Posted on Sunday, 29th July 2012 by chidge
Super Frank Lampard will enter his 12th season at Chelsea come August 2012 and I think its fair to say very few people could of predicted the sort of impact he has had on this football club. To date, Frank has made 558 appearances for Chelsea and scored 186 goals…17 more and he’ll be Chelsea’s highest ever goal scorer over-taking Bobby Tambling on 202.
It isn’t just the goals that make Frank Lampard so special as a footballer. If anything it’s a small part of what he offers to Chelsea when comparing it to other attributes to gives. He creates as many goals as he scores, proves to be a calm and inspirational influence, disciplined in all battles and has an incredible intelligence that makes him aware of everything that is around him to hit passes and make tackles as well as always being there on the big occasion.
What I’m most impressed with, despite all of the honors for club and himself, is that he has had to work hard to make the most of the ability he has. That attitude to continue being the best is what has got him to where he is today.
Unfortunately for us fans, Lampard has turned 34 and he is well into the twilight of his career. It will be interesting to see if he is offered a new contract (obviously he should) and secondly how much longer he’ll be able to keep the consistent standards as sky high as he has done for so long.
Lampard is a legend for Chelsea, and in my opinion, I feel his contribution has surpassed the great Gianfranco Zola. Its hard to imagine Chelsea without him, dragging us through when we’ve needed it the most, but all good things must eventually come to an end…guess the question is how will we cope without Lampard?
Thankfully for us, Chelsea are going the right way to make contingency plans for when eventually the great man hangs up his boots, although undoubtedly it will be one of the saddest days in Chelsea Football Club. But, life after Lampard could be just as good as it is with him.
First of all, the change in system has seemed to play a part massively. In his heyday at prime age and fitness, Lampard was the best man to have in a 4-3-3 formation for his box-to-box qualities. Now we’ve reverted to the more popular formation of a 4-2-3-1, we have seen Lampard drop deeper into midfield, occupying one of the traditional 2 defensive positions in front of the back four. In todays football, one of those positions in the “2” is primarily for a player that can link defense to attack, a deep lying playmaker if you like, to which we’ve seen Lampard do ever so well last season.
Luckily for Chelsea, we now have plenty of players in this new system to occupy this role as good, if not better, than Lampard. McEachran coming through can play this role as can new signing Oscar, who in my eyes will really be the closest thing to actually replacing Lampard judging on his attributes displayed already.
Even if Chelsea did revert back to a 4-3-3 for odd games or a tactical switch and need a box-to-box midfielder that will do everything going forward and defensively, our Brazilian gem Ramires fits the bill perfectly.
As mentioned before, Lampard is the greatest goal scoring midfielder ever in English football and his goals will be missed. I’ll be quite happy to put my neck on the line now and say that in my lifetime, the chances of seeing such a goal scorer from an out and out midfielder is very slim, if not impossible.
So replacing his goals will not be down to one man…it will be a joint effort. Looking at our current squad, without including Frank or forwards, from our attacking players I’d say there are at least 4 capable of scoring 10-15 goals. We saw Ramires and Mata score 12 and 13 respectively…Hazard and Marin are more than capable of scoring those sort of numbers too.
In the past we’ve seen Lampard score 20 and the next midfield player closest to him on 8-10. The transformation in system with these new players will hopefully make up the goals we will sorely miss from Lampard.
Finally, and possibly the hardest to replace, is his influence and leadership. Over the last 11 years I’ve lost count on the amount of times Lampard has single handedly dragged Chelsea to extra points. With the loss of Drogba, another big leader, in the coming years it will be hard to part with another natural leader.
Being a leader however isn’t all about having a big personality or being able to motivate the performances of others. It’s about how you influence a game of football too. Arguably, and unfairly, we probably relied on Lampard too often last season to do this with the lack of creation in the side (Mata had the same pressure too). However, with the signings of Hazard, Marin, De Bruyne and Oscar we now have young players that can create something out of nothing. Not necessarily big personalities as yet, but these guys will take a game by the scruff of the neck and pull a result out, which in turn will motivate others to do the same. These guys, alongside Ramires, Mata, Torres and the already established Luiz, Cech, Cahill and legend that is John Terry; that same influence and leadership on games can be taken from them, taking the reigns from Frank.
As you can see from what I’ve written, whether you agree or not, there is no way of replacing Lampard perfectly like for like. He truly is a one in a billion player, which is shown by the amount of other players I’ve had to mention to help take the responsibility of covering the huge hole he’ll leave when time is called.
It could be argued that Chelsea have been building to this for the last couple of years with the new signings, introduction of Josh McEachran, switch of formation and the amount of times we’re now starting to see Lampard come from the bench. All of this planning, money and thought to replace what one man can offer us really does show how special Frank Lampard has been, still is and hopefully will be for a few more years yet.
But we know that as long as Lampard can run he’ll continue to pull world class performances that got us to where we are now and as long as he is doing that he’ll remain the indispensible player that he has been for so long now.
It will the saddest day I think I’ll experience seeing Frank Lampard leave the holy turf of Stamford Bridge knowing he’ll never walk on it again…but there is life after Lampard and from where I’m sitting at the moment its going to be exciting.
By Liam Hawkes