Chelsea are arguably at the most challenging stage since Roman Abramovich bought the club in June 2003. The Blues have been blessed with success during his time at the helm but now they face a difficult period and it seems they’re destined to hand the managerial reigns to ex-player Frank Lampard. It could be a disaster for both parties if things don’t go to plan but if he’s given time the whole situation could be a blessing in disguise and set Chelsea up for a sustained period of glory.
The immediate problems facing Lampard are interlinked. Firstly, his hands will be firmly tied due to the transfer embargo that’s hanging over the club, which means he won’t be able to bring in any new talent to freshen up the squad, which would pose a problem for any team. Even Manchester City are looking to strengthen again – but throw into the mix that star player Eden Hazard has moved on to Real Madrid and there’s a gaping hole to fill and it’s one Lampard will have to find his solution in house.
Lampard proved during his limited time managing Derby that he trusts younger players in big moments. His willingness to put players into the firing line will stand him in good stead and the players who have been on the periphery – to say the least – in recent years appear more than capable of making an impact in the Premier League if given the chance. There is nobody in the squad who’s a ready-made replacement for Hazard, but Lampard could create a side that’s greater than the sum of its part to combat that loss.
His status as a club legend will buy him time from the fans, and a togetherness will undoubtedly form, which is a quality that shouldn’t be overlooked in any team. Of course, that’s not to say there won’t be talent on show at Stamford Bridge next season.
Under the previous manager, Maurizio Sarri, two younger players, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, were only used sporadically during the season despite turning in impressive and impactful performances. You can expect them to push on in any side managed by Lampard. Lampard also oversaw the development of Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori – two further Chelsea ‘kids’ – during his 12 months in the Championship and it’s highly likely they’ll see game time under him again given they were often raved about during their loan spells.
Providing there are no further significant moves out – Willian and Jorginho have been linked with Barcelona and Juventus respectively – Lampard will have a decent defensive base to work with and N’golo Kante will be like a new signing when he’s returned to his best position.
Besides the transfer ban, Chelsea will most likely be allowed to sign Matteo Kovacic, who was at loan in the club this season, activating his buyout clause. This means they will secure another option in midfield. At the top end of the pitch a goal threat could be harder to come by though.
Despite a third-place finish and Europa League triumph last year a lack of creativity was bemoaned – although Sarri’s tactical approach didn’t help – and January signing from Dortmund, the American Christian Pulisic. Oliver Giroud is an underrated target man and will probably be the main man up top Plus Tammy Abraham, forgotten men Michy Batshuayi and Alvaro Morata might be called upon to chip in too.
The biggest challenge for Lampard though will be negotiating a fair crack of the whip from Abramovich, who is known to be sharp on the trigger with his managers. Lampard could prove to be a master at Chelsea, but a reality check is needed if anyone thinks the Blues will compete for major honours in the coming campaign.
Right now, the chances of Chelsea winning the Premier League next season are as feasible as the ones of the New York Mets on the odds to win the World Series: pretty scarce. Still, if Conte did it on his first season, it might be a spark of hope for the Blues fans to overcome the odds and the criticism.