Frank Lampard highlights £622m Chelsea error Mauricio Pochettino and Todd Boehly must solve
Frank Lampard’s candor reflects poorly on the Blues, and not only the new owners.
Manchester City has been setting the standard for how to run a football club for over a decade and is reaping the benefits, and then some, with their current success. As Chelsea prepares to travel to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday as huge underdogs, it demonstrates where the Blues have gone wrong.
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City has won five titles since Chelsea’s previous one in 2017. In 2012, the score was 3-0 in Chelsea’s favor, and the Mancunians are one win away from winning 6-5. The first club has been run like a merciless, efficient machine on its path to complete dominance, whereas the second has not.
It is worth mentioning at this point that there is a discussion to be had about Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s financial backing of the team and the impact it has had on the Premier League’s competitiveness.
At Chelsea, Roman Abramovich financed many of the errors and wrote off the £1.5 billion bottom line when he put the club up for sale last year. Chelsea’s blunders under the Russians injured them on the field, but they had a minimal financial impact.
The same can be said for City right now. If a player is not working, they can sell them without hesitation. Arsenal and Tottenham cannot do the same. This is an argument that can and will rage for a long time.
This has no bearing on how well they have performed on the field. City, whether with huge funds and effectively riskless or not, has made a decade’s worth of solid decisions. Their management decisions have been correct; every coach from 2012 to the present has won the league.
Chelsea has had nine head managers in the same period – not counting temporary positions – and just two of them have won the league. City didn’t qualify for the Champions League until 2010, but they’re on track to cut Chelsea’s lead in half if Inter Milan does the unthinkable in Istanbul next month.
That is to say, transitions occur. Manchester City were not always this dominant force, but they have now been consistently good for nearly a decade. During the decade, the other top six rivals saw temporary drops or recoveries.
Manchester United hasn’t made a meaningful push for more than one year in a row since 2013. Arsenal has unexpectedly returned this season, but Liverpool is suffering despite their return to the top table. Chelsea has been there or thereabouts, but now faces a rebuilding project that has been in the works for some time.
However, there is little need to be in this situation. If City may be strongly chastised for spending money and succeeding, Chelsea’s expenditure and relative success is just embarrassing. Since 2018, no team has spent more on transfers than the Blues.
Although net spending is not the be-all and end-all, it does show the magnitude of wastefulness. Their £622.5m is roughly three times that of Manchester City. This is in addition to the £100 million deal of Eden Hazard. Manchester United has been just as sloppy, but with less to show for it.
Chelsea has won the Champions League, been in the top four for all but one year – this one – and reached countless cup finals. Only Liverpool and City can match their achievements, although given the degree of spending (the Reds at £246.9m net), it’s worth wondering how sustainable the inability was.
In modern football, there is no such thing. Their outdated tactics were blown out of the water as more and more teams shifted to data-driven models and longer-term, director of football run approaches. The city had been preparing for Guardiola’s arrival for nearly six years before he arrived.
When he fell short in his first season, City did not panic. City brought in overpaid players he didn’t like and bent the club his way. Guardiola is the club to some extent, and vice versa; the same thing happened at Anfield with Jurgen Klopp. Management is the identity, and correcting the loss in performance was a matter of obtaining the right tools rather than replacing the worker.
Chelsea continued to do the opposite, and they should have learned their lesson by now if prior years hadn’t made them realize how far they had fallen. These things begin at the top, and Abramovich never established a system capable of matching the levels of his competitors.
“They are, in my opinion, the best team in the world.” Is it beneficial to English football? Sure, why not? When questioned if the levels established were healthy for the competition, Lampard responded, “You have to push the league standards and others have to react to that.”
“We have this incredible brand here, where the league improves year after year in terms of the competitive nature of staying in the league, making the top four, and Manchester City has set the standards.”The rest of the league must strive to be that. It’s not simply because they’ve done things clinically and extremely well over a long period. If we remove our rivalry feelings, if you are a Manchester City adversary, you can’t help but be fascinated by the style of their game and how they play, especially after watching them the other night [against Real Madrid]. It was a joy to witness. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”
Chelsea was the gauge for standards and setting the record for so long. Modern football had gone on, and Chelsea had not kept up. However, a return to the top is not inconceivable, and Lampard is hesitant to be too straightforward in his imitation of City.
“I think it’s hard to call them a direct barometer because when you say set standards, that’s a casual look at it,” he said. “Standards must begin at the beginning.” For me, the standards are that every guy on that squad is trying to make the team, and the players understand that if they don’t have intensity and run, the next man will. That is something to focus on in terms of recruitment, squad building, and mental development. If that’s the barometer, we’ve got a lot of work to do here to get there.”
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It sends a strong message to the owners, who had a disastrous first year in the game. But, as City has demonstrated, making the right judgments is more important than spending the most money, even if the latter may assist to achieve things on a larger scale and with less risk.
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