Rookie of the year? Frank Lampard’s Chelsea all set for in the top four and are


Frank Lampard won’t miss his annual dose of abuse at West Ham

They taunted him when he was a teenager in claret-and-blue and they cranked up the anger when he left them and crossed London to join rivals Chelsea.

Lampard used the hate to fuel his fire as he matured into one of the world’s finest midfielders, breaking goal records for his club and collecting 106 caps for his country.

Frank Lampard will return to former club West Ham as a coach for the first time on Wednesday

Frank Lampard will return to former club West Ham as a coach for the first time on Wednesday

Lampard is used to abuse from Hammers fans from his Chelsea playing days (above)

Lampard is used to abuse from Hammers fans from his Chelsea playing days (above) 

As he returns for the first time as a manager, he is still proving people wrong – well set for Champions League qualification in his first season as a Premier League manager and into the FA Cup semi-finals.

It hasn’t been entirely serene but Lampard has tackled problems and responded to setbacks with the same steely determination which underpinned his playing career. 

Only a fortnight before lockdown, Chelsea appeared to be losing their way. They were fourth, nine points from Leicester in third, with the pack closing in.

They salvaged a point with a late equaliser at Bournemouth after a drubbing by Bayern Munich at Stamford Bridge and a home defeat against Manchester United. 

They were impressive against Tottenham, but those displays were increasingly scarce.

Before lockdown, Lampard's Chelsea appeared to be losing their way with inconsistent results

Before lockdown, Lampard’s Chelsea appeared to be losing their way with inconsistent results 

Chelsea escaped the doldrums by beating Liverpool in the FA Cup when Lampard thrust Billy Gilmour into midfield and the teenager ran the show, just as he did in a 4-0 win against Everton five days later.

Liverpool were understrength and Everton were downright awful that day, but Lampard has not dodged difficult decisions. One was to sell David Luiz without buying a replacement. 

Another was to drop Kepa Arrizabalaga, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper at £72million. He left out Christian Pulisic, signed for £58m, and preferred Mason Mount.

Moreover, insiders at Chelsea note a key difference to his predecessors. When things went wrong for Antonio Conte or Maurizio Sarri, the Italians would turn inwards, lines of communication broke down and trust would erode. 

The Blues have looked much better post-lockdown and Lampard is very much responsible

The Blues have looked much better post-lockdown and Lampard is very much responsible 

Choices such as dropping goalkeeper Kepa, now back in the side, worked in Lampard's favour

Choices such as dropping goalkeeper Kepa, now back in the side, worked in Lampard’s favour

FRANK LAMPARD MANAGER STATS

  • 198 appearances for 13 different Chelsea academy graduates this season — the most for the club for 22 years, since 13 graduates made 206 appearances in 1997-98. 
  • Lampard is the first manager to do the league double over Jose Mourinho, beating the Portuguese’s Spurs side 2-0 away and 2-1 at home. 
  • He’d be the first Englishman to qualify for the Champions League with an English club since his uncle Harry Redknapp with Tottenham in 2010.

Lampard, perhaps because he and his coaches understand the machinations of this peculiar club, has avoided the usual…



Read More:Rookie of the year? Frank Lampard’s Chelsea all set for in the top four and are