Frank Lampard will feel he has managed 3 seasons in his first 4 months in charge at Chelsea

The Chelsea players may not have realised it yet but if their manager Frank Lampard’s hair goes grey before the end of the season they would have contributed to it.

In some ways Chelsea’s poor start to the league campaign which in fact only lasted one month made perfect sense. Lampard is young very inexperienced and the club had a summer transfer ban on players not to mention they had just lost Eden Hazard to Real Madrid. Let’s face it Chelsea could have finished 8th this season and the board would not have blinked, Lampard a club legend always had a pass in his debut manager season for the Blues.

For once under performing was of no great concern, just get enough points on the board and some deep cup runs, and go with the flow. But this young Chelsea team didn’t read the script and instead went on a blazing run, winning games, beating teams and scoring lots of goals. They settled into 4th place very nicely and it was at that point that the club started to lose games. Chelsea have made keeping 4th place much harder work than it ever should have been. True they currently have a 4 point lead to 5th but at one point that was 9.

One of the biggest surprises for Chelsea is that they are actually performing better away from home, only just but it’s still a surprise. We can cast our minds back to when Lampard was a Chelsea player and the club had such a proud home record once going 4 years at Stamford Bridge without losing a game. Now the club seem fair game against anyone. If you lose to Liverpool here it can happen but getting beaten by Bournemouth and Southampton shouldn’t be an option at home for a top 4 side but that is what has happened this season.

It must seem odd to Lampard that his side can lose so many games at home to bottom half table teams and yet in the last few weeks record wins against Tottenham and Arsenal both away for added measure. For this Chelsea could be seen as the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde team.  You just don’t know what is going to happen next and what team will turn up.

So because Chelsea have shown the board what they can do there has ended being way more pressure on Lampard than there should be. This team has proven after 20 games that they are good enough for the top 4. Drop out of that now and whilst his job won’t be under threat there will be a sense of disappointment.

The likes of Tottenham, Manchester United and perhaps Sheffield United and Wolves will have their say and try to make life harder for the Blues. With the top 3 looking like it be wrapped up by Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester that leaves a mad dash for 4th, who will get it is anyone’s guess, but Lampard will be determined not to give it up now, even if his hair does go grey.

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The heat is on for Wobbling Chelsea who could give up 4th place

It wasn’t long ago that Chelsea had made a statement in the Premier League and risen into the top 4. The objective at that point was simple: Frank Lampard’s team were going to finish in a Champions League position. As the weeks rolled on Chelsea opened up an 8 point gap on 5th place and whilst finishing higher than 4th didn’t really look on the cards, 4th was the position the Blues would have accepted after a summer that saw a transfer ban, Eden Hazard sold to Real Madrid and Lampard stepping into his first top flight managerial position.

In fact Chelsea had not started the season well but that was to be expected as they kept dropping points to teams they would have usually beaten and of course it all started in nightmare fashion when the club conceded 4 goals on the opening weekend to Manchester United. Many who bet on sports, particularly football, would have not expected Chelsea to finish in the top 4 following that devastating loss to United. In fact, most sports betting sites would have had odds which hinted that Chelsea were not a side expected to finish inside the top 4 in England earlier in the season.

But bolstered by their form in the Champions League, Chelsea ventured on and started to put a nice run of winning games together. Headed by youth in the form of Tammy Abraham the club have looked irresistible. Look at some of the results Chelsea have already pulled off this season; beating Wolves 5-2, Burnley 4-2 and Southampton 4-1. Not only were Chelsea winning games they were scoring goals for fun. They did lose against Manchester City and Liverpool but both of those games were incredibly close and they lost by the same score line of 2-1 on both occasions.

The problem for Chelsea now is that they are in a blip of sorts. True they beat Lille in the Champions League just yesterday and have qualified for the knock out stages, that is a massive tick right there. However their recent form in the league has suffered where they have lost 3 of their last four games. Defeats against Everton, Manchester City and West Ham have not helped their cause and the club have seen their points gap greatly reduced. They are still 4th with 29 points but Manchester United’s form has really picked up and the Red Devils are just 5 points behind Lampard’s team.

