Lampard’s debut season
2019/20, of course, marked Frank Lampard’s first season as Chelsea boss.
Despite being a club legend, the appointment of Lampard to said role under normal circumstances would likely have been viewed as a bit odd.
The Englishman had just one season of managerial experience under his belt before being offered the job, which obviously came in the Championship with Derby County.
However, the Blues’ transfer ban left the club in something of a precarious position, which actually played into Lampard’s hands.
With Eden Hazard off to Real Madrid and no new faces able to arrive in the summer, expectations on Lampard were very much low.
As a result, 2019/20 was something of a free hit for the young boss, and though he did a solid job, reaching an FA Cup final and finishing 4th, perhaps under normal circumstances some more questions may have been asked of Lampard and his Chelsea side.
In the forthcoming campaign, though, it is hard to see Lampard being afforded any sort of lowered bar.
Especially given the money spent and personal that have arrived at Stamford Bridge already this summer.
Lampard’s first marquee signing saw Chelsea agree a £33.3m fee for Ajax’s Hakim Ziyech in February.
Then, in June, Lampard and co. were able to beat off competition from Liverpool to secure the services of Timo Werner.
The 24-year-old was arguably the second-best forward in the Bundesliga last term, notching 34 goals and 13 assists across 45 outings.
Chelsea are understood to have paid an initial £45m for Werner.
The hitman’s arrival was then followed up by the signing of Thiago Silva on a free, Ben Chilwell for £50m and most recently, the addition of arguably Germany’s hottest prospect, Kai Havertz – whom Chelsea are said to have splashed an initial £71m on.
Chelsea’s summer business does not appear to be over either, with it reported recently that Rennes no.1 Eduardo Mendy had agreed a five-year contract with the Blues.
Chelsea need to start challenging for the Premier League
With these additions, it is hard to argue that Chelsea do not now have one of the top squads in the Premier League.
Up top, Lampard has all of Werner, Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud, Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and even potentially Havertz to choose from.
In midfield, the English tactician is once again faced with a welcomed selection headache.
Assuming Chelsea stick with a midfield-three for the majority of their games, Lampard can currently call upon Mason Mount, Havertz, Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante, Billy Gilmour, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Havertz and Ross Barkley for just three spots.
Granted, Chelsea’s defence isn’t as exciting, but the addition of Chilwell has helped solve the club’s left-back issue.
Reece James has also been coming on leaps and bounds of late and should be able to continue his fine form into 2020/21.
Centre-back is arguably the London outfit’s weakest spot. But the addition of veteran Thiago Silva should help to tighten up Chelsea’s defence – as should the arrival of Mendy.
So, with around £200m spent already and such a quality squad assembled, should Chelsea be challenging for the title this season?
Lampard himself moved to temper expectations of a title challenge last month, whilst Jamie Carragher believes it will be once again Liverpool and Manchester City battling it out for league supremacy in the forthcoming season.
The reality of the situation though, is Chelsea must be title challengers next year.
Yes, they did finish a whopping 33 points behind champions Liverpool and 15 off 2nd-place Manchester City last term.
But with the amount of already top talent Chelsea have brought in recently, that gap must be reduced dramatically.
Obviously, with so many new faces coming through the door at once, it may take some time for the squad to gel and for Lampard to find his best system/eleven.
But the fact remains if Chelsea were to finish 33 points behind next season’s champions, there will need to be questions asked.
Lampard’s standing with the club will likely buy him a bit more time than is normally handed to managers at the Bridge. But if titles and trophies are not forthcoming in the near future, it is hard to see Roman Abramovich persisting with Lampard.
That is by no means to say that Chelsea have to win the title this season and a case can certainly be made that the side, mainly at centre-back, still needs a few more additions.
However, Chelsea must be in the title race in 2020/21.