Chelsea’s inability to hold leads was put into stark relief once again over the weekend, with the Blues giving up a 2-0 as well as a 3-2 advantage to drop two frustrating points at home against Southampton.
But as bad as some of the goals given up were — “individual errors”, but that’s a story for another day — the team’s lack of composure overall has been an issue for a while now. Last season, we chalked it up to youth and relative inexperience, but those excuses, like most cliched excuses, are starting to wear thin. And not just on us, but on those who are trying to get the team to be better.
“What I am concerned with is game management and, in the game, the players have to gauge that on the pitch, it is part of what being a top player at Chelsea is about.
“Absolutely, it is the players’ choice. If there is a moment where the players have to see out a game, then we have to do that on the pitch and it isn’t about communication from that point at all.”
Lampard’s obviously frustrated. He cannot be out there; he’s stuck in his technical area. But it’s his responsibility to pick the players, and his responsibility to get the players to execute his instructions — that’s the nature of the job.
Clearly, we have some ways to go in that regard.
“I certainly didn’t want to play brave football in the last moments of the game. That was my message to them, that I wanted them to go longer and break the press. I don’t think the players did that enough.
“We tried to play too much and some of that is ingrained in the players that they want to try and play football. That’s certainly something I am not a big advocate of with high pressure, as something you can do is miss out the pressure to get the ball high up the pitch and use the players at the other end of the pitch. That was probably my biggest disappointment that the players didn’t put into action.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Goal
Presumably, such improvements will come with more training, more experience, and more time — but time is not something we have in abundance. And if history is any indication, time runs out quickly for those who don’t improve fast enough, be they players or coaches.
“We generally have younger players so it’s important we try and make sure we learn any lessons as we go because the Champions League is so cut-throat. You have to have absolute focus because of the level of teams you’re playing, and particularly as we start against Sevilla.”
Our European journey ended at the hands on Bayern Munich last season, who then continued to dominate their way to the Big Ears trophy. Sevilla are not quite on that level, but they won the Europa League and will certainly provide a challenge and the latest litmus test for whether we’ve made any measurable improvements.
“The Champions League [is] the top club competition in world football. [The players] will be better for it; they will want to improve this year in that. We will see how much they have learned.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
We will see indeed.