Chelsea have some difficult games coming up including away matches to Tottenham and Arsenal and those London derbies could take their toll. It will be interesting to see Lampard come up against former mentor Jose Mourinho in the Tottenham game but it is clear that Lampard will have nothing but respect for the Portuguese man who carved out such a brilliant trophy laden career for him.

If Chelsea do crack and finish outside of the top 4 there will be disappointment no doubt in the Chelsea ranks but at the same time this was always going to be a season where Lampard would get a ‘pass’, and rightly so. Next season and beyond is where he will be judged. So far this season Chelsea are doing well under Lampard’s guidance and to be fair there isn’t really much to complain about, though one suspects the pressure is growing for Lampard himself as he sees the gap to 5th cut by every passing week. Chelsea will play at home to Bournemouth at the weekend and they should have enough in the tank to beat them. Slip up again and 4th will be in real danger.

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Manchester United and Chelsea have started the Premier League campaign in shocking fashion

The start of the 2019/20 Premier League season is almost a month underway and the early signs are not good for two giants of English football in Manchester United and Chelsea. Both teams have got off to poor starts, even if they have lost just 1 game so far this season.

The nature in how the clubs are struggling to get results is clearly evident. Manchester United’s only win this season has been ironically against Chelsea. The score line was impressive, a 4-0 win which suggested that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had turned a corner with the Red Devils- not so. Since then United have churned out results which only mirror the clubs problems since Sir Alex Ferguson called it a day in 2013.

Look at the evidence. In the teams next game they went to Wolves and couldn’t win. A 1-1 draw was the only score they could get, and yet they had been leading that game and were pegged back. In their next match at home to Crystal Palace, United were massive favourites to win the match. Palace had started average and it seemed that United would win and win big. But they found themselves 1-0 down and heading for defeat. Daniel James who has been impressive with United in his debut season looked to have secured a draw with his goal in the last minute and even then United could not hold on as Palace found another to win. Already they had faced defeat at Old Trafford this season.

This past weekend United had to travel to Southampton, another game where you would expect 3 points, instead they took the lead and were then pegged back as the game finished 1-1. There is a lot of thinking and soul searching to do at United and it doesn’t look like it will get any better soon. The Europa League will be taxing on the current line up, and if United are struggling against mid table teams now, how will they cope when they have to play games every other Thursday in Europe?

As for Chelsea, they have won just once this season also. The 4-0 loss at Manchester United could be excused if only because the Blues played some good football and the final score was flattering on the home side. But something is missing at Chelsea, and it could be that they have the wrong manager in charge.

Frank Lampard will be a good manager just like he was such a terrific player. The problem is he has next to no experience, just one season with Derby in the Championship, that is a massive step up to Chelsea. The question that needs to be posed is, would Chelsea have gone looking for the manager of Derby had it not been Lampard, an ex-Chelsea playing legend? And there is your answer. Still one cannot blame Lampard for accepting the job, rare is it to see a British manager in charge of one of the big 4 teams in the Premier League. He took his chance because he knew it could be the only one he will ever get.

Chelsea like United have played some good football but it is a results game and both are failing. Chelsea only just managed their one win so far against Norwich in a 3-2 victory. But they were pegged back by both Leicester and Sheffield United and these games were at home.

Both clubs should have bright moments during the season, but they wil also have plenty of games where they will keep under achieving. One of these managers could be losing their job this season too, which on this evidence wouldn’t be a surprise.

The hard luck story for fans is that it is going to get worse before it gets better and there is a genuine chance now that neither club will finish in the top 4.

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How will Chelsea’s Transfer Ban affect their Season?

Chelsea might have finished third in the Premier League last season, picking up European honors along the way, but it was far from a success in the eyes of some supporters.

27 points separated them and second-placed Liverpool, meaning manager Maurizio Sarri’s first ever trophy wasn’t enough to keep him in a job. They’ve turned to Frank Lampard- from Derby County- who is a Blues legend following his success on the field with the club.

If he wants to be the same off the field, he has a huge job. The BBC reported how they failed to overturn a two-window transfer ban, effectively condemning them to pretty much the same squad this season as the last one. Couple that with Eden Hazard’s departure for a fee believed to be around $108m, and they’re arguably weaker than last season.

Can they still be a success, despite the obvious obstacles they face? Or will they continue in the pattern of the last couple of years?

