Chelsea’s building one of England’s top squads, but the Blues’ way of going about putting together this team is reminiscent of Pep Guardiola’s side.
In the Premier League these days, clubs are trying to catch both Manchester City and Liverpool. These two top sides went about building their teams in different ways, but achieved success nonetheless. As Chelsea looks to complete its squad with some summer acquisitions, the Blues’ build looks strangely similar to that of Pep Guardiola’s City team.
The most glaring similarity between the two sides is their managers. Both Frank Lampard and Pep Guardiola had distinguished playing careers, which undoubtedly helped them transition to the managerial side of things. From the man management to learning the tactics, Lampard and Guardiola benefitted from playing at the elite level of European football.
Guardiola’s success as a manager thus far speaks for itself. On the other hand, Lampard’s shown early signs of establishing himself as one of England’s finest gaffers. Guiding Chelsea to a top four spot given the circumstances is no easy feat; especially considering the young manager outclassed coaches like Jose Mourinho on his way to getting the Blues there.
Further, Lampard’s tactics are somewhat reminiscent of Guardiola’s. Nothing is set in stone seeing as the English manager is only in his second year, but early on, Lampard’s attacking style takes a page out of Guardiola’s book.
He’s had to stray from his preferred tactics sometimes during his stint at Chelsea. However, at Derby, spectators saw Lampard’s base tactics in their infant stages. His 4-3-3 was often compared to Guardiola’s tiki-taka style of play, as Lampard used a series of triangular passes to build up play. Lampard’s attacking, possession-based style at its core is a mix of Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti’s offensive minds, but he’s not afraid to dispatch what he learned under Mourinho either.
While Lampard has developed some of his younger players throughout his two years as a manager—specifically Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori—he’s turned to the checkbook of Roman Abramovich to compliment his young stars. Guardiola has done much of the same at Manchester City. When he arrived in 2016/17, he spent a season assessing the talent at his disposal and bringing in his players. He was played chess while the rest of the league—aside from Jurgen Klopp—was playing checkers.
City finished third that season, a sizable 15 points behind the Blues, who won the league under Antonio Conte. However, there was no pressure on Guardiola to compete for the title as the owners bought into his vision. The same goes for Lampard this season. Nobody realistically expected Chelsea to contend this season, many ruled them out as top four challengers. However, the board bought into the long-term vision of success Lampard preached.
Now, Lampard is utilizing the transfer market to construct a club that will likely contend year in and year out, much like Guardiola’s City. Look no further than the acquisitions of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner to see that. Chelsea’s pursuit of players like Kai Havertz and Said Benrahma show the Blues understand what it takes to win at the elite levels of English football—depth. Nowadays, the gap may be larger than it was for the Spaniard a few years ago, but Lampard is quickly closing in.
Chelsea and City dominated the last decade in the Premier League, so it’s only natural the two sides mirror one another’s build for the future and have similar managerial styles. Lampard surely looks up to Guardiola, but could he be referred to as the English version of him when this topic is revisited in a few years’ time? It’s certainly looking like it. The Blues have the squad, they have the style, all they’re missing is the success.