Since Wednesday night’s game in the League Cup a good few articles have been published describing Frank Lampard’s apparent contract predicament as a ‘no brainer’ for Chelsea; we simply have no choice but to sign him up. Quite what these writers saw on Wednesday to draw such an adamant conclusion, I’m not sure. In fact if I saw any evidence then it pointed to the contrary. My best assumption would be that a romantic piece on how Frank ‘ran the game’ for Chelsea would’ve been nicer to write than a boring recount of how it was Juan Mata pulling all the strings, yet again.
The authors of these pieces give me the sad of impression of people that haven’t actually seen Chelsea play a game of football in a very long time. His performance against Leeds was described by some as ‘peerless’, ‘brilliant’ and impervious to Leeds’ initial antagonistic approach. Did anybody else think these things? At most I could say he gave an efficient and professional performance, but this is surely the bare minimum for any Premier League veteran of 34, let alone one of Frank’s talent.
I put in my last article in review of Lampard against Leeds that he looks “conspicuously out of place” in our new system. He’s still a solid all round player but his finishing is truly the only aspect of his game that remains remarkable, judging him by the exceptionally high standards he’s set for himself. It’s a shame but it is evident there is no position in a narrow 4-2-3-1 that gives him the opportunity to make the most of his finishing ability. He can’t justifiably be selected ahead of Oscar or Mata as a #10 in the front 3, and whilst he could become a Paul Scholes-like figure in the centre of midfield, playing long passes, a considerable amount of time would be required for him to perfect that role (in which he’s never played). Can any level-headed person here however make a case that this time wouldn’t be better spent being given to McEachran or Romeu or Ramires than a 34 year old, irrespective of his status?
Probably the most convincing argument Chelsea have for signing Frank up for another 18 or 30 months is what he can contribute off the field as a leader, and as a symbol of what the club has achieved. He may be invaluable in this respect, indeed whenever a new signing gives his first interview as a Chelsea player, to train with Frank Lampard is a pleasure they almost invariably mention. It’s more than understandable; he’s a role model, an inspiration and it’s easy to imagine a great teacher, to every young player at the club.
However, as fans, is this really what we want to see? Our Frank Lampard, club and goal scoring legend reduced to a motivational speaking mascot on the subs bench every week. For me at least the thought of him making millions playing in Los Angeles or Dubai is far more satisfying. As is the idea of David Luiz and Juan Mata stepping up in his absence to become leaders of the team.
So ultimately, I guess I’m in agreement with these journalists that the situation is a no-brainer for Chelsea, it’s time to part ways with Frank Lampard. We’ll give him a hero’s send off. We’ll sing his name for 90 minutes in the last game of the season; we’ll make our touching YouTube compilations of his goals and we’ll speculate, then largely agree he was our greatest ever player (just as we did with Drogba last season). Nobody could be more deserving of such tributes and nobody could be less deserving of having their career fizzle out because of sentimental reasons, which is exactly what will happen should any extension be signed.
It would be pointless now not to write about Ashley Cole’s contract situation as well. Especially given how little needs to be said on the matter. Over almost ten years under Roman Abramovich we’ve made some questionable decisions to say the least. Sacking Jose Mourinho, spending over £80million on two declining strikers, not to mention the Gael Kakuta, John Terry and Mark Clattenburg affairs etc. But, in my opinion to let Ashley Cole leave Chelsea as a free agent this summer would be the single most stupid decision the club has made for years and years. The fact that it is even a relevant topic for discussion is ludicrous.
The man is without question, one of, if not the best left back in the world and it should be perfectly clear that he is physically fit enough to maintain that position for at least another two years. Ryan Bertrand is talented and looks promising but would be a massive and drastic step down in quality from Cole if he was to immediately replace him as first choice left back in the summer.
There’s no point being coy about it, practically all of us are desperate to sign Radamel Falcao in January, possibly amongst other names. After the Colombian however, in my opinion Ashley Cole is the best possible signing we could make this January and as far as I can see, unforgivable levels of stupidity and carelessness are the only things that could prevent that from happening.