Under the spotlight: The issues Frank Lampard must address as Chelsea boss
Chelsea legend Frank Lampard has been appointed manager of the London club, taking over from Juventus-bound Maurizio Sarri.
Lampard arrives from Derby County and has many issues to sort out at Stamford Bridge, during his first role as a Premier League manager.
Lampard is a hero at Chelsea, the club’s record goalscorer and a Champions League winner. But will he sink or swim in the hotseat?
Here are the key points he needs to get right in his first few weeks as Blues boss.
Cope with the transfer ban
Unless an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport is successful, the Blues will not be able to sign any new players until the summer of 2020. The restriction will have major consequences Lampard he attempts to impose his preferred system while working with someone else's squad. USA winger Christian Pulisic - whose £58million transfer from Borussia Dortmund was agreed before the ban - will, at least, be one new face, with numerous returning loan players able to provide reinforcement.
Replace the irreplaceable
Replacing genuine world-class talent is difficult enough, without being constrained by a transfer embargo. Eden Hazard enjoyed his best Premier League season under Sarri. The Belgian scored 16 top-flight goals and contributed a league-high 15 assists, as well as being the star performer in the Europa League final win over Arsenal, before completing a big-money switch to Real Madrid. Lampard must somehow plug that sizeable gap with recruitment unlikely to be an option.
Square pegs round holes
The talisman behind two Premier League title wins, with Leicester and then the Blues, was reduced to a bit-part player under Sarri. World Cup winner Kante was shifted from the centre of midfield to make room for Jorginho but needs moving back to a role in which he excels, mopping up in front of the defence and break up play. Whether Jorginho, who was key to Sarri's plans but struggled to win over Blues fans following his move from Napoli, has a future in west London is another point for discussion.
Get the fans back onside
Sarri frequently endured jeers from supporters last season, including chants of "you don't know what you're doing". His tactics, team selections and substitutions proved unpopular and often frustrated the Blues faithful, as did his stubbornness. The Italian's initial reluctance to find starting places for England internationals Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek also contributed to the restlessness. Above all, fans want to see a motivated team playing attractive, attacking football. And with 'one of their own' now in charge the fans will certainly be backing Lampard.
...and the players
Sarri repeatedly voiced his frustration at struggling to inspire his team. "This group of players are extremely difficult to motivate," the 60-year-old complained after January's defeat to Arsenal. In the end, he did so sufficiently to win the Europa League - his first major trophy - and pip Tottenham to third place in the Premier League. Lampard will be keen to galvanise the squad early on and ensure they remain enthusiastic and interested.
Focus on youth
The significance of the transfer ban cannot be overstated. Fortunately, Chelsea have a surfeit of players on their books. Among the talent which could return to contention next season following temporary switches are Kurt Zouma, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Michy Batshuayi, who cost the club more than £80million combined. An abundance of academy graduates will also be aiming for first-team opportunities, including Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham. Tomori and Mount were both on-loan at Derby last season, so will be well known to the new boss.
Words: Jake Evans