The news that Frank Lampard was named lead coach for Chelsea rocked the world of football when it was announced on July 4.
For some, it was welcome news. For others, it was a sign of troubling things to come.
There’s no doubt that the retired midfielder is a master performer on the field. But does he have the skills needed to refine the raw metal with which he has to work?
Only time will give us the answer to that question but early signs are that Lampard’s three-year reign will make the coming season a festive time indeed for Chelsea fans.
Changing tactics for changing times
Reports say that the new coach has taken a page from the divine playbook, by remaking Chelsea in his own image.
Here’s what has happened so far:
- Lampard recently put the team through a grueling week-long training session at Carton House outside Dublin. Locals quipped that, for once, the sound of swishing golf clubs could not be heard from Chelsea players. They were too busy trying to match the pace set by their new coach.
- Gone are the days when Chelsea players practiced rote-like reinforcement of basic techniques. Circuit training has given way to what Lampard calls “adaptability”. Each player must decide for himself what is to be done at a given moment.
- The approach to coaching has been streamlined. Lampard has transformed his department’s focus, replacing formal instruction with fluid improvisation. The idea is to make each player an active and autonomous participant, rather than a well-oiled cog in a deterministic machine.
There’s no doubt that the days of Maurizio Sarri are over forever. Lampard is putting his own brush strokes on the canvas.
What’s all this about?
Lampard’s reforms tell us that he is keen on a concept known as “empowerment.” This idea has existed in the business world for decades, but only in recent years has it entered the world of sport.
The idea behind empowerment is simple. There is no single best way to achieve any goal, including success in football. Adaptation is everything.
Lampard displayed this coaching philosophy during recent matches with the Bohemian FC as well as St. Patrick.
He used three separate formations during the matches, adjusting the set-up as needed to deal with the opposing team’s tactics.
This was a shocking change indeed from the cast-in-stone 4-3-3 approach that Chelsea fans saw throughout last season.
The man whom fans affectionately call “Lamps” is putting his Mensa-level IQ to good use indeed.
Whoever said that intelligence is only good for doing maths?
Photo by Manuel Heinrich/ CC BY-SA 3.0
Turning a weakness into a strength
Every Chelsea fan knows that the club is under a two-year ban for orchestrating a series of under-age signings (a decision the club is appealing).
This offence has left the team with a number of unseasoned 18 year-olds, normally a serious defect in the world of football.
With his new approach, Lampard has turned this weakness into a strength, building on his players’ inexperience to inculcate them with his philosophy.
Football fans are looking forward to the launch of US betting app Fox Bet this fall, when they will have a feel for how Lampard’s coaching style is playing out on the field.
Early signs are that Chelsea has found its true leader. Just ask the lads in Ireland who faced the revitalised team in recent matches.
Storm clouds on the horizon?
Alas, all of our conjecturing may be for naught over the coming months.
The history of football is filled with novel schemes conjured up by unconventional thinkers.
Most of them have come crashing to the ground, evidence that the tried-and-true is both tried and true for a reason.
Nevertheless, it’s obvious to even casual observers that Chelsea’s brand has grown a bit stale of late.
If nothing else, coach Frank Lampard has energised his old team with fresh new enthusiasm.
For that reason, if for no other, we wish him all the best as he tackles the challenges ahead.