In Frank Lampard, Chelsea have arguably the most exciting manager in the Premier League. Granted, they have not won any silverware yet, but the former Blues midfielder has garnered enough experience during his stint at Derby County to effectively manage his beloved Chelsea.
It is now a recurring pattern in the history of most football clubs that former players often tend to become influential figures later, sometimes as a manager, and at other times as a sporting director (Eric Abidal at Barcelona).
A similar narrative has unfolded at Stamford Bridge. Lampard was a Chelsea man through and through, in spite of his short spell at Manchester City during the twilight of his career.
Lampard’s biggest achievement was Chelsea finishing fourth this season, in the process claiming the final UEFA Champions League spot, which was a much-deserved reward for all his hard work.
With reinforcements arriving next season in the form of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, coupled with the promotion of young attacking midfielder Faustino Anjorin, Chelsea will be an exciting prospect in next season’s edition of the Premier League.
Here, we take a look at some of the salient achievements of Frank Lampard as Chelsea manager this season.
Frank Lampard's first managerial season at Chelsea
It has to be said that when one is managing a club of the stature of Chelsea FC, expectations are always high. The pressure is even more when the manager has been formerly associated with the club as a player.
This was exactly the situation for the 42-year-old Frank Lampard. He came in at Chelsea after experiencing memorable managerial moments with second division club Derby County. One of them was when Derby knocked out Premier League giants and Chelsea’s arch-rivals Manchester United out of the Carabao Cup.
Lampard guided Derby to the playoffs in the Premier League, but it was a pity that he could not get the Pride Park outfit past Aston Villa in the final. However, Lampard’s stint at Derby convinced the Chelsea management that their former player was ready to assume the hot seat at Stamford Bridge.
The former Blues player has performed exceptionally well in that respect. But his managerial stint was not without its controversial moments.
In the penultimate game of the season at Anfield, Frank Lampard got involved in a verbal duel with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp; the game finished 5-3 against Lampard's Chelsea.
It seamed that the defeat would put Chelsea out of contention for the fourth spot. Lampard was criticised for his verbal abuse, and Klopp hinted at his counterpart’s inexperience.
But Lampard and Chelsea managed to bounce back by beating Wolves at home in their final game of the season to hold on to fourth spot and guarantee themselves Champions League football.
For now, all one can say is that Frank Lampard will only get better as a Chelsea manager.
Frank Lampard missed the services of Eden Hazard at Stamford Br
For many years, Eden Hazard had been Chelsea’s messiah. Since his arrival in 2012, the Belgian winger was the North London club’s best player of the year on three different occasions – 2014, 2015 and 2019.
Lampard lost the Belgian to Real Madrid in the season he arrived at Chelsea, and we shall never know how the Englishman's first season in charge would have turned out had the mazy winger been a part of his squad.
Hazard was looking at his spectacular best and would have certainly have improved Chelsea, but Lampard’s success is even more praiseworthy because he was deprived of such a talented player.
Frank Lampard had to endure Chelsea’s Transfer Ban
To make matters more difficult, Chelsea were slapped with a transfer ban when Lampard was appointed the new manager of the Stamford Bridge outfit. Having already lost the services of Hazard, this was another big blow.
Chelsea’s two-window transfer ban was imposed due to a breach of Article 19 and Article 18bis, which involve the transfer and registration of players below the age of 18.
Lampard, a world-class player, knew the art of getting past tricky situations such as this one. Thus he devised the ingenious idea of trusting his young academy players.
Frank Lampard's trust in young Chelsea players paid off
To compensate for the loss of Eden Hazard and to work around the transfer ban hurdle, Frank Lampard had to repose faith in Chelsea's young players. He honed and nurtured talented academy players such as Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount and Reece Adams.
Other Chelsea youngsters Faustino Anjorin, who have not yet managed to carve a place for themselves, will now have reasons to believe that the next few seasons could be their time to shine.
Frank Lampard’s trust in young players means that the England national team will also be indebted to the Blues manager, as his tutelage has proved massively beneficial for Chelsea’s young English players.
Frank Lampard won both games against his former boss
It is not an easy feat to beat seasoned managers at their own games, especially for a newbie manager like Frank Lampard. But that is exactly what Lampard did in his first season at the Stamford Bridge hot seat.
During the season, in various competitions, Lampard beat Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Brendan Rodgers, Eric Ten Hag, Mikel Arteta and Nuno Espirito Santos.
However, most notably, Lampard became the first manager to do the double against Jose Mourinho, when Chelsea beat the Portuguese tactician-managed Tottenham Hotspur home (2-1) and away (0-2) in the Premier League.
Frank Lampard in contention to win silverware in his first season as Chelsea manager
Interestingly enough, Frank Lampard’s maiden season as Chelsea boss could yet end with silverware. Chelsea are set to face North London rivals Arsenal in the FA Cup final on the 1st of August.
Chelsea could even reach the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League. But with his side trailing 3-0 against Bayern Munich after the Round of 16 first leg, it looks a very tall proposition for Lampard's men to turn around the tie in the return leg in Munich.
Regardless of how the remainder of the 2019-20 season pans out, Lampard’s first season in charge of Chelsea would be regarded as a fairly successful one.Published 28 Jul 2020, 19:58 IST