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Posted by Phil Lythell on 07/11/2012

While the furore surrounding John Terry's date in court dominates the headlines, a notable admission from Roberto Di Matteo has caught this blog's eye.

Chelsea’s new permanent manager conducted his first press conference since signing his two-year contract earlier this week and he was keen to stress that the lynchpin of Chelsea’s golden era still had a future at Stamford Bridge. Frank Lampard is here to stay and that can only be a good thing.

“Frank is a very fit man,” said Di Matteo. “As long as he doesn’t get injured he can play for many years. He’s been very influential towards the end of the season. He made some key passes and he performed very well.

“At a certain age of course he will need a longer recovery time. I don’t see any problems with him going on. The club will make the decision with Frank but certainly he’ll be here next season.”

The days of the midfield maestro being ostracised by Andre Villas-Boas are consigned to history. Images of him marshalling his team mates during backs-to-the-wall performances in the Champions League against Bayern Munich and Barcelona as well as injecting the necessary urgency into eye-catching FA Cup wins over Tottenham and Liverpool are much fresher in the memory. Lampard has adapted well to the demands of a deeper role, a versatility that appears to have secured his immediate future at the club with an array of younger players taking up the mantle in more advanced positions.

The arrival of Eden Hazard and Marko Marin has certainly set the pulse racing especially with Juan Mata expected to be even more influential following an excellent debut season in England. Should Brazilian wonderkid Oscar also join the ranks, as has been touted by newspapers and websites throughout the land, then Di Matteo will be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting his creative outlets come matchday especially with Kevin De Bruyne and Lucas Piazon providing further competition for places. But with this influx of youth, there is always the concern that naivety can undermine even the most precocious of talents. That is where Frank comes in. His wealth of experience at the top level will prove invaluable to the stability of performances and his Premier League savvy will ease the frustrations of the younger players when the ball is not bouncing their way.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Di Matteo’s assertions are the thoughts of Roman Abramovich. It can be safely assumed that the Russian was reluctant to appoint Di Matteo as manager with his affections fixed on Pep Guardiola but with the Italian now in place we can be equally confident in assuming that part of his remit is to oversee the phasing out of the older players while ushering in a new era. It would be interesting to know whether Abramovich is of the same opinion that Lampard ‘can play for many years’ when a vibrant new team is principally what he is seeking. Ultimately, however, it will be up to the player himself to determine his future with his lucrative contract due to expire at the end of next season. Should he turn in a sufficient amount of impressive performances – and looking at his career to date there is no reason to think that he won’t – then he may well persuade Abramovich to keep him on the playing staff.

The only reason that Lampard’s future is even up for debate is the fact that he has just turned 34 years old – a time when footballers usually begin drawing their metaphorical pension. But then Lampard is not your average 34-year-old. ‘Big Fat Frank’ - as his detractors used to call him – is anything but and his incredible fitness record at Chelsea is blighted only by an injury that kept him out of the first few months of the 2010-11 season. His 164 consecutive appearances between October 2001 and December 2005 is still a Premier League record for an outfield player and even more impressive when you consider that he is a dynamic central midfielder with supposed weight issues.

Lampard’s longevity at the sharp end of the Premier League and Champions League has even earned him grudging praise from rival fans and doubters in recent months. Indeed it was notable that the knock that ruled him out of England’s Euro 2012 squad was met almost universally with dismay as opposed to the gleeful partisanship that would have been expected in years gone by. In the past many have thought him to be no more than an above-average player who was the fortunate beneficiary of playing in a Chelsea squad containing some of the world’s elite. They do not think that anymore. Several years ago, I remember talking to the football editor of a website not a million miles away from here who was adamant that Lampard was overrated. With the midfielder consistently delivering in the years since that conversation, it would be interesting to see if his standpoint still holds.

In my opinion, Frank Lampard is the greatest player in the history of Chelsea Football Club. Gianfranco Zola and Arjen Robben may have possessed more technical ability; Kerry Dixon and Bobby Tambling might have scored more goals (though that may yet change); Ron Harris and Peter Bonetti have made more appearances. But I would argue that nobody has had a greater influence on the team during the club’s most successful period since its formation in 1905. Three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups and, of course, the Champions League sit alongside 186 goals and countless assists in 558 appearances for the European Champions.

If anyone deserves the faith of the owner, the management and the fans, it is Frank Lampard.


