The first season of the Frank Lampard era — we can only hope it’s an era! — is in the books, and it’s been ... good? It’s been good.
Considering that this time last summer the question was just how low we can reasonably set expectations — “just avoid relegation” — achieving a top-four finish, reaching a Cup final and the Champions League knockout rounds would indeed be good, if not better than good. Lampard himself is “pleased” but obviously disappointed in how things ended here in the last couple weeks.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, the only man in the Chelsea hierarchy who ever says anything in public, shares that sentiment.
“In the round we think it was a very successful season. I think obviously we would have been a little bit happier if we had won the FA Cup. But I’m sure the manager and the players were gutted not to lift the trophy.”
Lampard signed a three-year contract last summer and was reportedly “personally assured” by Roman Abramovich of at least two years, essentially getting a “free season” — “the transfer ban relieves the pressure; [if] you don’t buy players, you buy time,” as José Mourinho put it a bit jealously.
Mourinho’s predictions held true — his predictions to beat Lampard with Spurs less so — and Chelsea did indeed finish fourth while giving a third of all Premier League minutes to players from the Academy.
So now, the real work begins. No more (easy) excuses. The gap to the top two is still significant, but we must show real progress at the very least. There’s plenty of room for improvement, for the players as well as the staff.
“Frank Lampard is a very positive force for Chelsea. He’s Chelsea through and through and that continues to show through. He carries a lot of credibility.
“It’s an exciting time for Chelsea.”
-Bruce Buck; source: PA via BT Sport
These are the sorts of challenges that Lampard thrived on as a player. There’s no reason to think he won’t as a head coach.
Exciting times indeed!