Chelsea Football Club has undergone a plethora of changes over the last two seasons. The board led by Roman Abramovic is struggling to establish stability and have had a difficult time finding a coach who would stay at the helm for a lengthy spell.
After showing Antonio Conte the door in 2018, The West Londoners expected Maurizio Sarri to rebuild the side and transform them into regular contenders in all competitions. However, by the end of the season, the Blues suffered a double blow, with Sarri leaving for Juventus and star-man Eden Hazard finally moving to Real Madrid after years of speculation.
The abrupt departure of both the coach and the best player left the fans in disarray. With a transfer ban restraining Chelsea from making any reinforcements till January of 2020, and a limited number of well-established coaches available, the Blues were heading into oblivion.
The heavy mood around Stamford Bridge soon transmuted into ecstasy when the club announced the appointment of the legendary Frank Lampard, amidst reports of yet another Jose Mourinho return.
The 41-year-old, who is Chelsea's all-time top scorer, joined on a 3-year contract, making him the first English manager to manage the club in over two decades.
However, several factors remain unassessed. Pundits fear that the appointment of Lampard could be a hasty decision as he is still inexperienced with only one year of managerial expertise under his belt. Expectations need to be lowered since he will be locking horns with some of the best minds behind the game; Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, and Mauricio Pochettino.
On the contrary, the lack of experience doesn't necessarily imply failure. An example being Pep Guardiola whose managerial career kicked off at Barcelona where he went on to win 13 trophies during his 4-year stint.
Enough firepower upfront?
Lampard will have to make the most of what is available, with Christian Pulisic and Mateo Kovacic being the only signings they could make. Chelsea recalled Tammy Abraham from Aston Villa and Mason Mount from Derby to increase Lampard's attacking options.
Willian and Pedro are the only experienced attackers available but are far from their best. Lampard's 4-2-3-1 will see Pulisic and Willian at the flanks while Ross Barkley takes up the central role. Olivier Giroud will need to consistently pitch in match-winning performances or could see himself losing the starting position to Abraham. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will look to build on their impressive performances.
N'golo Kante can go back to his comfortable CDM position while Jorginho will no longer be used as a Regista. Jorginho will be quintessential in transitioning from defense to attack.
Hazard's departure means that Chelsea will need to function more efficiently as a unit to ensure that they don't miss the Belgian's world-class abilities. Hence it would be exciting to see whether Lampard will prefer seasoned players or rely on youngsters.
Chelsea's back four do not possess the same degree of excellence that is displayed by Manchester City and Liverpool. David Luiz and Rudiger aren't entirely reliable, with the latter being injury-prone. Marcos Alonso had a season to forget. Captain Cesar Azpilicueta is the only steadfast link amidst an unpredictable backline. Emerson Palmieri and Andreas Christensen have impressed, but are yet to display grit and solidity. Kepa Arrizabalaga has been leaky and will surely need to raise the bar to justify his astronomical transfer fee.
Lampard is surely a massive upgrade to Sarri in terms of charisma. His presence at the touchline will electrify Stamford Bridge. A good start is necessary to provide momentum for the latter stages of the season. With Chelsea returning to the UEFA Champions League this season, fans will be hoping for a strong campaign. The main goal will be to finish in the top 4. Only time will tell if Lampard can put all the doubts about his appointment to rest.
Positive results against Manchester United in the opening fixture of the Premier League and Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup will give Lampard the perfect platform to build on.Published 29 Jul 2019, 19:28 IST