Chelsea Football Club has become a force to reckon with in English and European soccer since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003. Since then, Chelsea has won four Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League trophy, two UEFA Europa League trophies, five FA Cups, and three League Cups.
Chelsea seems to always win trophies, but that doesn’t mean the club is without its issues. Since 2003, Chelsea has had 16 managerial appointments. Despite the constant coaching turnover, Chelsea has still been one of the most successful teams in England.
It now seems that Chelsea is entering a new era under Frank Lampard. Lampard was appointed on July 4, 2019, and has already moved the club into completely new territory.
Lampard is one of Chelsea’s most legendary players and is an iconic figure in the sport. The former midfielder made 429 appearances for the club and scored 147 goals, an extraordinary amount of goals for a midfielder. He became Chelsea’s all-time leading goal scorer before leaving the club in 2014.
Lampard retired from playing in 2016 and began his managerial career in 2018 where he coached Derby County to a playoff final in the Championship, England’s second tier of professional soccer.
Chelsea’s previous manager, Maurizio Sarri, was only at the club for one season. He won the Europa League and helped Chelsea finish in the top four of the Premier League, a pretty successful season all things considered. However, Sarri left for Juventus in his native Italy. Chelsea was also handed a transfer ban, meaning that the next manager to come to the club would have to work with the players already at the club.
This approach, though not by choice, contrasts from Chelsea’s usual method of buying new players every transfer window. With players like Chelsea legend Eden Hazard leaving for Spanish club Real Madrid and enigmatic defender David Luiz leaving for local rivals Arsenal, many fans worried about the club’s ability to compete at the top level.
Pressure has been placed on Chelsea to play its youth academy products in the first team more often, but because of Chelsea’s pressure on managers to prioritize winning over everything else, managers usually opt to play the established and older players as opposed to giving youth players a chance to prove themselves.
This has been an issue for years largely due to how successful the club’s youth academy has been in recent years. The club has won the FA Youth Cup seven (!) times since 2010, with five of those trophies coming to the club in five successive years between 2014 and 2018. The academy also won successive UEFA Youth League titles in 2015 and 2016.
The transfer ban gave the club and its demanding fans a reason to become more patient with a team that looked like it would need at least a few months to start playing up to Chelsea’s standards. This has surprisingly not been the case.
Despite Lampard only having one year of managerial experience under his belt, he has led a revolution unlike anything seen in Chelsea’s modern history. Lampard’s man-management and connection with the fans have changed Chelsea for the better.
Lampard has injected youth into the first team while still maintaining a balance of experienced players in the side. Players such as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, and Fikayo Tomori have become integral pieces into this Chelsea team, and with good reason.
Abraham (striker) has scored eight goals and assisted once in the Premier League, Mount (midfielder) has scored four goals and assisted once in the Premier League. Tomori (center back) has scored once and has shown qualities of a future Chelsea great. Meanwhile, there are still other players such as Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek that have recently or are still coming back from an injury that has all had major impacts on the first team already.
Then there’s Christian Pulisic, the 21-year-old American player that many have claimed is going to lead the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) into a new era. Chelsea secured Pulisic’s services in January, before the transfer ban was enacted by UEFA, and loaned him back to Borussia Dortmund for the remainder of the 2018-19 season. Now in his first season at Chelsea, it seems that he will be an important part of Frank Lampard’s team.
Many questioned whether or not Chelsea would be too great of a challenge for the young American, but he is beginning to prove that he can compete at the top level. On Oct. 23, Pulisic provided the winning assist against Ajax in the Champions League and on Oct. 26, Pulisic scored a perfect and natural hat trick against Burnley in the Premier League, becoming the first American to do so since Clint Dempsey in 2012.
Chelsea is currently in fourth place in the Premier League and first in Group H of the Champions League group stage. Lampard and his team also have attained seven wins in a row across all competitions.
The transfer ban was a blessing in disguise, and Chelsea are reaping the benefits. This is all happening while many of Chelsea’s players are still injured, giving Frank Lampard a plethora of players to think about for line up selection.
Chelsea’s future is looking bright, and fans have a reason to be excited about this seemingly new version of Chelsea. The only question left is whether or not Chelsea will continue to promote deserving youth players to the first team once the ban is lifted. For now, Chelsea fans can enjoy their homegrown players show their hard work and talent on the field.
Photo Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Images via Getty Images
Kyle Soto is the Sports Content Marketing Director at The Wolf Internet Radio. You can follow Kyle for soccer content on Twitter @kyledsoto.