The story of Lampard’s return to coach his beloved Blues has never been in so much disarray! He’s had good times and bad times, but this looks like the worst of it!
Mind you, this is the same coach that was applauded for guiding a transfer-banned Chelsea side to a top-four finish.
In what seems like an attempt to recover what was lost in previous transfer windows, Chelsea spent over £200 million in bringing star players to the club.
It was also an attempt to gift Lampard a squad with which he can begin the quest to build a football dynasty just like Liverpool’s or Man City’s.
That quest seems to have suffered significant backdrops as Chelsea are in the midst of their worst run of poor form yet under Frank Lampard. Things definitely need to improve in order for him to avoid the sack!
How Good Is Lampard In Coaching
Coaching a top professional football team is by no means an easy task. It is a daunting task, one that requires so much time and effort to be put into it to be successful.
A coach has a huge say in and from training ground drills to fitness drills to positional movements to set pieces to players motivation to even to who starts and lots more.
Little wonder why top coaches these days are highly paid.
Lampard’s qualifications have always been brought up especially whenever Chelsea begins to have sub-par displays.
Many question his qualifications for the job on the basis that he doesn’t have many years of experience at the top level of coaching.
Some question his general tactics as a manager especially with his team selections, roles assigned to different players, and substitutions.
Lampard is no doubt a world-class player back in his playing days. You can tell he loves the English style of game more than any other. He was a midfield maestro, one of the best to ever grace the English game.
But being a top coach isn’t the same thing as being a top player. It is much more difficult and sophisticated.
How Do Lampard’s Teams Play
Lampard’s teams (Derby County and Chelsea 2019/20) generally play a very attractive attacking game. One that generally doesn’t have the best of defenses, but is more than likely to outscore their opponents.
Lampard’s teams no matter the formation play with a high tempo. He loves having attacking fullbacks. Lampard generally turns to his attacking Fullbacks to pump in crosses.
He likes his players making runs. His teams generally fit the description of a modern football team, at least on the outside(a mobile, fast team).
Lampard isn’t the coach to pack the bus unless the situation demands it. These situations are rare though.
What Lampard Needs To Improve On
There are about 4 things that I have noted that Lampard should improve on if in order for him to successfully rebuild Chelsea.
1. Higher Tactical Organization
One thing has become a norm under Frank and that’s the fact that Chelsea isn’t tactically astute. His team survives all too much on individual brilliance.
It is criminal to state that a coach doesn’t give his team tactical and positional moves. But, the case here is that Lampard’s are a bit all too simple for the level required at the very top level in recent times.
His teams generally suffer when opponents have a coordinated pressing system.
His teams also lack a good pressing system. They haven’t got the multi-layered press traps that are becoming the norm.
2. Finding A Better Football Philosophy
He changes his formation like clothes. Throughout last season, Lampard deployed at least 3 different formations. Want a shocker? He didn’t have anyone he would call his favorite. All of them were ditched at one time or another.
Against Everton, he deployed 4-2-3-1 then 4-3-3 in the Return leg.
When playing against Man United, he played 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, 3-4-3 throughout last season.
Against Arsenal, he played 3-4-3, 4-3-3, and so on. It goes on and on.
As soon as any formation begins to yield bad results he changes to a new one.
At the beginning of this season, he probably tried all the formations in his football storybook once more in the search for the perfect one.
And he finally settled for a 4-3-3 system, at least for now!
Do you get the point now? Lampard changes the system according to what his team presently is using to get results and also against specific opponents.
While being unpredictable is not a bad coaching tactic, not having a trusted system is!
These changes also affect the player’s ability to adapt and contribute maximally. Teams with the best team understanding and moves(defensively and offensively) are generally the best teams. Playing together regularly is what grows this understanding.
No formation is perfect but some formations are better than others. Each formation has its strengths and weaknesses. It is the job of the manager to exploit the strengths of the formation his team fits better in and at the same time, masking the weaknesses of the formation.
Presently, the 4-3-3 formation has brought success especially against the so-called “small teams”
3. Organizing Better Team Attacking Moves
All possession-based teams are as good as their programmed attacking moves and their ability to lead to clear goal-scoring chances whether against a big team or a small team.
He seems to lack the required knowledge especially about programming his team’s attack. Other world-class managers like Klopp, Guardiola, Ancelotti, Allegri, Flick, etc have always had their team’s attack in a coordinated and planned pattern.
Another issue that comes to mind is his inability to bring out the best of his forwards consistently (Werner, Giroud, Abraham…), albeit due to the lack of a carefully constructed attacking pattern.
Having an attack that always improvises is refreshing to watch but at some point, they are just going to run out of ideas. On off days as well, they won’t have a backup plan to rely on.
The stat that says that Chelsea are poor against the big boys isn’t just a stat, it is something that can be seen or probably felt when you watch Chelsea play.
Lampard’s Chelsea is probably at their best when they are allowed to play their football against an opponent more concerned about not conceding than about scoring themselves.
4. Making Better In-Game Changes
Making correct in-game changes and substitutions is a highly underappreciated quality that a select few managers have. Though, that seems to come or improve with experience too. It often distinguishes the top managers from the good ones.
These things are things that Frank Lampard doesn’t possess, at least not in abundance. Now, when that begins to sink in, you begin to question Lampard’s ability to lead this group of talented players to build a football dynasty.
A Classic Example
The Chelsea vs Man City EPL match on 3rd January 2021 left much to be desired from Coach Frank Lampard. A weakened Man City within 35 first-half minutes brushed Chelsea to the side. Chelsea was utterly stunned, 3-0 at Stamford Bridge and yet at half-time, after sending the whole bench to warm up, there were little to no noticeable changes made at least tactically by the manager.
The big tactical changes and substitutions came late in the game. What does it show? It either shows a manager who is afraid of what his supposedly better opponent had in store. Or it shows a manager that isn’t ready to take quick albeit risky decisions to salvage his team from losing control over games.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t talking about making attacking changes. The game was almost certainly lost at half-time. We are talking about securing the team to avoid conceding more goals. My gosh, Pep could have made it six if he wanted(putting fresh attacking players earlier) and if there was better finishing from City players.
Pep’s team was still highly dangerous in the 2nd half showing that either the manager(Lampard) didn’t have a fix for the situation or that he didn’t want to do it yet. The late consolation only making the game look like a closer affair. A game which Man City won without much adue stress.
Already, Lampard has the lowest average points per game of any manager hired in the Abramovich era.
One thing is clear, Lampard is learning on the job, but for how long will a man like Abramovich be able to wait? These players are aging as well. Giving time to an apprentice never really guarantees mastery.
In probably the tightest title race season in history, drastic changes will certainly have to be made (by Lampard) or else Chelsea may have to join in the fun of playing the Europa! (irony). Am pretty sure Abramovich would feel that one.