The sacking of Frank Lampard as Chelsea manager is a bitter pill to swallow. While not unexpected, now the day has come, it is a difficult one for Chelsea fans to take.
Lampard captained the club on its greatest ever night. Chelsea fans around the world hoped he could replicate his playing success as a manager.
Lampard guided a young squad into the Champions League and to the FA Cup Final in 2019/20. Chelsea topped the Premier League table following a 3-1 victory over Leeds and it appeared that the Chelsea boss was taking his team in the right direction.
However, five defeats in eight league games have seen things unravel. The loss at Leicester felt like breaking point and so it proved. Despite this, what legacy does Frank Lampard leave behind from his 18 months in charge?
Not since John Terry had a player from Chelsea’s academy emerged into becoming a first-team regular. Not a single manager in the Abramovich era had successfully integrated an academy star into the first-team. In Frank Lampard’s tenure, an academy graduate started all 89 matches.
Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham are the major successes. At times last season, Mount and Abraham carried Chelsea, particularly in the early months. Abraham’s 15 league goals last season were a springboard for Chelsea’s excellent form between September and November.
Meanwhile, Mount’s development has been almost exclusively down to Lampard’s tutelage. The young midfielder has excelled, particularly this season, in a #8 midfield role. Chelsea’s number 19 was awarded the captaincy by Lampard for the FA Cup tie against Luton as a reward for his consistently excellent displays amidst Chelsea’s recent plight.
Frank Lampard has also integrated Reece James and Billy Gilmour. Callum Hudson-Odoi has also become a prominent member of the squad. From a club which refrained in giving youngsters significant minutes to one in which gave more academy minutes than every club bar Norwich in 2019/20, thus saving the club hundreds of millions of pounds.
Lampard created a tangible connection between players and fans. Fans were desperate to see a core of players made in Chelsea succeed. Frank Lampard and his faith in young talent was vindicated.
Squad construction – managing the loss of Eden Hazard
In addition to the academy breakthroughs, the role of Frank Lampard in many of Chelsea’s summer signings was huge.
Kai Havertz, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell, to name just three, cited the influence of Lampard upon signing for the club. Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Edouard Mendy were all additions which added to the quality of the squad.
All six of Chelsea’s summer signings, regardless of their current form, were met with excitement. Compared to the likes of Willian, Pedro, Marcos Alonso and Kepa, these players were all an improvement on the options Chelsea already had.
In attack, Chelsea had gone stale before the appointment of Lampard. The loss of Eden Hazard was a blow for the club who had often relied on his genius in attacking areas. Lampard managed the loss of Hazard superbly. His 2019/20 side scored more goals than Maurizio Sarri’s 2018/19 team, highlighting how our ex-manager managed to make a more threatening unit.
Chelsea’s attacking options at the end of Maurizio Sarri’s tenure were as follows: Eden Hazard, Willian, Pedro, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Olivier Giroud and Gonzalo Higuain, with Christian Pulisic yet to arrive. Lampard leaves his successor, likely to be Thomas Tuchel, with a plethora of options. Tuchel will have Havertz, Ziyech, Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi, Abraham, Giroud and Werner to choose from.
Make no mistake, Frank Lampard’s squad construction has been terrific. The integration of academy talent and reputable summer signings have refreshed a squad which was beginning to go stale.
Thomas Tuchel is the man to succeed Frank Lampard in the Stamford Bridge dugout. The German inherits a squad in far better shape than the one which Lampard inherited.
Marquee signings of huge talent mixed with young players with immense talent and love for Chelsea. This is a Chelsea squad with lots going for it. Tuchel takes over a squad with enormous potential. The German will be under immediate pressure following the nature of Lampard’s dismissal. However, the former PSG coach has the opportunity to impress on three fronts in the remainder of the season.
Frank Lampard will not be forgotten easily in West London. His playing days were one of success and the legacy of his managerial tenure is one of laying the foundations for success. There may have been no fairytale ending for Lampard but his work isn’t without merit. He took over at a difficult time and revitalised the club with young, hungry talent.
He established connections, not only between academy and first-team but between players and fans. Frank Lampard leaves the club in a much better place than when he took over. Frank Lampard is, was and always will be, a legend at Chelsea Football Club.