is deserved. Had the likes of Timo Werner been more clinical in front of goal and Edouard Mendy been available instead of the hapless Kepa Arrizabalaga to keep goal in games against West Brom and Liverpool, the table could have a very different look about it. As it stands, the Blues’ big-money summer signing (hot off a 28-league goal campaign) has failed to find the net in his previous 9 league outings. However, if his 5 efforts on goal which had rattled the woodwork gone in, the German would have been hailed a resounding success and the Blues would be further up the table. Thanks also to Kepa’s inability to do the absolute basics of goalkeeping, Chelsea conceded 5 goals and dropped 5 crucial points in the three aforementioned games. Put simply, Lampard and his team have not had the rub of the green so far this campaign, and to further demonstrate this, Chelsea sit 2nd in the expected points table so far (via Understat). As it stands, the Londoner’s are 6 points and 7 places below where their performances deem them worthy of. It is likely that with time Chelsea will go on a hot-streak and overperform their expected results, balancing out their luck over the course of the season and firing them up the table.
A 3-1 victory over Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United temporarily put Chelsea top of the table in early December, following a 9-game unbeaten streak in the league. However, those three points came at a hefty price as the majestic Hakim Ziyech succumbed to injury, keeping him out of the next 5 league games, 3 of which Chelsea lost. Before that it seemed Lampard was on to something with his 4-3-3 system, Ziyech being the main beneficiary of the set up. Both full backs were able to bomb forwards, in turn providing space for the wingers to cut in and shoot – or in Ziyech’s case provide left footed deliveries to the back post from the inside-right channel – or feed Reece James or Ben Chilwell on the overlap, who have both provided excellent balls into the box this season. With the loss of Ziyech occurring at the same time as Callum Hudson-Odoi picking up a knock in training, Chelsea were left with only one fit senior winger in Christian Pulisic. As Timo Werner has struggled to adapt his game to the left wing, Lampard’s side lacked any real cohesion in attack, with no width provided outside of the full back duo. The game plan seemed to change to cross and hope, even against Manchester City where all 5-foot-9-inches of Timo Werner were helpless against the comparatively towering duo of Stones and Dias. Crossing may be in vogue at the moment – with Liverpool leading the league this season with 391 attempted so far – but Chelsea need another option in attack for when opponents crowd out box. Slick linkup play and passing patterns will develop as a very young and freshly put together attacking unit gel and get to know each other’s games. When the Blues eventually have a fully fit squad and hit the top form that they showed glimpses of in wins against Burnley and Sheffield United, Lampard’s side will start to play in his image.
Naturally given the busy festive period and the increased frequency of games during this pandemic hit season, many of the squad look jaded and in need of a rest. However, with Lampard’s job on the line he has not been able to afford his key men time to recover which has resulted in their games often looking flat and lacking energy. Perhaps Lampard could afford to rotate more given the quality and depth of squad he has at his disposal. N’Golo Kanté, for example, has been way off his best in appearances against Manchester City and Arsenal – being caught out of position regularly and uncharacteristically careless in possession (see his intercepted blind pass which led to City’s third goal) – and is in need of a rest. Lampard fortunately has the incredibly talented Billy Gilmour ready and raring to go in the Frenchman’s place. Similarly, quality internationals such as Olivier Giroud and Emerson Palmieri as well as talented youngsters in Tino Anjorin and Henry Lawrence are all of sufficient quality to play in the Premier League and could give valuable rest to Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Mason Mount (among others) and Reece James, respectively. Utilising the large squad at his disposal is key to Lampard keeping his players fit enough to play his ideal high-energy pressing game as well as ensuring the players on the fringes of the squad are kept happy and do not revolt when the going gets tough (*cough, Marcus Alonso, cough*).
