Frank Lampard is Chelsea’s all-time top goal scorer; he was the Captain in Munich, and ten years ago he was probably the best midfielder in the world. He is rightly revered amongst the Blues of a West London inclination, and dare I say beginning to be amongst those of Manchester. It would be no exaggeration to say that he is the greatest goal-poaching midfielder the game has ever produced. And he gave 13-years to Chelsea.
And he keeps giving, even at the venerable age of 36. Except now he does it for Man City – by common consensus our title-rivals…
This has been a cause of understandable angst amongst the Stamford Bridge faithful. To see our hero play for Man City, let alone score goals, let alone score against us, is heart-rending for many. However, I don’t feel that way about Lampard at City. Of course, it pains me to see City succeed since I am desperate for the Premier League title to return to SW6. But seeing Lampard succeed is different and heart-warming.
Now Lampard has left Chelsea, which was going to happen eventually, I think Chelsea fans should look upon him as a man and not a partisan idol. Consequently, allow me to ‘exonerate’ his presence in Sky Blue by making a few salient points.
Firstly, football players always want to stay at the top of their game for as long as possible. They are professionals who need to be valued by a football club in order to win a contract and make a living. Eventually, they will have to retire and make a living some other way (hopefully writing childrens’ books won’t keep him from Chelsea too long.) Who are we to criticise his move to City when he has given us the best years of his career (200+ goals)? Who are we to gnash our teeth as Lampard gets his last pay days from the coffers of Manchester and New York City? People seem to forget that despite astronomical wages, football players do not have forty/fifty year careers like we do. They have to hoover up the acres of readily available cash while they can. I suspect Frank wouldn’t score too many in his 50’s.
Football players do get paid incredible amounts, most of which is taxed, but so do A-List movie stars. We don’t wail at Judi Dench when she makes a different type of movie do we? Once Lampard had left Chelsea did we expect a player of his class to choose to fade into obscurity and remain nothing but a golden figure in our memories? Football players are professionals first and foremost and that simple fact ought to be respected – particularly in Lampard’s case, and particularly since he has given us so much joy.
Should Mourinho have let him go? I think there are valid reasons for letting Lampard leave.
- If he were still with us he would be consuming wages which could/should be spent on new players – on the future of the club. Furthermore, given how well we are doing without him, those wages would be wasted. His replacement in the team is effectively Fabregas, a player who I’m sure we can all agree is more than suitable. A 36-year-old Lampard does not get into our midfield with Matic and Fabregas. Admittedly, he would probably be a useful back-up, but provide only a few of the qualities that Matic and Fabregas possess.
- Another plus from Lampard’s departure is the chance it gives to our undoubtedly talented Academy graduates. For me, the importance of bringing through our own players is barely second to winning trophies. It’s the ultimate ideal: a League-winning, European Cup-winning team of Chelsea graduates. We want our own golden generation a la Man Utd ‘94. We want our own La Masia. Lampard remaining would only get in the way of that cherished dream. Besides, he’ll probably be back training our Youth Team once he’s done milking whatever other clubs he plays for before then.
What about the damage he has done and will do to our title hopes?
I believe that the League title has been in our own hands from Gameday One. It is down to what we do which will decide the title and not the machinations of a 36-year-old playing for City. To think that one man can have that kind of effect on our long-term title prospects is a typical misconception of most football fans. It’s like saying that City would not have won that game against Leicester without Lampard. They probably would have. It’s like moaning about a penalty decision which wasn’t given – the assumption being that the penalty would have been scored and three points accrued. Remember that the penalty has to first be scored and the game continue without incident thereafter. It’s the kind of counter-factual speculation that pundits, fans and commentators indulge in all too readily as an easy point of debate.
Lampard equalised against us in Manchester, so we should not complain about Frank, but Ivanovic’s defending. We of all teams should have been alive to his ability to score. City currently have no fit strikers and have been winning games with James Milner up front! So much for Aguero being the difference. Ultimately, a Premier League season is made up of 38 games, not 37 minutes from a 36-year-old and a handful of his goals.
When Lampard scores for City, I don’t groan I smile. Each time he does he proves all the doubters wrong all over again. Every goal he scores for City is a slap in the face for all those preposterous West Ham fans who called him fat. Each time he bulges the net he indisputably proves his greatness to all those who questioned his quality. The world now knows that Frank Lampard is not just a hallowed Chelsea legend, due for footballing sainthood, but a bona fide English legend full stop.
If Frank was your favourite player until he joined City then I say shame on you. Put down your blue-tinted glasses and see the man: the greatest player Chelsea ever had.