By Rob Shepherd.
A new season but Frank Lampard was straight back in the old routine scoring a goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 opening day win over Hull. And to think earlier this year Chelsea had been prepared to let him walk out the door and end his career in the USA.
Having surpassed Bobby Tamblings’s record of 202 goals for the Blues last season Lampard hit his 204th with a stunning Ronaldoesque 35 yard free kick and that just a few minutes after having a penalty saved.
It obviously enthused Jose Mourinho that Chelsea will get back into the old routine they established when he was manager last time around and win the title as they did in the first season of that previous reign.
Back to the future ?
That is the Chelsea’s plan and why one of the first things Mourinho did before agreeing to come back to the club was to persuade Lampard to stay on for another season.
It can be revealed by BOBBY that having not been offered a suitable deal by the club at the turn of the year Lampard was on the verge of an agreement to take him to the MSL, with LA Galaxy.
But in March, when the deal to bring Mourinho back to Chelsea from Real Madrid was in an advanced stage, Jose still wanted to iron out a few issues. One of which was to offer Lampard the sort of one year deal that would make him stay.
A source close to Lampard told me recently: “Frank was all set to go to the States with Galaxy but then he got a text message from Jose telling him he was on the way back and urging him to stay. Jose wanted his experience and his goals. He worked hard on him and Frank couldn’t resist.”
The traditional man management skills Mourinho learned from the late Bobby Robson are one of his greatest assets. It’s how he gets key players on side and straight away Chelsea hit the ground running with Lampard back in the groove, old school routine even you might say.
If ever a contemporary player is a throwback to a previous era then Lampard surely is, especially in the sense he is more like an old fashioned inside forward (a ‘number 10’ or ‘number 8’) than what has become the more restricted role of most conventional central midfielders.
Perhaps that is partly due to the fact he inherits a strong DNA from his father Frank who was a West Ham legend in the seventies and eighties; he plays with a more thoughtful less rushed style of that era and his attitude and respect towards the spirit of the soccer reflects his understanding of the game’s history.
When he was first coming through the ranks at West Ham he was referred to as Frank junior, because at the time his dad was still THE Frank and also assistant manager (and brother in law) to Harry Redknapp. Now of course young Frank is now plain Frank, while the old man is known as Frank senior.
It is incredible now to reflect not long after he emerged into the West Ham first team following a short spell on loan to Swansea, he became the subject of an increasing barrage of criticism from short-sighted West Ham supporters.
Essentially the allegation was that Lampard was only in the team because of nepotism.
An exchange at a fans forum where Redknapp had to defend Lampard’s ability (Harry is young Frank’s uncle) now looks plain ridiculous and exposes those West Ham fans who branded him ‘Fat Frank’ as, well, thick. (click on the below link)
Since his £11 million move to Chelsea in 2001 Lampard, still in fine physical shape at 35, has become an all-time Chelsea legend, one of Premier League ‘Platinum’ and is just two short of 100 England caps.
Not bad for a kid who couldn’t play.
For the record: Matt Holland did bounce back with Ipswich and Charlton, playing for the Republic of Ireland at the 2002 World Cup. Scott Canham drifted on from Brentford, played for Orient then did a tour of non-league clubs ending up at Thurrock. He is now manager of Aveley who play in the Isthmian League.
Coming soon to BobbyFC: Frank Talking with Frank Lampard Snr and Frank Lampard Jr.