Is Frank Lampard what Chelsea need right now?

It might have seemed strange that Graham Potter, a manager who was given a five-year contract and frequently backed to build a team, was sacked after only six months in charge. But Chelsea have never been a patient club, even seemingly under new owners.

Problems under Potter

Potter of course did not exactly help himself, lacking a consistent starting XI and formation. Many could saddle this blame on the owners, as Potter attempted to juggle too many players in one go.

However, there were signs that the Englishman was over-complicating things. His decision to play Raheem Sterling as a wing-back against Brighton left the defense exposed. In his final fixture in charge against Aston Villa he put Reece James at center-back, a move that left many fans feeling exhausted.

During the 2021-2022 season with Brighton, Potter’s side were seventh in xG, only outdone by the big six. However, their actual goals scored against their expected goals scored was -0.47. This paints a clearer picture of just why Chelsea have struggled to hit the back of the net despite creating numerous chances. Chelsea’s xG against Villa was 2.28 to Villa’s 0.75.

Lack of consistency

Furthermore, a lack of dependability could be another cause. Because of changes to the starting 11 in nearly every fixture under Potter, chemistry has been absent on the pitch.

Against Southampton back in February, Sterling was subbed on in the second half. Sterling got himself into good positions as he appeared to be the Blue’s only real chance to get something out of the match.

Compared to the forward’s 13 goals and five assists for Manchester City in the Premier League last season, Sterling scored just once and registered one assist in his 13 appearances under Potter. There is a real sense that despite the talent that Chelsea invested in, even players that are Premier League proven are disappearing in a bloated squad.

Frank Lampard’s appointment

As Lampard takes over, one glaring thing that remains is that Chelsea do have too many players. There is a struggle to keep everyone happy and this was exactly where Potter faltered. He failed to imprint his stamp on a team full of big-money talent. Nevertheless, at a club with the expectations of Chelsea, the manager should be able to handle these situations.

Questions have also arisen over Mason Mount’s future. With only one year left on his contract and despite regular meetings with the club, they are yet to agree on a new deal.

Whilst at both Chelsea and Everton, Lampard largely stuck to playing a 4-3-3. At Chelsea, this allowed Mount to flourish in an attacking system, free to constantly make runs into forward areas. However, with the midfielder injured against Wolves and with only eight matches to go, it feels far too late in the season for a player who could possibly be on the move this summer.

A backwards step against Wolves

Lampard was brought in to steady the ship. There was sudden optimism amongst Chelsea fans. Many were ecstatic that Potter had departed after calling for his sacking for months and were further enthused that their beloved Lampard would be returning.

Yet, this nostalgia was soon halted by the reality of the Blues’ 1-0 loss to Wolves. There was no new manager bounce and the squad certainly did not look refreshed or inspired. There were numerous errors all over the pitch, including Kalidou Koulibaly’s poor clearance that fell to Matheus Nunes with plenty of space to smash it home.

It was hard to see any reaction from the side. And for all the promise of youth flourishing under Lampard, Conor Gallagher covered ground but his passing was poor in a midfield that looked completely lost. Against Wolves and Villa, Chelsea had more possession than their opponents. But they registered just one shot on target against Wolves. This was a stark contrast to their eight shots on target against Villa.

For a team that lacks leadership with Lampard himself saying “Some players need to understand what wearing the Chelsea badge means,” his touchline demeanor did not do him any favors in conveying confidence or authority when his team were 1-0 down.

Compared to Thomas Tuchel, who was much more vocal and animatic, many fans will be continuing to wonder what could have been if the current Bayern manager had never been shown the exit.

What next for Chelsea and Lampard

It’s a strange appointment for a club that demands success going back to a manager who for all his triumph in promoting youth, failed to deliver silverware. Yet, maybe the decision by the Chelsea hierarchy was made in part due to Frank previously guiding the side to a top-four finish despite a transfer ban. Perhaps this hinted that he could come back to the club and work with players even amongst the disarray. Or, maybe in appointing a club legend there was a slight sense of wanting to turn down the noise from the fans.

On Match of the Day, Alan Shearer stated that for Lampard it was a win-win situation, but it is difficult to understand where he is coming from. Lampard was sacked at Everton in January after losing numerous matches. He maintained a style of play that left the Toffees exposed instead of playing to their strengths. Additionally, unlike when Lampard was first appointed, he is not a new manager proving his worth by developing Chelsea players like Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham in the EFL Championship.

It is tough to grasp what Lampard could take out of this job that could begin to repair his recent faltering reputation.

What is the expectation for Lampard at Chelsea? It is virtually unthinkable that the side could get past the current holders of the Champions League. It is equally difficult to imagine Chelsea finishing in the top six, let alone competing for a top-four spot.

Lampard’s appointment further highlights the mess that the Blues are in compared to their third-place finish last season.



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