Lampard’s debut season
2019/20, of course, marked Frank Lampard’s first season as Chelsea boss.
Despite his status as a club legend, though, Lampard’s appointment, under normal circumstances, would likely have been viewed as a bit odd.
The Englishman had just one season of managerial experience under his belt before being offered the job, which came in the Championship with Derby County.
However, the Blues’ transfer ban left the club in something of a precarious position, which actually played into Lampard’s hands.
With Eden Hazard having clinched a long touted move to Real Madrid, and no new faces to have followed last summer, the expectations surrounding Lampard were rather low.
As a result, 2019/20 came as something of a free hit for the young tactician, and though he did a solid job, reaching an FA Cup final and finishing 4th in the Premier League table, under normal circumstances, some more questions may have been asked of Lampard and his Chelsea side.
In the season ahead, though, it is hard to envision Lampard being afforded any sort of lowered bar.
This of course comes with a host of high-profile personnel having arrived at Stamford Bridge already this summer.
Lampard’s first marquee signing came after Chelsea agreed a £33.3m deal for Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech in February.
Then, in June, the Blues managed to beat off competition from Liverpool to secure the services of Timo Werner.
The 24-year-old was, in the eyes of most, the second-best forward in the Bundesliga last term, having notched 34 goals and 13 assists across 45 outings in all competitions.
Chelsea are understood to have paid an initial £45m for Werner.
The hitman’s arrival was followed up by the signing of Thiago Silva on a free transfer, Ben Chilwell for £50m and, most recently, the addition of arguably Germany’s hottest young prospect, Kai Havertz – whom Chelsea are said to have splashed out an initial £71m on.
The Pensioners’ summer business does yet not appear complete, though, with it recently reported that Rennes no.1 Edouard Mendy has agreed a five-year contract to make the move to the English capital.
Chelsea need to challenge for the Premier League
With such additions now secure, it is hard to argue that Chelsea do not have one of the finest squads in the Premier League.
Up top, Frank Lampard has all of Werner, Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud, Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and even potentially Havertz to choose from.
In midfield, the English tactician is also faced with a welcome selection headache.
Assuming Chelsea stick with a midfield three for the season ahead, Mason Mount, Havertz, Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante, Billy Gilmour, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho and Ross Barkley are set to battle it out for just three spots.
Granted, Chelsea’s defence isn’t as quality-filled, but the addition of Chilwell will no doubt go a long way towards solving the club’s left-back issue.
Reece James has also come on leaps and bounds of late, and should be able to carry his fine form into 2020/21.
The heart of their defence, meanwhile, arguably represents the London outfit’s weakest area on the pitch. But the addition of veteran Thiago Silva should help to tighten things up – as should the predicted arrival of the aforementioned Mendy.
So, with around £200m already spent, and such a quality squad assembled, should Chelsea be challenging for the Premier League title this season?
Frank Lampard himself moved to temper expectations of a title challenge last month, whilst Jamie Carragher has revealed his opinion that it will once again be Liverpool and Manchester City battling it out for English top-flight supremacy in the forthcoming season.
The reality of the situation, though, is that Chelsea simply must be title challengers in 2020/21.
Yes, they did finish a whopping 33 points adrift of champions Liverpool, and 15 off runners-up Manchester City, in the Premier League table last time out.
But, considering the level of talent that Chelsea have brought in this summer, that gap has to be reduced dramatically.
Obviously, with so many new faces coming through the door at once, it may take some time for the Blues’ squad to gel, and for Lampard to find his best system/eleven.
But the fact remains that if Chelsea finish anything close to 33 points behind next season’s champions, questions will inevitably be asked.
Lampard’s standing with the club will likely buy him a little more leeway than is normally afforded to managers at the Bridge. But if silverware is not forthcoming in the near future, it is hard to see Roman Abramovich persisting with the Englishman.
This is by no means stating that Chelsea absolutely have to clinch Premier League glory this season, with a case certainly there to be made that Lampard’s squad, particularly at centre-back, still requires further reinforcement.
However, the Blues, at the very least, must be in the title picture in 2020/21.
This article was edited by Conor Laird.
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