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Opinion | Everything Maurizio Sarri was bashed for is now acceptable under Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard had huge voids to fill in when he walked in as the Chelsea manager. Arguably, Chelsea and Premier League’s best player Eden Hazard had just left the club for Real Madrid, there was a two window transfer ban in place and Maurizio Sarri had abandoned the ship to join Juventus.

Any manager in the world would have perhaps refused the job but Abramovich and his colleagues found the perfect man in Frank Lampard. Who else to lead Chelsea in their time of crisis other than their blue blooded legend and the top scorer in their club’s history.

Frank Lampard had his job cut out, from using academy players in the starting eleven to putting a strategy in place which by Lampard’s own admission is heavily reliant on off the ball movements.

It would be wrong to say that Frank Lampard has not had success with this current crop of young Chelsea players, however there seems to be a Maurizio Sarri sized shadow looming over Chelsea.

Some of Lampard’s ideas, mistakes and substitutions have stark similarity to the current Juventus manager. It is mildly surprising that Frank Lampard is not yet receiving flak from much of the media or the fans.

World class defensive midfielder being played out of position

Maurizio Sarri was primarily accused of being strategically very stubborn. A 4-3-3 with Jorginho at the base of the midfield, Kante in a more advanced position playing on the right hand side of Jorginho, is how Maurizio Sarri shaped his team during his tenure at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard’s appointment brought hope, it was expected of him to play Kante in his best position as a defensive midfielder. In all of Lampard’s game where Kante played, he either formed a double pivot with Jorginho or as the case was under Sarri, Kante played on the right of a three man midfield.

The English tabloids which once criticized the Italian coach for not returning to the basics with his Chelsea strategy have turned a blind eye to Frank Lampard’s similar use of N’Golo Kante.

Although Frank Lampard found success in a few matches with this formation, off late N’Golo Kante’s performance have been a reason of disgruntlement among the Stamford Bridge faithfuls.

Sarri – Jorginho = Lampard – Mount?

The first goal of the Frank Lampard era came through one of Chelsea’s academy graduate – 21 year old attacking midfielder Mason Mount.

Mason Mount’s work rate, goal scoring ability, late runs into the box and the capability to play in multiple positions makes him an absolute carbon copy of his manager.

All that being said, Mount has performed way below par in a few games, his inconsistency and his inability to turn up at moments when it matters has cost Chelsea a few points this season.

Lampard has time and again stuck with Mason Mount sacrificing Mateo Kovacic in the process – a proven box to box midfielder and an efficient dribbler.

Similar accusations were made against Maurizio Sarri after he chose to stick with Jorginho in spite of the playmakers quite evident inability to provide defensive cover to the back four. 

The curious case of Ross Barkley

The midweek London derby between Chelsea and Arsenal saw Frank Lampard substitute Mateo Kovacic at the 65th minute with Ross Barkley.

One of the popular substitutions during the Maurizio Sarri era was also the introduction of Ross Barkley in place of Mateo Kovacic around the 70th minute mark.

With 7 goals and 5 assists in 63 games in all competitions, the problem is not with the similarity but with the fact that Ross Barkley has failed to prove himself under either manager.

Similar strategies or long-lasting Sarriball effect

It would be oversimplifying a complex situation if one would say Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard has a similar style of management.

It would not be entirely wrong to say that there has been a change of culture at Chelsea since Lampard’s appointment with the highlight of the season being academy players coming through.

It would be almost criminal to say that Frank Lampard and Maurizio Sarri have similar ways of playing.

The outcome of their managerial tenures might have similarities, that is because those are the symptoms of a club underperforming.

The clock’s ticking for Lamps

Jose Mourinho, Rafa Benitez, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Di Matteo, Antonio Conte – just a few world class managers who have had a taste of Chelsea’s revolving door policy when it comes to managers.

Only time will tell how long Frank Lampard will stay but if he has to secure his stay, he has to find the answers.

With 3 games against top 6 teams in the coming weeks and an UCL knockout fixture against Bayern Munich, Lampard has to find answers fast. It won’t be long before his get-out-of-jail free card of being a club legend expires.

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