After a long hiatus, I am finally back to writing for SoccerKakis. Since no one has been wondering, I was actually busy with school and had submissions every week. The fundamental flaw in me is this, even though I am smart, I can be a bit slow when it comes to research, which is why I take a long time to finish my assignments and had no time for writing about football. But even as my last paper ended, I took some time to recharge and celebrate Hari Raya. So enough of that, I am now going to talk about the transformation that Chelsea underwent.
Frank Lampard, the Chelsea legend, has been known for his incredible achievements as a midfielder. When he took over Chelsea, many were excited about the prospect of the Blues achieving greatness with their very own in the dugout. Beginning his managerial stint at Derby County, Lampard’s Rams played some intense and attractive football. The Rams even knocked Manchester United out of the third round of the EFL Cup, of which I am still very salty about. It didn’t stop there, as Lampard also managed to lead the club to the final of the 2018 Championship play-offs. Although Derby did not manage to win promotion back to the Premier League, Lampard eventually joined Chelsea as head coach a year later.
A few things could explain Lampard’s demise as Chelsea manager. Firstly, he did not exude an elite mentality on his players. Despite a transfer ban during his first year as Chelsea coach, he did well to guide the club to fourth in the EPL and took the Blues to the FA Cup final, where they eventually lost to Arsenal (yes, Arsenal who sit 9th as of now, in 2021, with 2 games to go). Alas, he wasn’t lambasted by the media for that loss. Instead, Abramovich spent £230m on new players. Long story short, Lampard could not bring consistency into his side despite the good start they had. He eventually lamented that Chelsea were “not ready to compete”. He also threw his players under the bus for their poor defending and even called them “lazy”. Nevertheless, this all changed when Tuchel arrived. His arrival was a breath of fresh air as he immediately turned the lacklustre Chelsea side around. His positivity and belief was crucial to get Chelsea competing again as he said that he was there “to win titles”. His mentality totally transformed Chelsea, as they look a scary side to come up against.
During Lampard’s reign this season, he used a league-high of 27 players as he tried to find the perfect mix and balance to his side. The pressure on his big-name signings did not help either, as Timo Werner and Kai Havertz were particularly struggling with their move to Stamford Bridge. Lampard’s inability to find a consistent line-up had cost Chelsea some consistency, and Kepa’s increasing liability was largely to blame for the poor games as he made many mistakes. The signing of Edouard Mendy in January could not have come at a better time for the Chelsea manager. Despite the quality signings in Mendy, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, Lampard could not get the best out of this talented group of players. Under Tuchel, Chelsea were flying, and I mean REALLY flying. Having managed Neymar, Mbappe and many more PSG stars, the German has experience in handling big names and it shows. According to Opta, Tuchel went unbeaten in all 10 away matches with Chelsea, with 8 wins and 2 draws. What is even more spectacular is the fact that they scored 14 goals and conceded just 3 goals, earning 7 clean sheets along the way. Under his tutelage, Chelsea managed to outsmart Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid in the Champion’s League as the Blues completely dominated Los Blancos. Tuchel’s preference for a 3-4-2-1 also gave the Blues much needed structure. His side has been pragmatic at times and have not always played attractive football, but it has brought results and Chelsea fans demands results. Tuchel has been adept as he structures his teams according to their strengths and weaknesses and his ability to do this in a short period of time, with no pre-season and right in the thick of the EPL and UCL is proof that he is one of the greatest tacticians in the modern game. Despite the FA Cup loss, Chelsea still has a Champion’s League final to play for. Chelsea under Tuchel is an exciting prospect and the Blue’s upcoming transfer window performance could further enhance the highly talented squad.
This could well be the case that Frank Lampard simply wasn’t ready to take on such a high profile job so early in his career, but the evidence should convince even the most ardent Lampard supporter that his managerial skills were not up to par yet. Perhaps he should have stayed at Derby and got them promoted to the EPL first and then get a managerial job in Europe for more exposure. Alas, the allure of coming back to Stamford Bridge was simply too great. I expected more from players-turned-managers but so far only one has truly impressed and that is Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Even the Pep’s disciple, Arteta, has shown a poor run of results. Arteta, however, is lucky that Stan Kroenke is patient and willing to ride out the storm, but for how long? Lampard was not so lucky with Abramovich, but with Tuchel’s appointment, the gulf in management proves that these players-turned-managers do not have the sufficient quality yet to manage in the Premier League.
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