There are some teams that can’t literally buy a soul during the transfer window; Chelsea isn’t one of them
With Frank Lampard back at Chelsea, this time as manager of his old club, Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich has opened is coin purse ever wider. The clubs spending reached video game-esque levels this particular summer, with Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva joining an already stacked lineup, London just got even more competitive than last season.
And yet, should it not be more competitive than last season, or even the same as the prior campaign, the summers euphoria could quickly dissipate, to be replaced upheaval and even dismissal; welcome to Chelsea Football Club!
Chelsea FC: “If you’re not first, you’re last!!”
While we all know this line from the famous Will Ferrell comedy, “Talladega Nights”, it could just as easily be embossed around Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are so picky in fact, that they even fire winners, in the hopes of somehow building on top of that single, with perhaps a double or a treble.
It is the absolute opposite of most clubs around the world, around most every sport. It is important to let a culture develop, to leta manager take control and build something unique and organic. But Chelsea, run much like a corporation from his native Russia, simply cares about the result with little concern for the journey there; this is especially true with the amount of money he spends yearly.
And so, while Roman giveth, Roman taketh away as well. He has given Jose Mourinho two chances, and taken both back; he has done the same once to Carlo Ancelotti, Maurizio Sarri, and Antonio Conte alike. He has essentially fired the Serie A shortlist for recent top managers, historically speaking; but his tenure speaks for itself in spite of these laughable nuances.
With Frank Lampard, he clearly has a soft spot for the former Chelsea legend turned boss. The war chest he allotted to Lampard’s administration is as impressive and comprehensive as any we’ve seen given to a manager in a long time. And so he must deliver the goods with it, at least some of the goods, or risk the same fate as his predecessors.
Frank Lampard: The Next Step for him this year as well
If Frank Lampard is depending on his young players to take the next step this season, then his young platers, as well as boss, are also expecting the same of him. While I like Lampard and do believe he has quality as a football mind and manager, it is difficult to say that he was not trounced by a superior soccer mind, up to this point, when Chelsea faced Arsenal in the FA Cup Final.
While silent consolation may have been found in Arsenal’s stunning victory against Liverpool in the Community Shield only weeks later, you’re not likely to hear Frank Lampard tell you about it. He is on a mission for this season, and that will entail improving himself, as well as in placing these brilliant talents in the right positions, at the right times.
While Ziyech and Chilwell will start the regular season with lower body injuries, don’t think that’s an excuse for Lampard or Chelsea. A slow start could see another manager in London by Halloween; no, Chelsea need to start fast and choose the best shapes to accommodate their star power.
Against Brighton in their simple opening season thrashing, they played an unusual 4-2-2-2, taking advantage of the depth and versatility of their roster in really creative ways. Having Kante and Jorginho in front of the back four is, I think, really genius and thoughtful; but he likely won’t keep just single shape for the entire year.
As they utilize different shapes like the 4-3-3, 4-2-2-2 and others, we will see just how best Chelsea can slot together, and in which shape they are most effective while playing in. Without consistency, it will be difficult for Chelsea to fend off the teams nipping at their heels this coming season; without doing so, the Chelsea experiment could find itself being headed by a much different administrator than Frank Lampard.
But should he figure out the right lineup for all of the talent and ability that Chelsea have, injured and healthy, he will be going nowhere. For Chelsea has lots of love for Frank, and Lampard for Chelsea as well; there can hardly be a soul more determined to bring them back to glory than he is, but does Roman Abramovich know that as well?