Safe to say, Chelsea’s first game under Frank Lampard did not go according to plan. At all. And while there were passages of good play and some positive to take from the game, the final massive margin of defeat made it hard to look beyond the scoreboard.
It didn’t help that noted champion of the youth Jose Mourinho managed to influence and set the tone of the post-match coverage as a pundit better than he had been able to as a manager in the last decade, questioning Lampard’s decisions especially in terms of a youthful starting lineup — which was actually older than United’s, by average age, though not nearly as close in relevant top flight experience.
Two players especially took some heat, center forward Tammy Abraham and attacking midfielder Mason Mount, both making their full senior debuts for Chelsea at the ages of 21 and 20, respectively. Both players had excelled in the Championship last season and could be set for long and highly successful careers at the top level of the game, but at the moment, they are just young players with potential and the need for a little bit of trust and faith.
For Mourinho, that’s a political, Machiavellian play from Lampard — “buying time” — but for Lampard, that’s just what he believes. And he believes in Mason Mount, full stop.
“With Mason Mount, I don’t like to compare, particularly with myself, I can talk about him myself and he has a great work ethic and it’s important about how we want to play. Scoring goals he will step up levels as he develops, I’m a huge fan of his.”
That’s not to say that Lampard will shoot himself in the foot just to play a kid or just to prove a point. At the same time, his remit is to develop the young players while keeping up the winning tradition. Mourinho’s Chelsea could afford to buy ready-made talent and win. Lampard’s Chelsea have to go about it slightly differently.
“I pick the best team to win the game, regardless of age. Mount deserves his chance on merit. I won’t fear to play young players.”
“I will have no fears to play players because of their age. They will always have a chance. We won the ball back a lot vs. United and it was more we didn’t finish the chances we got that we lost the game.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Liverpool Echo
Lampard isn’t alone in defending the youngsters. One of Chelsea’s oldest and most decorated players, Pedro, had some lovely words of support for young Tammy Abraham, who came within inches of setting a very different tone to this whole week when his shot smacked off the woodwork instead of rippling the back of De Gea’s net.
“I know Tammy for a long time from when he was in the academy. I saw him training and on loan saw his improvement. His strength was to be in the Chelsea first team. He got a chance to be here because he deserves it. In pre-season he has worked very hard. He was very close to start very well.
“Scoring is what strikers live for. We need to keep encouraging him. At this age, the only way he will go is up. We trust in him. A Chelsea striker demands the best level, but I am confident and trust him a lot. He is a player who has a great talent, work rate and that goal could have helped for the confidence, but I really trust him.”
We just gotta have a little faith.
Maybe a little bit more than a little bit.
That won’t be a problem for a serial winner like Pedro, who only knows one answer when he sees a trophy on the line.
“It is a final, another big game for us and a trophy. It is good for the confidence as well. It will be a difficult game. They are a strong, solid team. We need to read well the game, create chances. It’s a chance to win a trophy for us.
“It is good when you win a trophy. It is my fourth final here in the Super Cup, I have won the last three but it will be a difficult game for us.
“The atmosphere in Chelsea is good, with the players. I have more ambition to win this trophy. I am happy to be in another final here. Tomorrow will be another strong game. I think the important is to have the right mentality.”
-Pedro; source: Football.London
Okay, maybe a lot of faith.