You can read more of Phil's opinions at ShoutyAndSpitty.com or on Twitter @PhilLythell

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Comments

Posted by dimo on 07/11/2012

Very true. You have spoken well.

Posted by Nathan on 07/11/2012

Frank is a person who should get more respect than he does, how many midfielders can put up 10 plus goal seasons since the 03-04 season. He will always be symbol of excellence at Chelsea. I feel Gerrard should have gotten more blame than Lampard during Englands run of bad performances.

Posted by Todd-Chelsea-and-Frank-fan on 07/11/2012

Agree whole heartedly a genuine Chelsea Football Club Legend, I dread the day he no longer puts on the blue of Chelsea, Thanks for everything Super Franky Lampard!

Posted by Ebong owonam on 07/11/2012

Frank is one of d best guru,keep moving man!

Posted by DennylXIV on 07/12/2012

Great frankie LAMPARD is a legend in chelsea and my role model. He make me love chelsea and i hope to play or even train with him one because he always serious with games wether big or not. May he end his career in chelsea football club......GREAT FRANK......GREAT CHELSEA......BEST TEAM IN EUROPE.

Posted by uzoma paulinus on 07/12/2012

lampard is a chelsea lagend..he have contributed enough in all our success..he set ramires through 4 the goal agaist allmighty barcalona... We love u frank.......

Posted by joseph sakala on 07/12/2012

Lampard has been great and we really appreciate but we have no any but to let our midfield scoring...to me super FRANKIE is best of all chelsea's player!he should follow the steps made by DROGBA!its now time make money.all the best of lucky!
Cech,ivanovic cahill luiz a.cole...ramires our holding midfielder.attacking mata hazard oscar and marko marin supporting elnino up front

Posted by komolafe Ariyo Oluwaseun on 07/12/2012

Indeed lampard has done a great job in chelsea, is a mentor, he has leadership quality. To me lampard is the best midfider in the world, no midfider in the world has scored goals like lampard. looking at lampard records in chelsea, you discover that he contributed great in chelsea jersey. my wish for him( Lampard) is to hang is bouts in chelsea and join their staff. As i always call him Lamppy, go for more titles this season. UP CHELSEA!!!.

Posted by Pat on 07/12/2012

Super frank is d best midfider at chelsea...I will lyk him 2 follow drogba foot steps

Posted by ogaldemn on 07/12/2012

lampard is withot doubt the best man to have donned the blues......rue the day he leaves....

Posted by sam on 07/12/2012

the least talented and over hyped CM i have ever seen

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Not seen many then......

Posted by laskeji on 07/13/2012

Franky is the greatest of all the midfielders that had grace the game in English football. It will be hard for any midfielder in EPL to meet your record. I hope Chelsea fans continue to appreciate You. Legend you are & Living Legend u continue to be. Chelsea till i rapture!

Posted by Johnson Uzoma on 07/13/2012

I haven't seen a midfielder play with such grace and composure. lampard is a living legend and will always be. You are one of the reasons i fell in love with this amazing club. With lampard Chelsea can bring down any team. I hope to enjoy more of your goalscoring and assists.

Posted by howard on 07/13/2012

frank lampard is one of the greatest midfielder in europe.He may not have any flair but he is an effective and efficient player.

Posted by Mane on 07/14/2012

indeed!
Super Frank!

Posted by oscar jakarta on 07/14/2012

good article, the greatest mistake avb make is write lampard off. don't ever ever write great players off. they still have the magic touch. can't wait next season to see lampard magic touch n chelsea glory

Posted by Sunday on 07/14/2012

Lampard ned 2 b play regularly so dat chelsea cn be wining dia matches

Posted by Xzecute on 07/14/2012

Chelsea fan here. I personally think that Didier Drogba has been more influential than Frank in this most successful period of Chelsea's history and rather than helping that in a way Frank has been holding us back.

Who's been at least partially responsible for Frank's great scoring record? Drogba! For a long time since Drogba arrived, Chelsea's policy has been "long ball to Drogba who knocks back or holds it up for Frank or someone else to score?

That doesn't detract from the fact that he's an absolutely marvelous midfielder with great vision, marvelous long passing and shooting ability and great with set pieces as well.

However, I'm adamant that Frank has denied himself his true destiny of being compared to greats like Zinedine Zidane by forsaking his midfield provider role and stealing goals from strikers.

