As we approach another international break Chelsea fans will be looking at their side’s performances so far this season and wonder what can be done to improve their mixed form.
One player that has received a lot of stick recently is veteran midfielder Frank Lampard as fans criticise Jose Mourinho’s insistence on playing the 35-year-old in a role that doesn’t suit him every week.
It’s an odd debate to have as Lampard has won it all with the Blues and is the all-time top goal scorer at Stamford Bridge but there does come a point when he will become detrimental to the team and I’d argue that Mourinho’s use of him is detrimental to Lampard.
When he’s played in a deeper role previously his accuracy hasn’t been good enough but he has a respectable pass completion of 84% and the average length of them are 20 metres long but he’s not adept at covering fullbacks when they join the attacks and doesn’t put in or win anywhere near the amount of tackles he should.
Perhaps it’s just a case of less is more at this stage of his career as Roberto Di Matteo would often rest the midfielder in order to keep him sharp and Rafael Benitez continued this trend, and despite a turbulent 2012/13 season Lampard achieved his goal record at Chelsea and done so in an important victory over Aston Villa as his side went on to secure third place and win the Europa League.
However, I would say that it is perhaps about a little bit more than merely resting and rotating him in and out of the first XI, I’d argue that he should be coming on late in games and in a more attacking role that he’s been asked to fulfil so far. Mourinho did this to good effect in the 3-0 win over Schalke when Lamps came on in Oscar’s position and made a lovely cushioned pass to assist Demba Ba for the third and final goal.
He isn’t ever going to be a first choice attacking midfielder with Oscar, Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Willian and Andre Schurrle in the team but when Lampard plays I want to see him attacking and as goals have been a regular feature of his game throughout his career he may well be the man you’d look towards in the case of an emergency. As it is, he is playing in a role that doesn’t suit him and is getting panned because he’s struggling there, but it’s not down to him and Mourinho must recognise that he isn’t getting the most of a player that only has one goal so far this season.
Is it time to adapt Lampard’s role and position at Chelsea during this stage of his career?