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No signings are better than bad signings, but...

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Lampard happy to avoid knee-jerk signings, not happy to lose more transfer ground to chasing pack

Chelsea Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Frank Lampard had a lot to say once it became obvious that Chelsea weren’t going to sign anyone this January, let alone the help in attack that he had been requesting, and a lot of those quotes will probably be played up for sensational headlines, angry comments, and maybe even hints of palpable discord — Chelsea manager screwed over by the evil Chelsea board / [choose your villain of choice] once again!

BUT

a) transfers are never straightforward, and that goes double for January
b) the rest of the current top four did not strengthen either (those below did however!)
c) if swapping Olivier Giroud out for a “better” backup forward was all that was missing, we’re either truly [FUNNED], or we’ll be just fine

Above all, repeating the mistakes of the past would not have been a preferred outcome either.

Perhaps that’s a false choice — our only two options shouldn’t be to not sign anyone or waste money on poor signings, but that’s our reality at the moment. And Lampard knows that as well as anyone.

“I don’t think any knee-jerk reaction from myself or from the club would have been positive either. If you are not going to improve and it’s late like that, I don’t even want to listen to that. I want to work to a longer-term plan and have trust in that.

“Now if you look at the history of clubs, and this club, there are lots of players who moved in that last moment and it didn’t work out and maybe they are on loan, or maybe they are sat in the squad three years later and not playing. And that’s not what I want.

”I want everyone here to absolutely be able to put a shift in and be a positive for the squad. So yes, I wouldn’t want that knee-jerk reaction late signing, if it’s not better than what we have got, for sure.”

Obviously, what “should” be happening is Chelsea not leaving things late by making smart money moves, while clearing out the deadwood, promoting the youth, and adding key and clear upgrades through the transfer market. We should be proactive, rather than reactive, which seems to have become the club’s main way of conducting business. It’s those sorts of qualities that separate the winners from the losers in the market, and, in turn, on the football pitch.

There are some promising signs in that regard — the contracts handed out to the youth around whom we’re now building, for example — but as this month has shown once again, we’ve got a long ways to go yet. Michael Emenalo may have had his critics and his fair share of bad calls, but while he was Technical Director, we at least seemed to have a plan (at least until we ripped up that plan, re-appointed Mourinho ... but I digress).

Perhaps Petr Čech will grow into that beyond-advisory role in the next few years as he learns the ropes. Until then, we’re going to have to hope that those on the pitch can make similar strides forward as well, to keep Chelsea ahead of the gathering horde below us in the table pushing even harder for a top-four spot.

“If I’m looking at it with my business head on and looking around us in the table and I look at Manchester United obviously signing a big, big player, a world-class player, in my opinion. The teams around us, Sheffield United making fantastic signings, Chris Wilder’s job is incredible because he’s had years to work that group and now they’re adding where he sees fit.

”Tottenham have signed a few and they’re not far behind us. And not only have they signed a few, but a couple of players have left were obviously – not being too crude about it – the situation was they were towards the end of their contracts and maybe weren’t happy being at the club any more. Sometimes that’s as important as bringing players in. It’s changing the feeling of the group if players are not wanting to be there so that’s obviously smart business on that part.

”Now what remains to be seen will be seen and from my view — and this is not to talk down ourselves because we’re six points clear in fourth — now we become probably the underdogs and the outsiders to some point because the teams around us have strengthened. It’s a fact.”

-Frank Lampard; source: Goal

Whether Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo at Manchester united, Gedson Fernandes and Steven Bergwijn at Spurs, Cedric or Pablo Mari at Arsenal, or any of the number of players Sheffield United and Wolves signed will make a telling difference remains to be seen. Despite the transfer fees involved, there are never any guarantees.

We’ll just have to take care of our own business, first on the pitch, and in a few months, back on the hellscape battlefield of the transfer market once again.