Why do you think so many prolific strikers come to Chelsea and dry up? Our key midfielders like Frank don't give them e telling final ball, they take the shot themselves.

Posted by Xzecute on 07/14/2012

Drogba only scored a bucket of goals when we had midfielders that were real professionals behind him not glory-hunters like Ballack and Deco, or when he was played with a second striker (Anelka) who would pass as well as score.

If you think I'm wrong, he stats speak for themselves. Where else would you find a major team where a central midfielder has 11 league goals and 5 assists? But the two strikers ahead of him only scored 5 & 6 goals respectively.

Thats why Torres was so disheartened and sick of playing in Chelsea and trying to break the Terry-Lampard mafia's control of the team.

Note that Chelsea only won the champions league when Frank was forced to play deeper by the coach, almost alongside Mikel. He was forced to play like a real midfielder and his passes were absolutely superb.

If he'd been playing as a creative midfielder all these years Chelsea would have won more trophies and recouped their massive investment in so many strikers including Crespo, Kezman, Sheva.

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Looking at the stats, as you suggest, would say that Drogba's first PL golden boot came in 2006-7 when Ballack AND Frank played behind him. His second came in 2009-10 when Deco AND Frank played behind him. Also, the amount of assists that Lampard has racked up and particularly for Drogba - is rather large (17 in 2009-10 in the PL alone) so I'm not sure I agree with you.

Posted by Xzecute on 07/14/2012

The only reason Drogba managed to half-achieve his potential in this system is that he's an absolute beast, super-strong, completely dominant yet at the same time surprisingly unselfish, willing to play in defense, midfield, cross from the wings and pass back to midfield to score even when in attack.

If he had received the kind of service strikers get in more natural teams, Drogba would be a living legend of the EPL. Not that he isn't already but I have to say that he's not achieved his full potential, we haven't seen the real Didi.

Just watch footage from his Marseille career and realize the phenomenon we had on our team. Sorry to say but if he was at Man Utd or Arsenal where the team supports the strikers not the other way round I suspect Drogba would have been as prolific as Ruud.

And even with these constraints look what he achieved! Telling goals in countless finals, manhandling the toughest defenders in the England/Europe, scaring the pants off the opposition in EPL & CL.

Posted by Xzecute on 07/14/2012

That's why I think Didier Drogba is the key player in Chelsea's most successful period of history, the true great Chelsea player. Why? He played for the team! Not for himself!

And although I think Lampard is a phenom, in cheating and strangling so many strikers careers, I believe he's denied himself the opportunity to come into his own as a genuine English Zidane or (dare I say it) Xavi Hernandez.

Again if you think I'm wrong I ask you a question and respond as honestly as you can, no sentiment. If it had been Frank in Ramires' position in the CL semi first leg against Barca, would he have passed to Drogba or gone for it himself, even if Drogba was in a better position?

Again, now he's playing deeper, what's happened for the rest of the team? Critical goals get scored. The attack is not starved!

Too late to say it but Frank, stop deceiving the armchair pundits we call the sporting press, stop trying to be Steven Gerrard and become a professional, unselfish, creative MIDFIELDER.

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OK, now you are just being silly. I've already pointed out your fabrication of the facts in a previous comment. Regarding the Barca match, Lampard robbed Messi and started the move that led to Drogba's goal. In Camp Nou he created the goal for Ramires. If you disagree with me then fine, no problem with that as we all have our own opinions. But it reflects on you negatively when you assume events or make things up to support your argument.

Posted by valentine chindove on 07/15/2012

i think Lampard has done a great job at Chelsea and has been providing the much needed confidence to the team with his vision,leadership and goalscoring abilities.would lyk to see him retire at Chelsea.no one can ever undermine wat he has done and achieved for chelsea.SUPER FRANKY.....CHELSEA TILL WE DIE!!!!!!

Posted by al amin on 07/15/2012

any tym i think about chelsea super frankie wil b my 1st thouth he is a man with gr8 respect, responsibility and genious. Lampard is indeed a lagend and he will always b, and i hop he will spend d rest of his carear in stanford bridg. And 4 d new recruitment dey hav no regret of coming long live

Posted by CHUKWUNONSO UDEH on 07/15/2012

I call him Engineer Lampard and after the Champions League triumph, I now call him Professor Lampard. Did you see the pass that sent Ramirez through iin the secong leg against Barcelona? Professonial stuff. Yes

Posted by Emman on 07/16/2012

U have spoken well. Frank is a fantastic player in d world. I love him.

