The appointment of Frank Lampard as the new Chelsea head coach is an interesting one for Blues’ fans and Fantasy managers alike.
The retired midfielder has had only one year in club management, having led Derby County to a Championship play-off final in 2018/19.
Maurizio Sarri’s 11-month stay in west London ended with his appointment as Juventus manager in June and there is palpable hope among the Stamford Bridge faithful that Sarri’s exit could be a positive one for the club’s many academy products.
Lampard has already hinted that he will give youth a chance next season and that prospect will seem even likelier if Chelsea’s two-window transfer ban is upheld.
The departure of Eden Hazard is a blow and, with the Blues currently unable to recruit, we are faced with a strange situation of no Chelsea player being available for more than £7.5m in Fantasy Premier League next season.
Bargains could be had among the Blues’ squad, then, with the likes of Willian (£7.0m) and Christian Pulisic (£7.5m) catching the eye in the mid-price midfield bracket and several academy graduates – such as Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount, who are still yet to be priced up – potentially making the step up to senior level in 2019/20.
To help us piece together a picture of Lampard the manager, we have enlisted the help of Derby County fan site/Twitter account 12th Ram for further insight on the Chelsea boss.
What Style of Football Does Lampard Use?
We have only one season’s worth of evidence to draw upon but there were plenty of clues at Derby for what type of football Lampard will try to play in west London.
Like Sarri, Lampard frequently used a 4-3-3 but there were differences within the two systems.
Lampard often opted for an additional midfield enforcer (i.e. Bradley Johnson) just in front of the back four, as opposed to only playing a Jorginho (£5.0m)-type of ‘regista’ there.
N’Golo Kante (£5.0m) may well be the man Lampard turns to in that position, should he stick to a 4-3-3.
In his first press conference, Lampard said:
I’ve said it before, Kante is one of the greatest midfield players in the world. In the last few years, his performances have been outstanding. My job will be to find the best position to get the best out of him. I know the qualities, the attributes he has.
The new Chelsea boss exacted a high press from the front at Derby and high energy levels were asked of County’s midfielders and forwards when both in and out of possession.
The youthful zest of Ross Barkley (£6.0m) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (£6.5m) may nicely fit into a similar system, although where that would leave Jorginho is another question.
It’s not a given that Lampard will use a 4-3-3 at Chelsea, of course. The new Blues’ boss experimented with a similar 4-2-3-1, a 4-4-2 and a wing-back system during 2018/19.
The full-backs in Lampard’s Derby teams have been encouraged to get forward to provide width, with County’s wide midfielders having generally played as more narrow inside-forwards rather than out-and-out wingers.
Right-back Jayden Bogle, indeed, registered more assists than any of his team-mates last season.
One of the weaknesses of Lampard’s stewardship has been the spaces left behind his gallivanting full-backs when they bomb forward.
Similarly, the new Chelsea boss’s insistence on a high line and playing out from the back also caused a problem or two.
12th Ram said:
Lampard was very clear from the outset that he wanted to play a fast, aggressive, attacking game and at times we saw that in action.
However, his stubbornness to mix up the tactics often led to us being one-dimensional and predictable. Especially playing out from the back when we didn’t have the players to do so – it cost us a few goals!
Most Derby fans would agree that his tactical stubbornness – or being naive – cost us a few times last season.
Rotation is the Fantasy manager’s nemesis and 12th Ram said that Lampard is prone to making the odd change to his line-ups on a week-to-week basis. In particular, he referenced the flanks, which could slightly temper interest in Willian and Pedro (£7.0m) ahead of the pre-season matches.
He’s a bit of a rotator but this doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his favourites. Expect changes each game but usually on the flanks or up top, whereas he tends to keep a more settled defence.
For much more detailed analysis of Lampard’s debut season as manager, may we point you in the direction of Ram Srinivas’s superb in-depth piece that delves into the Derby data from 2018/19.
Will Lampard put his faith in youth?
Lampard made positive noises about Chelsea’s youth system in his first press conference and indeed he worked with two of the club’s academy products at Derby last season.
Midfielder Mason Mount and centre-back Fikayo Tomori, who joined on loan from Chelsea in the summer of 2018, made 44 and 35 Championship appearances respectively for the Rams, with both players playing a prominent part in the play-offs too.
Five of the six players who racked up the most minutes for Derby in the second tier were 24 or under at the start of the campaign, one of whom was 18-year-old full-back Jayden Bogle.
However, 32-year-old Richard Keogh was an ever-present at the heart of the defence and thirtysomethings Bradley Johnson, Craig Bryson, Scott Carson, and Tom Huddlestone all made at least 20 league starts.
Veteran Ashley Cole was also recruited in the January transfer window to add experience to the squad.
As a result, not one of Derby’s starting XIs featured in the top 50 youngest matchday line-ups of the 2018/19 Championship season.
To paraphrase Alan Partridge, it will probably be evolution and not revolution at the Bridge next year as Lampard looks to bed in a few young prospects with the future in mind while retaining a senior core of players in the first team.
Indeed, in his press conference, Lampard said:
On one hand, trying to develop young players, I think that’s really important, but at the same time, I want to work with the experienced players. I want players that, whether you’re 18 years of age or 32 years of age, you feel like Chelsea’s your club.
