Suggestions that this would be one of the most open and difficult Premier League season seems to be accurate so far.
Just six points separate the top nine teams in the division. Arsenal are in the bottom half, in 13th with 20 points after Matchday 16.
Everything has changed, at least to some extent. This wasn’t what most fans predicted.
Having spent more than £200 million in the summer transfer window, and enjoyed a 17-match unbeaten run in all competitions, there were expectations from fans and the entire football world that this Chelsea side would be in the race for silverware this season.
But a 1-0 loss to Everton at Goodison Park on December 12 marked the beginning of a downward spiral. Chelsea have picked up just five points from their next five games, with further losses to Wolves and Arsenal and a draw to Villa to end the year.
So judging by that should fans be worried? What should we expect from a side that is badly out of form heading into 2021? Is Frank Lampard the one? These and many more questions would be in a lot of fans mind and rightly so.
Lampard knew from day one what he was stepping into; he’s always been clear about that. He’s no Mourinho or Ancelotti. Lampard wasn’t going to win trophy after trophy and immediately ascend to the world’s elite management ranks. He’s shown flashes though.
When Chelsea hired Lampard, the club’s hierarchy committed to going on this journey with a young manager and sticking with him through the growing pains- at least until the end of his contract. He deserves that.
This was never going to be easy. Lampard wasn’t going to step in and immediately transform the club; he wasn’t going to snap his fingers and fix everything. It’s time to open your eyes and admit it: when Sarri departed, despite the Europa League win, Chelsea was in shambles. Each manager represented a temporary solution to an ongoing problem, except for Lampard. Our record goal-scorer represented the long-term fix, with the downside being the time it took him to rebuild the club.
Lampard became the first manager ever to do a league double over Mourinho last season. Out foxing Mourinho twice in a season has to be some achievement. He’s beaten Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and other legendary coaches in his first two seasons.
Sure, he still has a lot to learn about management and mistakes are made, but that’s what it means to be a young coach in the world’s best league though. If every team were to fire its manager when the going gets tough, the aforementioned Klopp wouldn’t have the trophies he does and Sir Alex Ferguson’s name wouldn’t be immortalized above a stand at Old Trafford.
The board and Lampard are in it for the long haul. The last few weeks have taught us that year two is going to be somewhat similar to year one with a lot of ups and downs.
The gaffer knew at the beginning of the year and as soon as Klopp and Jose Mourinho named Chelsea as title contenders- the Blues would not be in that conversation just yet.
Many will cite Jurgen Klopp as a modern day example of why clubs should give a manager time, and that’s because it’s a perfect comparison. Klopp came into Liverpool and spent a lot of money, but getting consistent results still took time; the same goes for Lampard. A lot of individuals simply call the English manager a failure this season because when spending that amount of money, the Blues should be in the title race. That is understandable, but not the whole truth.
A lot has to be changed from now till the end of the season. His game management have been poor and has to improve. He also has to learn to make the right substitutions at the right time to influence the game.
Despite his drawbacks, you’d be lying to yourself if you say you haven’t seen certain promising signs from him, regardless of him being inexperienced. Cries of #LampardOut all over social media have been unfair. An overhaul wasn’t going to be easy but try not to be reactionary and let’s asses the manager at the end of the season, or better, at the end of his contract.
Written by- Raphael (@finallyRaphael)
Cover photo- Getty Images