In his first season at the helm, Lampard looked to have a clear idea on how he wanted his Chelsea side to play. The side pressed aggressively and high up the pitch, bringing their defensive line close to the halfway line in order to compact the opposition in their own half. The results of this modern, progressive game plan were mixed, with Chelsea sparkling in attack – achieving the second highest expected goals scored over the course of the season (76) – but a mess in the defensive transition as teams frequently ripped through them on the counter, contributing to the massive 54 goals conceded throughout the campaign. Having strengthened defensively in the summer with the acquisitions of Mendy, Silva and Chilwell, Lampard would have hoped for a thorough preseason in which he could drill his side on the intricacies of his pressing style and how to efficiently switch shape when possession is lost before opponents can fly up the field. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the fixture list, the manager was given limited time to integrate his 6 summer signings into his system. It is difficult to adjust for that number of signings in any normal season but given the circumstances it has proved a trying task. On top of this, regular domestic and European midweek matches have left little to no time for intensive, detailed work on the training ground. Not only are regular starters fatigued from the workload, but the coaches are unable to properly drill their sides and make the improvements necessary to turn form around. The board must stick by Lampard and give him time to work on his sides set up now that the hectic festive period has come to a close.
Lampard cannot blame all his defeats on a lack of luck and a congested fixture list, however. Injuries and profligacy have hindered Chelsea, but a lot of the harm caused this season has been self-inflicted. A worrying trend has emerged recently that I feel is in desperate need of being rectified. In recent games against Arsenal and Manchester City especially, Chelsea’s entire midfield seems to have vanished for most of the game. It is clear that a three-man midfield unit of Mount, Kanté and Kovacic is not good enough when facing top-half opposition. Both Kanté and Kovacic have very little positional discipline, whilst the latter does very little meaningful pressing or defending – his 1.7 tackles and interceptions per league game this season proving that (for context, Kanté stands at 5.2 in the same metric). Lampard needs to address this issue as a matter of urgency. It could be that playing Billy Gilmour as a deep-lying, disciplined number 6 to break up opposition counter-attacks and to set our attacks in motion could be an option. The 19-year-old Scott is a promising talent and superior to Jorginho in most – if not all – aspects of a midfielder’s game. This could see Kanté returning to his position as a ‘free 8’, given license to roam and destroy opposition breaks before they get going. Another alternative could be to deploy a midfield pivot of Kanté and Mount in a 4-2-3-1 to allow Havertz to play in his favoured role as a number 10, however, this would rely on the Frenchman holding back his natural urge to cover every blade of grass and for Havertz to fully commit defensively. Whatever the solution is, it is obvious that this is a major area Lampard has to look into, and one which could hold the key when it comes to changing Chelsea’s sorry record this season against teams in the top 8.
A major worry for owner Roman Abramovich will be the struggles of summer purchases Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. The German duo were bought in for a combined £120 million and were expected to lead Chelsea’s title charge as Liverpool and Manchester City have faltered this term. However, neither has truly replicated the scintillating form that saw them contribute 36 and 18 Bundesliga goals respectively last season. Having broken the bank to bring the pair to west London, Abramovich is well within his rights to question why Lampard has failed to get the best out of them so far. Whilst the usual excuses of struggling to adapt to a new country and a new league are valid (not to mention Havertz was left reeling following his time out with the COVID-19 virus), it seems that Lampard’s system has not been adjusted to facilitate the Germans. Havertz thrives in the final third, playing high risk, high reward football and making late runs in to the box – as was his manager’s trademark back in his day – to finish moves. Therefore, his positioning as a number 8 on the right of a midfield trio will have frustrated him as he spends much of his time tracking back and tackling and less of it contributing to goals as is his strength (his 3 goal contributions from 15 league games is underwhelming for a player of his calibre). Perhaps a move to a number 10 role where he is able to link play and attack without worrying about defending – and giving the ball away deep in his own half as we have become accustomed to – so much could see him rise from his meagre 0.6 shots and 0.7 key passes a game this season to the 2 he managed in each metric last campaign. Similarly Werner has been forced out of his natural position to facilitate Lampard’s use of a 4-3-3, and although he has been getting into dangerous positions (his 6.8 expected goals from 17 league games is respectable), his ball retention and crossing abilities are nowhere near the level of a natural winger. Playing Werner with one of Giroud or Abraham to feed off – as he did with Yussuf Poulson at RB Leipzig – in a front 2 could help the German rediscover his best form. Feeding off knock-downs and running into the space left by centre backs occupying themselves with his strike partner will help him to find his feet in this league. Managers who have been unable to facilitate their star players have not fared well under Abramovich (see Carlo Ancelotti with Fernando Torres and José Mourinho’s first spell with Andriy Shevchenko) and so it is essential Lampard can get Werner and Havertz playing to the best of their abilities.