Posted by Xzecute on 07/16/2012

Fabricaton of the facts?! What were Chelsea's EPL scoring stats for last season? 5 goals for Drogba, 6 for Torres, 13 assists for Mata, 11 goals for Lampard... but only 5 assists! Why do you think Spain is playing so well but truly great strikers come to Cheslea and dry up?

And sorry if I didn't make myself clear, I meant that Didi made golden boot when real professionals were behind him, not Lamps the Gerrard-Hotshot Hamish wannabe.

And by real professionals I meant Ballack and Deco. You buttressed my point yourself when you mentioned that Didi made EPL top scorer when Ballack & Frank, then Deco & Frank were playing behind him.

See, what happened was that Lamps started this behavior and got used to it while JM was in charge. JM didn't care where the goals came from and encouraged that behavior.

Soon enough most midfield players under JM except the best professionals learnt to shoot rather than pass to CF, even when in absurd positions. Essien, Malouda I'm looking at you.

Posted by Xzecute on 07/16/2012

Phil, I'm really incensed at this fabrication of the facts nonsense. Check his career stats below and remember he's a CM not a CF.

Appears I was wrong, he started the bad behavior even before he arrived at Chelsea. Compare to Xavi 680 apps 77 goals 160 assists possibly one of greatest CM's ever. Publish if *you* can admit you were wrong.

In truth it's much worse than I thought, I've never really looked at his career stats apart from last season's. I was just talking from what I could see on TV year after year.

West ham season before Chelsea move 37. 9. 1. A central midfielder.

Apps Goals Assists
Swansea 1995–96 9 1 —
Total 9 1 —
West Ham United 1995–96 1 0 —
1996–97 16 0 —
1997–98 42 10 —
1998–99 41 6 —
1999–00 49 14 —
2000–01 37 9 1
Total 186 39 1
Chelsea
2001–02 53. 7. 3
2002–03 48. 8. 2
2003–04 56. 15. 6
2004-5 58. 19. 16
2005-6 50. 20. 9
2006-7 62. 21. 15
2007-8 40. 20. 11
2008-9 58. 20. 19
2009-10 50. 27. 20
2010-11 32. 13. 6
2011-12 49. 16.
Chelsea Total 558. 186. 118

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Does it really matter who scores the goals if the team succeeds? Can you not accept that players are different? Do you really think that Xavi and Frank are the same?

Look at those stats and tell me that is not impressive for any player let alone a midfielder. For you to criticise him is bizarre but is your choice so fair enough.

One other thing: if you compare Xavi's and Frank's stats that you provided you will see that Frank has been directly involved in 304 goals as compared to Xavi's 237 - and Frank has played more than a hundred fewer games.

In any case, stats alone do not define a player. Plenty of other attributes such as work rate will not be illustrated by these statisitcs.

Posted by Xzecute on 07/16/2012

FACT 1: Frank Lampard CENTRAL MIDFIELDER, consistently assisted less than he scored for Chelsea, almost every single season. Imagine all the wasted attempts it took him to get those 10 to 20 goals a season.

How did he get so good shooting from distance? Lots and lots of practice! All at the expense of the expensive, emasculated strikers playing in front of him.

And people wondered why Chelsea was a striker's graveyard... it was Frank's personal playground! Everyone including the English "sporting" press was too starstruck with the goals to see what he was doing to the team by being selfish. Maybe cos the strikers weren't English.

It would be a good idea for you to actually analyze the incontrovertible FACTS, Phil.

FACT 2: Frank the central midfielder averaged only 2 assists for every 3 goals he scored in a Chelsea shirt.

Yet he only scored 10 to 20 goals a season, while some of the costliest strikers in history hit career lows and got ridiculed for barely scoring goals at all.

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What school of thought suggests that midfielders must provide more assist than goals? So if he scored less goals but the same amount of assists then you would be happier because his ratio would be better? In any case, when you have scored the amount of goals that Frank has then a 3:2 ratio is incredibly impressive!

