From 17 unbeaten to winning just once in six tries in all competitions, Chelsea’s season has certainly taken a turn, and not for the better. One thing that hasn’t changed much however despite the change in fortunes has been our tactical setup and approach to the game, with head coach Frank Lampard sticking staunchly to his 4-3-3 formation and tactics that got us that unbeaten run in the first place.
Lampard’s reluctance to chop and change comes in stark contrast to what we saw in his first two seasons in management, first at Derby County then at Chelsea, but while it’s often regarded as a good thing to have settled lineups and tactics, once the wins dry up, it may be time to change things up.
But Lampard is keeping the faith, at least for now.
“Do I change things? Sometimes, a little bit. I tweak things. I never think I’ve cracked it or that a result had nothing to do with me. You have to search, but you also have to stick to your principles. Sometimes the things that get lauded when you do well get criticised when you don’t purely because of the result.”
Lampard does bring up a salient point in that judging football and making decisions based purely on results is not a feasible way to operate, especially in anything longer than the most immediate-term. It may be the preferred way of social media, but the real world of football doesn’t work like that.
That said, results do have the final say. Lampard knows that better than anyone.
“One of my strengths hopefully is never being too excited when we’re going well [and] not be too down when results go against us.
“The first person who puts pressure on me is me. I do that all the time, for good and bad, so that doesn’t change much. I’m not stupid, I know that we need to get results. We want to get results.
“[...] I enjoy pressure. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have got back into this. I would have walked away at the first chance and that’s something I’d never do.”
As a player, Lampard was famous for responding under pressure, for working harder than anyone, for focusing intensely on the moment. And that’s precisely what he wants to see from his players now.
“You’re [not] as happy [now] as when you’re on that 16-game unbeaten run and that’s normal. But it does make me focus absolutely. You learn more in defeat and tough moments.
“It’s head down time. Head down and work. And not consider the table too much. We know we’re there or thereabouts.”
One player who certainly needs anything and everything at his disposal to snap out of his slump is Timo Werner, who’s now gone 11 appearances without a goal. Sunday’s game would be a perfect time to do so, and he has Lampard’s full backing for that as well.
“Every player goes through tough times in front of goal. The beauty is that Timo’s been getting chances and that’s definitely a positive.
“I found work on the training ground was the only way to turn it around - that repetition of finishing, which Timo is doing now. When you work like that it’s a matter of time because his natural attributes will get him in front of goal and away from defenders.
“If his confidence goes down after missing a couple, that’s only natural. It’s my job to help him with his confidence and push him in a positive direction. Then the goals will come. He’s sharp, he can finish. And sometimes the onus is on us to get him the ball in the right areas.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Sky
Working harder isn’t always the answer, but maybe this time it’s the right one.