|LET’S BE FRANK: Frank Lampard will be under added pressure at Chelsea next season. — AFP/VNA Photo|
by Paul Kennedy
For all the wrong reasons, I was never really a big fan of Frank Lampard when he played for Chelsea.
Granted, he was one of the greatest English midfielders to play the game, but purely and simply the colours he wore on the pitch made me despise him just as much as I hate drinking warm beer with ice. And that’s a lot.
I suppose his undoubted talent was also a contributing factor to my general loathing and once when I came within a few yards of Frank I let my feelings be known, granted I was surrounded by a mob of 40,000 plus Liverpool fans sat in the front row at Anfield.
I doubt Frank will remember my abuse, or even care.
Now he has hung up his boots and taken over as manager of Chelsea, there are many new challenges for Frank.
Over the weekend Chelsea were well and truly spanked by Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16, and the week before they lost in the FA Cup final to Arsenal.
Truly a septem horribilis for Frank and everyone connected to Chelsea.
The match against the German champions was a men against boys encounter and finished with an aggregate final score of 7-1 in favour of the Bavarians, which was probably flattering to Chelsea.
Chelsea were thumped but this is hardly a time for Lamps or any of the Stamford Bridge hierarchy to hit the panic button. Chelsea are a young side, with a young manager who should really be judged this time next season (if football ever gets back to normal that is), rather than now.
The other thing to remember is Chelsea have been a consistently decent outfit for the past 10 years purely because they spend big.
For the last two transfer windows, they have been banned from splashing the cash for breaching FIFA regulations, but now their spending restrictions have been lifted, I think it’s fair to say money-bags owner Roman Abramovich will be digging deep into his bottomless pockets.
They have already signed Timo Werner and lead the race for the signature of fellow German, Kai Havertz. I’d expect more big-name signings soon.
They will be playing Champions League football next season and although great improvement is needed, I can see Chelsea doing well, both in Europe and domestically.
Some, and I do include myself in this bracket, may argue that once again, Abramovich is just buying his way to the top, but that’s just part and parcel of the modern game.
Oodles of cash to spend right now when many clubs are struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will put Chelsea in a good position, and certainly improve Frank’s chances during his second season in charge.
But with this will come added pressure.
Antonio Conte won both the Premier League and FA Cup with Chelsea and was then sacked after failing to qualify for the Champions league in 2018.
Maurizio Sarri led Chelsea to Europa League success in 2019 and he too was shown the door, proving it takes a lot to please Abramovich.
I hope he sticks with Frank and gives him a chance to prove himself.
Without the luxury of being able to buy any players, Lampard has taken Chelsea to an FA Cup final, the last 16 of the Champions League and finished in the top four of the Premier League.
Only time will tell if he can build on that success and lead Chelsea to the top once more. — VNS