How often are we used to watching Chelsea slog their way through a match against lower league opposition in the early rounds of the domestic cups?
So it was refreshing to watch us batter Grimsby like a newly caught cod, fresh off of one of the town’s fishing boats.
Why was it so different?
Simple. Frank Lampard.
Normally in these games the managers rotate the squad, give opportunities to squad players and the occasional youngster.
However, they know that the chances of them keeping their spot in the starting eleven come Saturday are slim.
So even if they play out of their skin, they know the manager is going to stick to the status quo.
With Lampard, things feel much different. Players are picked on merit and through performances in training, it doesn’t matter what your name is or how experienced you are, if you’re training hard, showing your talent, you’ll play.
That’s been shown already, with Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham given regular opportunities to start.
While the likes of Billy Gilmour, who made his full debut against Grimsby, has been given a place on the bench and one substitute appearance so far.
Gilmour might have been given similar chances under other managers, but the difference now, is that he has an actual chance to replace the likes of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic.
If those two don’t perform to the level required, Lampard isn’t afraid of throwing the young midfielder into the deep end.
And the players feel that, it’s why the likes of Michy Batshuayi, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ross Barkley and Christian Pulisic ran the Grimsby defence ragged.
Because unlike in the past, they could easily find themselves in the starting line up on Saturday against Brighton.
Same goes for the returning Reece James, it doesn’t matter that club captain Cesar Azpilicueta is the current incumbent of the right back position, if he plays well and trains well, he’ll play.
Lampard has spoken about what the fans want to see, and the team was clapped off the pitch last weekend despite losing 2-1 to Liverpool because the team showed fight, desire, passion and commitment to the cause.
Academy players, who’ve lived and breathed Chelsea Football Club from the ages of 8 years old, will naturally show a love and desire for the team, but finally giving them a real chance only heightens that.
And as for the established professionals, they know that if they let their performances slip, there’s somebody waiting to take their place and that Lampard isn’t afraid to make those changes.
And to a man they’ve all done that so far this season, and that’s one of the reasons why the Lampard era is so exciting.
The fans want to be at Stamford Bridge, as do the players and perhaps even more importantly, so does the manager.
Dean is the author of ‘Cult Fiction- how a year under Sarri almost tore Chelsea apart’ available on Amazon now amzn.to/2T7v5Tu