If we talk about losing Eden Hazard, yes we can understand that. But at the same time, we also have a very strong squad of players and I don’t want to talk down this squad because there is huge talent there. A team that managed to come third last year in the Premier League and managed to win the Europa League. We haven’t been decimated, we haven’t lost players from everywhere, we still have a very strong squad.
How Did Lampard’s Derby Compare With Sarri’s Chelsea?
While any statistical comparison between a Championship club and a side in the top flight is to be taken with a pinch of salt, it is worth looking at various underlying statistics to see how Derby County and Chelsea fared in 2018/19 – particularly as both teams were somewhere towards the top of their respective divisions.
|Team||Goals||Shots||Shots on target||Shots in the box||Big chances||Shot accuracy||Goal conversion||Avg possession|
Above: Underlying attacking stats for Derby and Chelsea in 2018/19 (including play-offs). All figures given bar shot accuracy, goal conversion and average possession are per game.
Chelsea bettered Derby for most of the key performance indicators listed above, although the Rams were more clinical with their chances.
What is illustrated here is just how many times Derby’s players chanced their arm from distance: 47.9% of their shots were from outside the box, a higher percentage than any other Premiership or Championship club.
Derby’s midfielders and forwards seem to have been actively encouraged by Lampard to try long-range efforts. No Championship player registered more attempts or goals from outside the box than Harry Wilson last season.
That may lead to more shots for the likes of Willian, Barkley and Loftus-Cheek, should a similar mentality be adopted at Stamford Bridge. Only 37.7% of Chelsea’s attempts were from outside the box in 2018/19.
As a result of this shoot-on-sight approach, the quality of opportunities was a concern. Derby’s rate of 1.45 big chances per game was bettered by 16 Premier League clubs in 2018/19.
Reading were the only second-tier club to have fewer shots in the six-yard box than Derby (31) last season.
|Team||Goals conceded||Clean sheets||Shots conceded||Shots on target conceded||Shots in the box conceded||Big chances conceded|
Above: Underlying defensive stats for Derby and Chelsea in 2018/19 (including play-offs). All figures given are per game.
Chelsea outperformed Derby on the defensive front, with the Rams only recording 11 clean sheets in their 49 league and play-off matches: the Blues managed five more shut-outs in ten fewer games.
There was a very similar number of big chances conceded by both sides on average per game, although Derby were more prone to allowing shots in the box.
Did Lampard Make an Improvement at Derby on 2017/18?
In the season before Lampard’s appointment, Derby finished sixth in the Championship – exactly where they did in 2018/19.
The Rams gained one point fewer under Lampard than they did under Gary Rowett, with their rate of goals (1.51 v 1.48) almost identical across the league and play-off matches in both campaigns.
Rowett’s Derby conceded at a rate of 1.04 goals per game, compared to 1.20 under Lampard.
Interestingly, Derby kept almost double the number of clean sheets under Rowett (20) – who was criticised in some quarters for his dour tactics – than they managed under Lampard (11).
The new Chelsea boss showed more attacking ambition than his predecessor at Pride Park, with Derby averaging 13.33 shots per game under Lampard compared to 11.81 under Rowett.
Lampard’s Rams did average more shots in the box per match than Rowett’s rather less exciting side (6.96 v 6.65) although there wasn’t a great deal in it as County repeatedly let fly from distance in the season just gone.
How Does Lampard Handle The Press?
Lampard has always come across as fairly intelligent and polite as a player and pundit and those traits are again evident as a manager.
12th Ram said:
If you had half an eye on the Championship last season you would have heard all about Bielsa, Leeds and Spygate! Lampard carried himself incredibly well throughout it and rarely lost face.
In post-match interviews when we’d lost he’d be visibly angry but that’s what you want to see from the boss.
One of his big positives is his levelheadedness and professionalism with the media, as you’d expect from someone who’s been in the limelight for so many years.
What we FPL managers really want from him as Chelsea boss is clear and unequivocal quotes on the Blues’ injury situation.
According to 12th Ram, the prospects look good on that front:
He’s pretty upfront regarding injury news which will be a boost to Fantasy players. Can’t remember too many times where he’s been tricky in this regard.
There is understandable caution about Lampard’s appointment given his inexperience at managerial level and the weaknesses that were apparent at Derby last season.
Nevertheless, it should be stressed that 2018/19 was as much a transitional year for the Rams as it was a learning curve for Lampard himself.
The then-County boss had to move several senior high-earners on early in his tenure and instil a completely different footballing ethos to the one his players were used to under the dour Rowett.
Any defensive frailties of his preferred style and formation would, you’d think, be helped no end by having Kante – rather than Tom Huddlestone or Bradley Johnson – to call upon in front of the back four in 2019/20.
It may well be that next season is a similarly transitional one for Chelsea that 2018/19 was for Derby, as Lampard begins the long-term process of integrating academy products into the first-team set-up and trying to coach “Sarri-ball” out of the senior players already at his disposal.
Should Chelsea’s transfer ban be upheld, Lampard would also be unable to recruit the exact type of player he is looking for to prosper in his system.
Pre-season will be an interesting watch, then, while the matches against Manchester United and Leicester City in Gameweeks 1 and 2 might be decent auditions if many of us are still to be convinced that the cut-price FPL options in Chelsea’s squad are as good as they seem.
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