Chelsea legend John Terry has joined the legion of other Chelsea legends in giving his blessing to the return of Chelsea legend Frank Lampard to Chelsea. Of course, JT and Super Frank were always a friendly duo on and off the pitch, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that whatever Terry has to say is purely motivated by friendship and shared footballing glories.
In fact, JT believes this isn’t just your every day garden variety ex-player-turning-manager appointment. This is, in fact, the perfect time for Lampard to return, which is something that slowly has entered the overall narrative as well thanks to the transfer ban, the renewed emphasis on youth, Eden Hazard’s departure, and the supposed long leash that Abramovich is willing to put on the new manager.
“It is perfect timing for him and the club.
“Frank was under pressure to succeed at Chelsea the day he arrived from West Ham and he never hid from that. He revelled in it and went on to become Chelsea’s greatest-ever player.
“What made him that player was his desire to drain every ounce out of his body and that of everyone around him in training. Then, when he was done, he’d go out and practise free-kicks and shooting on his own for another half hour. People would be amazed at his goal return but they just didn’t realise how much dedication was put into that and his whole game. He is just as exacting on himself now as a manager.”
Terry got to witness Lampard up close and personal as a player for 13 years. For most of last season, he also got to see Lampard as a manager, as they shared a division and even faced each other in the Championship promotion playoff final. Lampard’s Derby County may have lost to Aston Villa (where JT is an assistant coach) then, but Terry was suitably impressed by Lampard’s work with the Rams, especially when it came to working with younger players.
JT, as the last and only Chelsea prospect to actually become a big player for the first-team in the last two decades, has always been a big proponent of nurturing the Academy’s talent, and hopes Lampard (and of course Jody Morris) will follow through on similar aims going forward. At minimum, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Andreas Christensen, and Callum Hudson-Odoi should be expected to continue their development and progression.
“After the season he has had with Derby and with Chelsea’s transfer ban in place, there is no-one better equipped than Frank to succeed at Chelsea.
“You could see by the improvements made by Mason Mount at Derby last season that Frank will have an impact on young players and improve them. For some time, perhaps only myself and Ruben Loftus-Cheek had come through the academy to become regulars and that has probably left many young players questioning their future. Callum Hudson-Odoi will be assured he has a big role to play at Chelsea.
“Having Frank in charge and the transfer ban will give young players throughout the academy belief that there is a genuine pathway into Chelsea’s first team. Frank and Jody have tremendous knowledge of the youth set-up. I guarantee they will watch as many Under-23 and Under-18 matches at Chelsea as possible and open potential opportunities for the academy players. In fact I think it will be an exciting time to see what can happen.”
Recent reports that Abramovich will be more lenient have been taken as a lack of ambition from the club, but making it clear that Lampard will be given time (as long as he avoids relegation) is not the same as aiming just to avoid relegation. Chelsea will undoubtedly aim higher — top six, Europe, etc. — but with the understanding that we find ourselves in the middle of very unique and special circumstances. Some common sense will need to be applied, though as JT makes it clear, he does not expect Lampard to settle for mediocrity.
And if Lampard can imbue some of the determination, fearlessness, work ethic, and winning attitude that defined his career, we just might be fine. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, as they say.
“Frank has always been a great communicator. In the dressing room we would have Didier Drogba or Michael Ballack or Petr Cech – they may have been big voices but they would listen to Frank. He would have this calm demeanour and way of delivering a message that would empower you and I’m positive he will have the same effect on these Chelsea players, whether young or older.
“Sure, Chelsea have just lost one of the best players in the world in Eden Hazard; Liverpool and Manchester City have spent well but Frank will still inherit a talented squad and that will only be stronger for integrating some of the players who did well out on loan last season.”
-John Terry; source: Mail
Terry may be the lone legend out of the Chelsea reunion, but here’s hoping that he’s an excellent predictor of our Lampardian future.