Who would have guessed? A rookie manager walks into the English Premier League, picks up a team that is unable to sign players for the new season (in fact he sells a few senior ones, leaving behind a much younger squad than the one he met), and is somehow not battling relegation. Yes, I’m talking about Frank Lampard and Chelsea. They are currently just outside the top four positions and look like they have started kicking into gear.
A transfer ban on a team like Chelsea should feel like the end of the world, because of their reputation of always buying someone (whether they need them or not…if it’s a shiny object, they are buying it). However, this ban forces the club to take a look at the pool of loan players they have been stockpiling for years. It even gave the club the sense that a lot of those players were ripe to sell (just like they did with Lukaku and De Bruyne years ago). The likes of Kalas, Omeruo, Aina, and Palmer were moved on for good sums while the transfer of Eden Hazard added a huge paycheck to the London club.
I’m not going to lie; Tammy Abraham is a Championship striker in my eyes. That’s the level he has done well in and the step-up to become a Premier League forward, let alone the main forward for a club like Chelsea, seems too far for me. 6 goals in 5 games has not changed that. Apart from Manchester United, Chelsea have not faced top opposition. However, I am impressed that Abraham has started scoring this early. It shows the manager’s faith is not misplaced. Maybe he could shock a few people this year. His story could go a bit like Harry Kane’s. Kane did well in the lower leagues for the likes of Leyton Orient, Millwall and Leicester City before flopping at Norwich in the Premier League. Back at Tottenham after all that, and look where he is now. Abraham’s stint at Swansea in the Premier League was forgettable. He’s on his way to turning it around.
Mason Mount is the most naturally-gifted British footballer you will ever see. His touch on the ball is magnificent and his energy is infectious. For me, he is a bigger revelation than Tammy Abraham so far this season. He looks like he’s been in the Chelsea’s first team squad for years. He took little time to displace Barkley from the starting lineup and now he looks to be the go-to guy for creating chances and maybe even scoring them. The goal against Wolves on Saturday showed his immense confidence and composure; what a player he could turn out to be. I’m very sure that the chance to coach him was the main reason Lampard took the risk to take the Chelsea job.
Speaking of Lampard, he is looking the part of a dream Chelsea manager. Everyone loves the idea of having a former playing legend at the helm of their club. Everyone. Solkjaer at Man United has given the whole club a new buzz. Zidane took Real Madrid to new heights in his first stint and Guardiola will always be the dream having dominated world club football in his time at Barcelona. Lampard is a unique case though. His appointment was timely as it was necessary. No sane manager would take a high-pressure job like that and be unable to sign players. You need someone who knows the club inside out; especially someone with a knowledge of the young players there. Who better than a guy who spent 13 years at the club and loaned 2 players from the reserve team for his first managerial job? Plus, his assistant is someone who actually coached these youngsters in their formative stages. For me, the jury is still out on Lampard. He has a lot to prove in his time at Chelsea. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the Champions’ League and against the top teams in England. So far, he’s working some kind of magic; I mean, take a look at that strike from Tomori against Wolves. Someone taught him that.
Chelsea might have their transfer ban cut short, allowing them to go after signings in January. But after watching what they already have at their disposal, I don’t think they need to rush that part just yet. There is something there, and it’s already fun to watch.