Currently sitting in fourth place, one point behind third, Frank Lampard will be vying for his Chelsea side to see out the remaining games in order to qualify for next season’s Champions League competition.
When Lampard joined from Derby County last summer, there were few expectations, especially given their ongoing transfer ban that prohibited the club from signing anyone to a professional contract.
After a rocky start in the early months, Lampard found his stride with his new crop of players and started to integrate the promising generation of tomorrow. Criticised in the past for not giving youth chances, the English coach was given – out of necessity – a platform to be able to blood these youngsters.
Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Fikayo Tomori and Billy Gilmour are the recipients of Lampard’s project to bring youth through and also on a consistent basis. Of course, Hudson-Odoi broke through before Lampard was in his current post, but he has featured handsomely under the Englishman.
In more recent months pre-COVID-19, Gilmour was the latest young starlet breaking through into the first-team, after being mightily impressive for the U-23 side during the season.
The Scotland youth international has shown his talent in abundance in the short time he has been with his seniors, featuring nine times in all competitions and racking up just over 400 minutes of football.
While Chelsea’s transfer ban has expired and both Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner already brought in as two world-class signings, Lampard has reassured those youth players that chances will continue to be there if they show their quality.
A top four finish is an absolute minimum for the Blues on season after season, with Lampard being expected to kick on in his second campaign and win some silverware – notably the Premier League.
While the competition is at its highest in Manchester City and Liverpool, Lampard has shown he can beat Pep Guardiola’s team, as he has done since the return of football which, in turn, awarded the confirmation to the Reds of their first ever Premier League title.
One area that Lampard still needs to improve on is left back, with the ageing Marcos Alonso perhaps coming to the end of his time at Stamford Bridge. Discussions were said to be had with FC Porto’s Alex Telles, who is valued at around £35 million, but so far nothing further has progressed.
But the number one candidate is Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell, who has had a stellar season with the Foxes and is currently their competitor in securing third place. The English left back is now an England regular under Gareth Southgate, which makes the transfer commercially viable.
If Lampard can gel his team to together and bring in a replacement left back for Alonso, there are the makings of a side that can – on its day – go toe-to-toe with the best of them.