Frank Lampard’s first season as Chelsea manager is wildly successful in every sense of the phrase, given the circumstances. However, his greatest accomplishment may end up being off the pitch.
There are no ifs, ands or buts about it: Frank Lampard is a serial winner. So, when he walked into one of the toughest situations in European top-flight football, there was no question he was the right man for the Chelsea managerial job. The second-year manager inherited a team with a transfer ban and a fractured fan base. Further, the Blues were trying to cope with the loss of their best player. Lampard has the Blues in position to play Champions League football next season despite these obstacles. However, his biggest accomplishment is the culture he’s created at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard had to play peacemaker after walking into a situation where the club had fallen out of favor with its fans and the manager had lost the locker room. He’s done an excellent job cleaning up the mess Maurizio Sarri left behind. It’d be ignorant to suggest part of that wasn’t due to the fact that he’s the greatest player in club history, but it’d be equally as moronic to imply that’s the only reason. Lampard—with his passionate attitude—has built the framework for Chelsea to sustain a winning culture for the foreseeable future.
To see Lampard’s winning culture already taking form, look no further than when Tammy Abraham embraced his gaffer following his first goal of the season. Lampard believes in the players and vice versa. Unlike previous years, rumors have seldom circulated regarding a falling out between a Chelsea player and the manager. Lampard’s getting the best out of each of his men and he’s doing it with class. The players are buying into everything the young manager is preaching.
Further, the way Lampard has handled the youth situation is top class. Integrating as many youth players as Chelsea has is no easy task. The youth players have played an integral role in the success of the Blues this season, that’s largely due to Lampard and his staff. The situational awareness of when and where to fit in younger players is the most impressive part of the season thus far. But the production Lampard gets out of guys like Abraham, Mason Mount and Reece James is not to be overlooked either.
The 41-year-old looks like a seasoned veteran with the way he handles the press and player scrutiny. Kepa Arrizabalaga proved difficult for even the stingiest, most experienced manager in Sarri, but when it came time to assert himself as the leader of the club, Lampard put the young keeper in his place. Lampard believes no individual is bigger than the club and that’s the way it should be.
Another impressive part of Lampard’s time as Chelsea gaffer thus far is his dedication. To say Chelsea means the world to the manager is an understatement. Lampard has a vision to return the Blues to the glory of his playing days and he’ll stop at nothing to achieve that.
From his passion on the touchline to calling a transfer target almost every day to ensure his arrival at Stamford Bridge, there is nothing Lampard wouldn’t do for his club. This has helped earn the respect of his players, the fans and even the club’s front office—which consists of many of Lampard’s former teammates. Everybody at the club—from Roman Abramovich down to essential match day personnel—bleeds blue and Lampard’s dedication drives that passion.
The most underrated aspect of the job Lampard has done is the impact he’s had on the fans. Obviously, Blues fans were thrilled when a club legend was appointed manager. That being said, Chelsea fans are some of the most relentless and demanding on the planet.
Even through a roller coaster ride of a season, the fans have never stopped showing their support. The club, the players and its fans are 100 percent behind Lampard in anything he does. He took one of the most fractured fanbases in world football and reinvigorated them. No top-level football team can be world class without some of the best fans around. Luckily, Lampard’s got the Bridge buzzing for the young Blues.
Lampard is doing all of the little things right in his first season. Rome wasn’t built in a day. If Super Frank is given time, he can bring the long-term success to Chelsea, something fans have been yearning for since his playing days.