Every club, every manager, every coach, every player seeks validation that their methods and beliefs work.
Mostly they seek this through victories, Jose Mourinho might have played ‘defensive’ football in big games, but he was often validated with victories.
“Do you know what this is? 3-0. But it also means three Premierships and I won more Premierships alone than the other 19 managers together. Three for me and two for them two. So respect man, respect, respect, respect.”
Elite clubs, like Chelsea, will seek their validation through trophies, while teams at the other end of the table seek validation through staying in the division.
For Frank Lampard, his validation right now isn’t about trophies, or even victories, but simply in performances.
Lampard’s managed two games and lost both, however in both games, Lampard, and his coaching staff, would’ve found validation in large parts of them.
Against Manchester United, everything was in Chelsea’s favour except goals scored.
Chelsea dominated large parts of the game, had more possession and more shots but ended up on the wrong side of a thrashing.
Much like last season, Chelsea couldn’t find the back of net, made an error defensively and totally collapsed.
However bad the final result, the performances of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount would’ve pleased Lampard, as would the fact they went to Old Trafford on the opening day of the season and had 18 shots.
You don’t do that unless you’ve played well.
After losing 4-0 to United, a trip to Istanbul to play European Champions Liverpool in the Super Cup was probably the last thing Lampard wanted.
Not many people, myself included, gave Chelsea even a slim chance of winning the game. I went into the game thinking anything else less than a 6-0 defeat would be a good result.
Lampard reverted back to 4-3-3, with Jorginho at the base of his midfield, much like last season, with Kante returning to the starting line up.
Last season’s Europa League’s top scorer Oliver Giroud replaced Abraham upfront, with American sensation Christian Pulisic getting his first Chelsea start.
Chelsea needed a reaction from the defeat at Old Trafford and they got one.
Despite the best efforts of Sky and BT Sport, this wasn’t the Liverpool show. Chelsea were more than a match for them.
And when Giroud put Chelsea ahead, things were looking good. Liverpool had a few chances, but nothing that really threatened Kepa.
Second half, same issues, a goal conceded almost immediately after the restart.
Chelsea’s reaction would’ve given Lampard some validation. This time they didn’t collapse, they regrouped, soaked up the Liverpool pressure and began to play themselves back into the game.
That kind of game management would’ve been extremely pleasing for Lampard and the coaching team to watch.
It showed Sunday’s collapse isn’t going to be a reoccurring problem.
Then in extra time, Liverpool took the lead, and Chelsea responded. Abraham getting to the ball ahead of Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian and earning a penalty which Jorginho calmly slotted home.
Chelsea took confidence in that goal and took the game to Liverpool, if Lampard wanted validation that his side could go toe to toe with the best teams in Europe, this was it.
Abraham had one final chance to win the game but he was unable to get good enough contact on the ball.
Then it’s penalties, a lottery, Lampard and Morris and co, would already had their validation in this performance, regardless of what would happen in the spot kicks.
It takes guts to stand up in a shoot-out, young Mount showed he’s the real deal, former Everton man Barkley showed his quality, with Emerson and Jorginho also scoring.
Liverpool scored all 5 kicks, with Chelsea needing their next taker to score. Up stepped Abraham. That’s the confidence you want in your centre forward.
Last season our strikers wouldn’t even take a penalty kick, despite the miss, it’s a good sign that Abraham even put his hand up.
Liverpool might have lifted the trophy, but despite the initial disappointment of the defeat, when they review the game, they’ll be so much to take from it.
The performances of the whole team, especially Pulisic and N’Golo Kante would’ve been extremely pleasing.
But not just that, the fact that for 120 minutes, Chelsea were equal to Liverpool. They showed the kind of quality that will keep them in contention for the top four.
Lampard might not have had any validation in results just yet, but in large parts of both games so far, he will have had enough validation to convince him that it’s a case of when not if, that first victory will come.
Dean is the author of ‘Cult Fiction- how a year under Sarri almost tore Chelsea apart’ available on Amazon now amzn.to/2T7v5Tu