As for these 'great' strikers that have been ruined: Shevchencko could barely outrun a snail and some of Torres' all round play - let alone finishing - since he joined the club has been awful. It has improved hugely in the last six months of last season which is fantastic but it is absurd to blame somebody pivotal to the success of the club throughout the last decade for the sub-standard performances of another by claiming he scores too many goals.

Posted by Xzecute on 07/16/2012

When did Chelsea get the reputation of being dour, boring, barely scoring, joyless, grinding through wins? When the midfielders stopped passing and started trying to score. When the strikers couldn't score because they didn't get service.

When did they shed that reputation and even break attacking football records, albeit briefly? When Ballack, Deco were in their best form for Chelsea and the Drog was top scorer.

When did Drog become top scorer? And Anelka? While Ballack and Deco were there.

When did Chelsea return to being grinders? When Ballack and Deco left, and it was up to Frank to supply the strikers.

It matters Phil, because Chelsea's strikers were always better at scoring than Lamps. They would have given us more goals. They would have turned more losses to draws, more draws to wins for us. They just never got enough of a chance to do it with Frank behind them, with nobody correcting this spoilt child.

He never realized "if the team wins I win as well, not vice versa."

-----------

The team were only labelled boring during the JM era when we won our first two titles in 50 years! Only the easily brainwashed believed those assertions at the time yet it has now passed into established 'fact'. In one of those years Chelsea set a points record of 95 points - hardly boring - and I think a certain midfielder may well have scored the two goals that clinched the first of those titles!

And if Ballack was so influential (an I am a big fan of his, by the way), why did we not win the title in three of the four years that he was at the club?

I shall sign off from this conversation as I am perplexed by your opinion that only strikers should score goals and that midfielders are there only to serve. Something tells me we are not going to see eye-to-eye on this subject!

However, you are entitled to your opinion and I welcome your comments no matter how much I might disagree with them.

All the best,

Phil

Posted by Xzecute on 07/16/2012

Yeah you're probably right we won't see eye to eye on this but appreciate your responses.

Just upset because we've never really seen what Chelsea can do or be because I believe so many great strikers, Drogba included, have been stifled.

Even worse I think Lampard has cheated himself because he's truly something special but his approach to the game - like many English players - has been rather simplistic.

I'm the greatest if I bang in the most. No you're not! Not if you're a midfielder. The greatest midfielders in recent history provide, give, receive, pass exquisitely AND score the critical goals. Zidane, Xavi, Pirlo, Iniesta, maybe even Silva.

With all their great scoring achievements why are Gerrard and Lampard not mentioned in the same breath as these? Have the English press ever wondered why?

Mark my words Phil, move Lampard back closer to Mikel or drop him altogether and replace with someone who knows how to think and pass and see what Chelsea becomes. You'll be shocked.

Posted by Xzecute on 08/16/2012

Sorry to return to this item Phil but I recently mentioned to a colleague at work (Arsenal fan) that I posted some comments on a Chelsea-related blog.

Before I got any further do you know what he said? "Chelsea? Striker's graveyard!" I actually used those exact words in one of my posts so I asked him if he had read the blog or my posts and he said no, surprisingly.

I asked him why he thought it was a striker's graveyard, do you know what his response was? "Frank Lampard" Honestly, I kid you not!

I've held that belief for a very long time but your blog was the first place I mentioned it, and this is the first time I heard someone else say so.

Anyway so I googled the term Chelsea strikers graveyard and got some interesting results, including a John Brewin ESPN article in May. No one else blaming Frank though.

And to be honest its not entirely his fault. The system permits him to play the way he does. If it were Arsenal for example, he would probably have become a passing maestro.

---------------

He sounds like a jealous Arsenal fan!

Seriously though, there probably is some truth in that point though I would still argue that Frank's goal return has compensated adequately.

Think we might see that side of his game diminish slightly now that he will be forced into a deeper role with the arrivals of Hazard, Oscar and Marin. And if it mean Torres can finally flourish and the team succeeds I will be more than happy.

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About
Phil Lythell Phil Lythell is a Chelsea season ticket holder and lifelong Blues supporter stretching back to the sepia-tinted days of Kerry Dixon and Pat Nevin. Author of Chelsea-centric blog ShoutyandSpitty.com, Phil has spent his entire life living within a 20 minute walk of Stamford Bridge which has cost him a fortune but has also kept him from those interminable queues outside Fulham Broadway Station giving him more time in the pub to discuss the latest glorious/calamitous/insipid match.

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