Frank Lampard, to put it simply is going to go down as a Chelsea legend. Purchased by the club in 2001, he has gone on to break almost every club record & remains an integral part of the team coming into the closing stages of this season where we find ourselves competing in 2 cup competitions and fighting to secure Champions League football next season.
He will be remembered for alot of things and I’m sure if you asked any Chelsea fan outside the Bridge on a saturday afternoon they’d tell you something different, albeit the fact he has 200 goals for Chelsea, his 95 caps for England or his 164 consectutive appearences for the club from his debut in 2001. Everyone has a story about Frank. We see pictures on Twitter of him with fans after the games or if he’s been seen out and about in London. Not only is he a great footballer, but he is a very nice and clever bloke and understands the world outside playing football.
But all this aside we find ourselves in a position where we could indeed be saying ‘Goodbye’ to Frank in May. His contract situation has rumbled on now for the best part of a year and I think we’ve all been guilty (Lampard included) on saying “Well I’ve got ‘x’ amount of months left, lets see what happens” Now he’s got a matter of weeks left and has been free to talk to other clubs since January with no movement from the board to secure his services, even for another year (something that Ashley Cole no longer needs to worry about) Now everyone’s opinion will differ on this and I’m sure I will raise a few eyebrows with what I’m about to write. Let us all remember that we all think we’re experts on the matter, yet we’ve been told nothing. We dont know if Frank has demanded anything ridiculous. We dont know Romans’ input to all this and we certainly dont know what the board are thinking (When do we ever?!)
It is my opinion that he will leave. I think he has dreamt up this grand finale so-to-speak of securing Champions League football, winning another FA Cup (his 5th) & winning the Europa League for the club. If he can break Bobby Tamblings record too I’m sure he’ll be delighted. I know for a fact we are all willing him on in that respect. However, what Frank represents now is the old guard. Reliable – yes, consistant – not so much. But he can still deliver the goods if he’s managed right. The problem is here is that with Benitez, yes he’s rotated but one can only imagine that his relationship with the ‘Interim one’ is somewhat not what it was with the likes of Mourinho or Anchelotti. It seems with Benitez it’s very much like you’re told what HE WANTS (Not what he’d like) and if you dont like it then so-be-it. Frank it seems, (Along with JT, Cech, Ash & Didier) have always been used to perhaps having more of a forthright opinion on things and over the last year or so that has slowly been taken away from them. Strong personalities need managing correctly because 9 times out of 10 they’re needed. Benitez has shown that its not necessarily the case anymore. Its says alot when John Terry still can’t get in the team even when Gaz Cahill is injured (vs Sunderland). I think we all appreciate what Terry in particular has done for this football club. The years of literally putting his body on the line has taken its toll. The same can be said for Frank and he has been so consistant for so long, perhaps he’s just not able to keep up in a system that now supports Mata, Hazard & Oscar and as painful it might be to read, I wouldn’t drop any of those 3 to fit Frank in.
The other thing that ‘MIGHT’ be happening here is that Roman actually wants rid. Don’t get me wrong, their working relationship has been strong. I remember fondly Frank, Roman & JT coming up to us at Bolton in 2005 after securing the league. They looked like triumphant bank robbers who’d just got anyway with their haul, but things change. Shevchenko, Ballack and if we’re to believe the hype, a certain Mr Torres have been put down as vainty buys purely because the owner ‘wanted’ them in the team. Frank doesn’t fit in with this (He will easily go down as Ranieri’s best purchase) but this doesn’t help the fans because we’re all left wondering where he’ll end up and what actually has been said in the corridors of power over the past 12 months.
Which begs the hypothetical question of where he might end up plying his trade next season. Again, we all have an opinion but I think he’ll go to America. I think commercially it suits him and he’ll look upon the success of David Beckham and clearly see an opportunity over there to exploit. What may sway his decision ishe’ll want to prolong his England career, being away from his kids & how Christine Bleakley sees things. The nightmare scenario is that he’ll turn up at Manchester United. Sir Alex has a habit of managing his older players and managing them well and he’ll know Frank’s experience (especially on European nights) will be invaluable. Utd will also, as difficult as it is to write, be always on the hunt for trophies and challenging at the right end of the table which will appeal.
As usual, its not easy being a Chelsea fan. But its why we a family. Our love for this club runs deeper than people can sometimes comprehend. Losing Frank would be a bitter pill to swallow, but ask yourself this; Would we rather lose him on a free but have him leaving as an FA Cup winner, Europa League winner & record goal scorer? Or have him stay, sat on the bench and giving us 20 minutes at the end of a game and fail to find any rythem and get slaughtered for not playing well??
I know which option I’d take everytime and I hate saying goodbye.
You can follow me on twitter -> @_Chrishamilton