After only a few weeks and four friendly games in charge, the esteemed legend now turned rookie manager is leaving no one in doubt about the direction is team is headed.
Few hours ago, Chelsea handed a touchy defeat to Antoine Griezmann and Barcelona to lift the Rakuten Cup into the sunny Japan skies.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 23, 2019
It was the Frenchman’s debut for the Camp Nou landlords and he enjoyed a fine first half before he was withdrawn but by that point the Londoners were in the lead.
The composed finish for the opener came off the boots of Tammy Abraham around the half hour mark after Jorginho forced a Barcelona defender into making a mistake.
All goal highlights
— Samuel ⭐️⭐️ (@owuraku_obeng) July 23, 2019
That particular moment captured the essence of Lampard’s philosophy as a manager. Playing against Barcelona, his men did not just try to park the bus and frustrate their opponent, they actually tried to play football.
Lampard may have had the most productive period of his football career under a most conservative, ultra-defensive coach, he doesn’t seem inclined to follow that same path.
Barcelona may have shaded the possession statistics (they ended the match with 58%), but it was not a one-sided game as most Chelsea-Barca duels often entail.
The three prior games the Stamford Bridge giants have played this off-season, admittedly against weaker opposition, they have bossed with an average of 62% possession.
Against the Blaugrana, Chelsea were again aggressive and brave. Christian Pulisic looked to breeze past defenders to set up chances for others.
Mason Mount took up advanced positions behind Tammy Abraham, linked up play well and was not afraid to shoot when in sight of goal.
And by the time Tammy’s goal arrived, he should have had two already. But the young striker took his goal well enough – side stepping the experienced Marc-André ter Stergen to slot home – to ease some of the manager’s worries about a key department.
Granted that there was no Messi or Suarez for Ernesto Valverde’s side but Lampard had Kante and Rudiger unavailable too, yet there were pieces of clues all over the pitch showing that the former England international is not trying to be the next Jose Mourinho.
Frank Lampard is not trying to be the next Maurizio Sarri, either.
Ngolo Kante may still be missing in action but nothing suggests that the World Cup winner will be deployed anywhere other than the traditional role for which he shot to global prominence.
Lampard has enough personnel upfront to prosecute his dynamic 4-2-3-1 formation. Strikers Batshuayi and Giroud will give the developing Tammy a helping hand.
Kennedy, Pedro and Callum Hodson-Odoi will provide ample backup to Willian and Pulisic on the wings. While that creative spot right behind the target man could be filled by any of Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley or the highly-rated Mason Mount who, under the guidance of Lampard, scored 14 goals when on loan at Derby last term.
With these lots, there will be no over-cooked passing moves. There will be no lifeless, one-dimensional football on display. There will be no “Sarriball”.
Eden Hazard, who has since made the switch to the Santiago Bernabeu, will be missed. That is expected.
Any player with the Belgian’s unique skill-sets, who scored 21 goals in all competitions and provided another 17 assists, will create a problem with his absence.
— Los Merengues ㉟ ⓮ (@Lucifer_Madrid) July 16, 2019
But the former Lille prodigy had the added burden of being Chelsea’s go-to man, the one whose performances bail out the manager’s shortcomings but whenever he fails to provide the spark, the Blues hardly win.
Lampard is working with a different template. He’s not building a one-man team. Frank might infuse a few Mourinho’s ideas here and Sarri’s there but he is his own man.
And when the rookie manager’s team is up and running, it should be one that will scare most sides in the Premier League, and make every Chelsea fan proud.