It is important to remember that when Lampard was appointed he was not expected to deliver immediate success. Hit with a transfer ban, the young manager was unable to make signings to mould the squad to his liking, and perhaps more importantly, he was unable to replace Chelsea’s greatest player of the last decade in Eden Hazard. Scoring 16 goals and laying on another 15 for his teammates, Hazard directly contributed to 49% of Chelsea’s league goals in his final campaign at Stamford Bridge. It is rare to have a side so overwhelmingly dependent on one talismanic figure, and so losing the Belgian was a massive blow to Lampard. The board decided that Champions League qualification was sufficient in Lampard’s first campaign, with his second focussed on showing further improvements before an expected title charge in his third. It is easy to forget the incredible work Lampard has done thus far at Chelsea and it is reasonable to think that he should be given time to enact his philosophy and push for silverware next season as his three year plan comes to a conclusion.
Fans who have been following Chelsea over the past couple of decades will have been refreshed by the idea of owner Roman Abramovich sticking behind an exciting young coach for the long run. The culture of hiring and firing instilled at the club since the Russian Oligarch’s takeover in 2003 may have bought with it 18 trophies (if we stoop to Arsenal’s level by including our brace of Community Shields), but it has left fans yearning for more stability. In the 16 years that preceded Frank Lampard’s appointment, Abramovich ran through 11 managers (twice welcoming José Mourinho and Guus Hiddink) and yet it is difficult to remember any notable academy graduates breaking through and starring regularly for the senior team in that time. Given the immense pressure to deliver success in the short-term, managers were unable to plan ahead and therefore were reluctant to put their neck on the line for youngsters. Frank Lampard has changed that culture and finally shown everyone why Chelsea’s academy, led so ably by Neil Bath, is renowned worldwide. Promoting Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori to the first team and playing them regularly signalled a huge change in the Chelsea philosophy. No longer were the club going to go out and spend £50 million on a player when an academy graduate who could do their job was working hard for their chance. With Gilmour, Anjorin, Lawrence, Valentino Livramento, Lewis Bate and many more likely to follow their fellow academy graduates to the first team, this progression shows no signs of slowing down. If Lampard were not manager, it is feasible to suggest that none of this would have happened. Yes, we knew Abraham, Mount and James were quality players, but would another manager have stuck by them when they struggled and they had the likes of Giroud, Barkley and Azpilicueta waiting in the wings? Any new arrival could still decide he has no room in his side for Mount, Abraham et al and revert to type. This academy revolution has brought the fans closer to the club than ever before, seeing their own starring week-in-week-out. Lampard is the man who will keep this going, and many fans will massively appreciate that.
Narratives in football change quickly. Coming off the back of a highly respectable debut season at Chelsea which comprised of a top four finish and an FA Cup final, Lampard hit the ground running with a 17-game unbeaten streak in all competitions. A sticky patch of form over a month has seen Chelsea go from ‘title favourites’ (take Klopp’s word not mine!) to midtable mediocrity. But the story can reverse for Lampard just as easily. You only have to glance up North to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to see how quickly fortunes can turn. In early December as Lampard was heavily praised by the media, his counterpart was widely criticised following an early exit from the Champions League and a difficult start to the season which had seen them lose 6-1 at home to Tottenham. A month on and the Norwegian has led United to top of the league with a game in hand. Similar turnarounds have been witnessed at Arsenal and to a lesser-extent Manchester City, as Guardiola has gone from under the radar to apparent favourites for the league. In this highly unusual season, Lampard’s side find themselves a mere 3 points off the top four, albeit having played one or two games more than most sides above them. The compacted calendar means that a few weeks of hot form can result in a long winning run which in turn can fire a side up the table. Should Lampard make a few tweaks to his midfield, get Werner firing again and sort out his press, I have complete faith that the Blues will rocket back up the table. It should be every Chelsea fan’s dream to see a club legend succeed at Stamford Bridge, and fortunately for us Frank Lampard has what it takes to lead us to the top. He just needs time, something which right now seems to be in short supply.
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.”