There are plenty of positives; one of Sarri’s main faults was his reluctance to hand first team experience to Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The latter won’t be able to help for much of this season, as he ruptured his Achilles tendon in a friendly and won’t be back until at least November, according to Football London.

However, there is plenty of youth waiting to impress this season and are expected to get the chance due to the ban on incoming players. Tammy Abraham has impressed in loan spells with Bristol City and Aston Villa, with his time at Villa Park last season a raging success. His goals have been credited with firing them back to the Premier League and he looks ready to take on the top flight.

Lampard will be expected to attack much more than Sarri and Conte before him, which might be a big ask without one key man.

They’ll miss Hazard’s creativity, but in Mason Mount they might have a home-grown alternative who can break through as well. He was on loan with Derby last season and had a whole year to impress his new manager.

He even earned an England call-up from Gareth Southgate whilst in the Championship. Southgate has a good eye for spotting young talent; in Coral’s guide to last year’s World Cup managers, they note how he had three years of experience with the Under 21s before becoming England manager.

If Lampard shows belief in promoting players from Under 21 to senior football, he could be rewarded. Mount is much like Lampard was as a player; how the Blues could do with him to have the same input.

They will also be able to call on 20-year-old United States international Christian Pulisic, who was bought from Dortmund in January and loaned back for the rest of the season. He’s a new face, something different to add to the squad. He’s a winger who will likely be Hazard’s replacement, although he’s got a lot to prove at such a tender age.

Chelsea of 2019/20 will be youthful; they’ll be fighting against the odds and playing the underdog. In truth, they could be about to reap the rewards of their previous policy of loaning out lots of their players.

There isn’t a good reason why they can’t be back in the top three come May, not with the collection of talent they’ve amassed over the last couple of seasons.

Wayne Rooney has made a good choice to join Derby but has not treated DC United fairly

Wayne Rooney has always said that he wanted to start coaching once his career was coming to an end and the latest news is that he will become a player/coach for Derby County in England’s Championship.

But how does that leave DC United, Rooney’s current team in the MLS?

The choice that Rooney has made is good for him and in some ways understandable but at the same time it does leave a question of loyalty to his American club. Rooney has made a fantastic impact in the MLS, Where DC United have gone from being near the bottom of their conference to mixing with the top teams, they will make the final play-offs this season as they also try and win their conference. On top of that Rooney has been amazing on and off the field. Scoring brilliant goals, linking up well with the team, being influential in the dressing room and the fans have absolutely loved him. Had he stayed it could be argued that he would have made a much bigger impact on American soccer than even David Beckham.

Rooney had signed a 3 year contract with DC United and that is set to be terminated after 18 months. Just half his time, and yes there is a question of what do contracts actually mean?

Of course there are two sides to Rooney’s switch. The first is that the move should be good for him. He obviously wants to coach and that is going to start in his home country England. Derby has been a good starting point, after all it worked for Frank Lampard who stayed just a season before getting the high profile job at Chelsea. Rooney will learn from current manager Phillip Cocu and will also play for the club possibly for six months, maybe a season and a half.

Still with Rooney’s career and time on his side from a coaching perspective ahead, DC United have the right to feel aggrieved about his decision. They haven’t said anything at this point, but he was so popular with the club and fans, that they thought he would be around until at least the summer of 2021. Instead Rooney will leave at the end of the year. That is something because at least he will be playing for them when the crucial play-offs come up. Had he left now, it would have been very wrong.

Rooney has made a good choice, but his swift decision is still evidence that footballers seemingly live on a very different planet to the rest of us, where sadly some of the loyalty and passion and a further bridging gap between fans and players has developed.

Frank Lampard’s best eleven at Chelsea

Chelsea’s two-window transfer ban certainly makes things interesting for the start of Frank Lampard’s era at the club.

The former club-legend midfielder arrived this summer from Derby County, taking charge instead of the outgoing Maurizio Sarri who returned to his beloved Serie A, replacing Max Allegri at Juventus.

Lampard will have to rely on what talent is already at Stamford Bridge until next summer at least.

So, what is Lampard’s strongest eleven from the players available to him? The Blues lost Eden Hazard to Real Madrid this summer so it really does feel like the dawn of a new era at the club. Continue reading

Lampard to usher in new era at Chelsea

It’s a new dawn at Chelsea FC this summer.

