Tuesday 20 August 2019

Lampard aims to impose a new style at the Bridge

Frank Lampard. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire
Frank Lampard. Photo: John Walton/PA Wire

Sam Wallace

When Frank Lampard arrived at Derby County one year ago, the job spec was to play a different style of football as they had previously been a side that got behind the ball in numbers.

There was no pressure for promotion from the Championship, rather a year of transition in which progress could be made and the age profile of the squad - then the oldest in the top four divisions - could be addressed.

One year on, and the job that Lampard now faces at Chelsea - after his deal was confirmed yesterday - is on a far bigger scale, with much greater scrutiny.

Disposal

However, he walked back into Stamford Bridge yesterday evening knowing that he has already shown himself to be capable of adapting to the resources at his disposal.

As he becomes the first Englishman to manage Chelsea in the Roman Abramovich era, Lampard's coaching career covers just one season, but, in that year at Derby, there were many clues as to how he might approach this new job that has arrived far sooner than he anticipated.

The Chelsea squad, under their current Fifa transfer ban, will require their young manager to impose his style quickly and with not every piece of the jigsaw available.

He meets his players for the first time tomorrow when they fly to Dublin for a pre-season programme.

One year earlier, at Lampard's first pre-season game with Derby, a behind-closed-doors match at the training ground against a Crewe Alexandra XI, the individual running statistics of his team eclipsed any of the game data for the entire previous season.

Lampard was unsure whether to be delighted that his insistence on a high-energy approach was taking effect or concerned at just how low a base they were coming from. He found a squad that was, on the whole, willing to change.

Veteran Irish defender Richard Keogh embraced the new approach of trying, when possible, to play out from the back, and many thought he had his best season in seven years at the club.

For others like midfielders George Thorne and Tom Huddlestone it was more difficult to adapt. At the beginning, David Nugent's willingness to work from the front meant that he played ahead of Jack Marriott, 10 years his junior. Matej Vydra had looked ideal for the job, but was sold to Burnley that same summer.

The development of right-back Jayden Bogle (18) promoted from the U-23s and given his first-team debut by Lampard was one of the major development triumphs.

So too Duane Holmes (24), a midfielder signed from Scunthorpe United and a senior United States international as of this year.

Compensate

Lampard along with his assistants Jody Morris and Chris Jones were always committed to a possession-based, passing game, but they were well aware of the squad's limitations. They asked their players to be committed to the plan, and to work hard to compensate but they were not ideological about the style of play.

There were times when the approach of an opponent paid to be direct. At Chelsea, he has a team that was immersed in the Sarri brand of football that has delivered some fine passages of play, but not the control of games enjoyed by Manchester City, the masters of that art. Lampard favours the possession game but not possession for the sake of it and would rather be more direct than the occasional meandering style, so often a source of frustration at Chelsea. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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