Chelsea took a gamble in appointing Lampard as their new coach, a gamble that seems to have become the new norm across Europe. A club legend turned rookie coach takes charge of the team, and a sense of calm and understanding permeates the entire club. In a way, fans seem more lenient with their criticism when a club legend takes the hot seat. Bias and excuses become the order of the day.
For Lampard, however, the excuses were even more tenable in light of Chelsea’s transfer ban and the loss of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid. Lampard’s first Premier League couldn’t have been any worse; Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Manchester United soundly beat Chelsea. The excuse was that Lampard was new on the job, and he needs time to settle down and drill the team to play the way he wants.
Coming off the back of a top 4 finish in the Premier League, Lampard’s basket of excuses is already leaking, there will be no hiding place for him. The squad has been bolstered with new signings, including the free signing of PSG’s captain, Thiago Silva, to bring needed experience to the backline. Add the signings of Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Edouard Mendy, and Malanga Sarr to the fray. You realize Lampard has no hiding place this season. Last season, players like Kepa, Abraham, and Rudiger were often maligned for some horrible individual performances effectively absolving Lamard of some schoolboy tactical gaffes; but that excuse no longer holds water with Marina Granovskaia plugging all the personnel loopholes in the team. This, simply, is Lampard’s season to justify the trust reposed in him to deliver silverwares – no more transfer ban, personnel are in place, he is no longer new on the job.
However, if Chelsea’s season opener is anything to go by, the team is still a work in progress. Brighton had Chelsea on the ropes for much of the game. Havertz looked out of sort, Werner at the end of the game, complained that he had never played against such ‘massive defenders’ before. The final scoreline was flattering; little matter; great teams are teams that get the result even on their off days. As Liverpool beckon on the horizon, Lampard needs to get the team up and running to stand a chance against the defending Premier League champions and make a statement of intent.