For all the years of The Roman Era, 17 and counting, Chelsea’s transfer policy and activities were almost always couched in conflict. Coach vs. Board/Owner, Coach vs. Director (of Football), Director vs. Board/Owner, and so on. The names changed — and there have been many! — but the stories stayed largely the same. Eventually, we even co-opted the phrase “palpable discord” to encompass all these behind the scenes squabbles and friction of power and influence.
And yet, that hasn’t been the case for the first twelve months of Frank Lampard’s tenure as head coach. Whether that’s due to the man himself, a Chelsea Legend of All Legends whose relationship with the owner is on unquestionably good terms, the circumstances, which first denied Chelsea the ability to operate in the transfer market then shifted the entire economic reality of the professional game in our favor, or the changing landscape of the club itself, which has seen more and more former Chelsea players return in positions of power including Petr Čech as technical
director advisor, could be a good topic for debate.
“I haven’t spoken to him (Abramovich) recently; I speak to Marina (Granovskaia) a lot and with Petr (Čech). We are very joined up and we talk a lot and communication is key in that.
“One thing I really realised coming into this job, I was here a long time as a player, but as manager people will consistently ask you about your relationship with the board and the owner etc. I hope that this shows how we’ve worked together, all of us, with how we work, with recruitment, scouting and all playing our roles, in trying to bring the right players and being joined up.”
The upshot of it all is that for the first time in a long time, there seems to be genuine synergy between all the powers that be at Chelsea Football Club, and so far, that’s netting some tremendous returns both in terms of youth development and statement-making signings (which has long been the ideal many have advocated for).
“When you say that I know the owner very well, in the workplace, to a degree, I do. But I also understand what he wants for this club. I played under it, I felt it as a player when he first came here so I get that, and with my conversations with Marina that’s always relayed.
“I want the same as him. In terms of his commitment, I think he has shown his commitment regularly to our football club. We have done some business now that will hopefully improve us for next season and we want to keep moving forward.”
What it’s also showing is that Roman Abramovich remains firmly committed to his club, once seen as a flight of fancy but now quite clearly a passion project of deepest desires. He may not be spending ridiculous sums on a stadium — and that’s turning into a great economic decision at the moment — and he may be still dealing with his visa issues, but he’s loosening the purse strings to enable Chelsea’s gap-closing transfer market activities.
“There’s pressure in the Chelsea job whatever. There’s expectations to whatever degree, we’re a well-supported club, well-followed club and scrutiny is big as we know. That’s why we love the Premier League and why we’re trying to do our best. So I don’t mind the idea, I get it.
“We’re trying to improve here. So I don’t mind that pressure. I will have more pressure on myself. We do know that there is a big gap going upwards when you look at the performance of Liverpool and City in the last couple of years.
“So we need to really work to try and close that gap.”
The ultimate aim, as always, is winning.
“We have to be very positive. This is Chelsea Football Club and we want to close the gap. And signings like Timo and Ziyech are both nice statements.
“There are other areas we might want to improve as we go along. But there have to be players available in the market that we can get, and we feel confident and comfortable that we can get them at the right place and to fill the right holes and improve us. But now the games have started it’s really important for myself, that I and the players focus on trying to finish the season well.
“And then hopefully we can have the excitement of some new players that we know now are coming in to help us next year.”
-Frank Lampard; source: PA via Irish Examiner
Let’s get to it!