Frank Lampard has returned to Stamford Bridge, the ground he once ruled over as one of the best goalscoring midfielders in the Premier League.

This time, Lampard is replacing Maurizio Sarri as the club’s head coach. Sarri, despite a relatively successful season at Chelsea, was glad to get the opportunity to return to Serie A, taking over Max Allegri’s mantle at league champions Juventus.

Lampard, arriving from his stint at Derby County where he led the Rams to a promotional playoff spot, knows that he will have to play the hand he has been dealt at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea are currently limited by a new player registration ban. Continue reading

Appointing Frank Lampard would be a risk for Chelsea despite his legendary status

In the end, the decision was taken out of Chelsea’s hands. Maurizio Sarri’s future looked uncertain throughout the second half of last season, but a third-place finish in the Premier League and a Europa League triumph made it difficult for the club’s hierarchy to fire the Italian – even if they were still unsure whether he was the right man to lead them into the 2019/20 campaign.

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Sarri out, Lampard in but could this be a huge mistake for Chelsea?

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And so it was confirmed over the weekend that Maurizio Sarri has left Chelsea and took the reigns at Italian champions Juventus after just one season. And the favourite a 1/20 bet to take over is Frank Lampard, but could this be a huge mistake from the Europa League cup winners?

Giving Lampard the job actually makes no sense at all, but this isn’t to discredit him in anyway. Lampard is an intelligent person, was a wonderful football player, knows the game inside out and knows how to win as a player. But surely the key factor here is that he used to play for Chelsea and is rightly regarded as a club legend. So with that knowledge, are we to believe that the only reason Lampard looks set for the job at Stamford Bridge is because he is a club legend and ex player. It does seem so.

Sarri was never liked at the club and it is no surprise that he packed his bags. This is unfortunate, he was obviously a good coach for the Blues, winning the Europa League in his debut season, finishing 3rd, losing 2 games at home all season and reaching the Carabao Cup final. Fans complained of his tactics and always selecting Jorginho, who for them was underperforming but always got the chance to play. Scapegoating comes to mind and perhaps Sarri was right to leave after a year if he felt no love.

Lampard will be warmly welcomed there is no doubt about that and everyone will want him to do well. But the fact is that he has just one professional season under his belt and that was in the Championship with Derby. He had some highs with the club reaching the play-off finals but they did not win it and in the league they finished 6th, just like they had the previous season without Lampard.

Perhaps this is all in the timing and no one is suggesting that Lampard is not good enough to coach Chelsea. But he will have a hard ask on his hands. Eden Hazard by far the clubs best player has left for Real Madrid and the club face a two window transfer ban. This could be reduced to one window on appeal but if it is it is still likely to be this summers one that is affected.

It is thought that Lampard has struck a deal where what ever happens he will be in the job for at least 2 years. This seems like fantasy, and if Chelsea have a nightmare first season under him, he could be fired and a bright promising career in management could fizzle out at least if Lampard has dreams of coaching the bigger teams.

Of course one can think back to another club legend taking the coach’s job just a few months ago, that was Thierry Henry at Monaco, and look how that ended, sacked after three months and replaced with the man he had taken the job from.

At the same time look at this from his point of view- he loves Chelsea and if they have come calling for him, that will be too hard to refuse. At the same time does he really want to spend another season in the Championship when he could be in charge of a Premier League club who are also in the Champions League? Of course not, and so unless there are any last minute hitches this will happen and he should be wished good luck.

 

 

World Cup 2018: Kane, Sterling and Rashford vying to end England’s 52 years of hurt

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Another major tournament rolls around, and the hopes and dreams of England fans across the world once again dare to ignite in the name of hope and desire. England, who couldn’t play football – they had it in the bag 52 years ago, but to be fair they have struggled to get anywhere near replicating the glory days of 1966 since then. They may have managed to get to a few quarter-finals in World Cups – and indeed that seems to now be the benchmark for a decent tournament – but they haven’t got to within touching distance of the final in the intervening years. Following on from last week’s look at Argentina’s chances this summer, it is now time to take a look at just how Gareth Southgate’s men could fare in Russia.

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