Chelsea may have gotten paired with fourth division Morecambe FC in the third round of the FA Cup, but just because there was a massive gap in quality not to mention about 60 places in the pyramid between the teams, that didn’t mean that Lampard was going to take any chances with any sort of sentimental Academy Day exercise.
In fact, of the five youngsters who were promoted to train with the first-team this week, with Lampard speaking highly of them in his pre-match press conference and adding that “some may be involved” even, only Tino Anjorin made the bench. At least he did come on for the final ten minutes for his fourth appearance for the club, as the other four didn’t even make the squad let alone make their senior debuts. An opportunity well wasted in that regard, in disappointingly familiar scenes.
And sure, Jürgen Klopp did the same at Liverpool facing Aston Villa’s Academy, Pep Guardiola did the same at Manchester City facing struggling Birmingham City, and José Mourinho did the same at Spurs facing non-league Marine FC. And all were rewarded with handsome wins. And all will get to hypocritically complain about fixture congestion and squad fatigue at the next opportunity.
Perhaps if things were going better for Lampard elsewhere, he would’ve found more room for sentimentality in his squad selection. He and Jody Morris were supposed to be cut from a different cloth than those who had come before them, after all. Their reversion to the old paradigm after last year’s Youth Revolution™ really took the shine off the day and the easy 4-0 win, too.
And if Lampard was hoping to use the game as a confidence boost and a chance to develop the squad’s killer instinct, he himself also admitted after the game that there is only so much to learn in that sense from a fourth division opponent.
So what was the point again?
“Yes, we got what we wanted from the team. It’s not easy when you’re expected to win, which is right with our squad. They made it difficult for us early on but we did well and got our goals, and it will give confidence for the lads.
“It will give us a bit of confidence, but I don’t want to overstate that because of the nature of the game. We’ve had a period where we haven’t had a good run, and we need to get better results. And the only way out for us is to work hard, and the lads worked hard this week in training.”
I suppose flat-track bullying is part of the training? Winning is a habit, after all, regardless of opposition.
“What we can’t ask the youth of this squad sometimes is to be absolutely consistent and be killers like other players in the league are in terms of the numbers they produce and consistently produce.”
“What we have at the club [are] a lot of young players who have a lot of potential or are new to the league [but] there is work to be done to produce the numbers that will hopefully make up the gap to challenge for league titles.
“I played in teams that won titles and you need those forwards who score 20+ and those defenders who will keep clean sheets. You need those players throughout the team. For us, we have huge potential and some who have been there and done it. And that’s where we’re at at the moment. There is work to do.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Lampard was happy enough with the individual contributions of Werner, Havertz, Hudson-Odoi, and Gilmour, but this wasn’t the game to really change any of the narratives. And that was aso reflected in the boss’s post-match assessments as well, calling it a “nice step” for Werner, a “good step” for Havertz, praising Gilmour for “pushing” for more minutes, and again asking for even more from Hudson-Odoi.
But hey, at least we won a game.