Frank Lampard: Assessing the Chelsea Midfielder's Role Under Jose Mourinho
When Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea after a five-year absence, it seemed an age since he had been sitting in the dugout at Stamford Bridge. At the same time, however, once Mourinho walked out to take his place against Hull, there was almost a feeling that the Portuguese had never left.
When we looked at the lineup for that match, that feeling was confirmed. Although much had changed, there were still those familiar names—John Terry, Frank Lampard and Petr Cech—who had become the key core of the team during Mourinho's successful first reign at the Bridge.
Since Mourinho left the club, we saw a shift in control, and players like Terry and Lampard were no longer such important features of the squad and indeed were not even guaranteed a starting place anymore.
Lampard in particular suffered a crisis of confidence when, despite his good performances and record-breaking scoring, it appeared as though he would not be offered a contract extension.
However, the vice-captain eventually re-signed and returned to continue his legacy at Stamford Bridge.
So what does Lampard's future look like under Mourinho?
If the first two Premier League matches are anything to go by, the answer to that question is positive. In just two matches, Lampard has played 180 minutes, scoring one stunning goal and setting up Branislav Ivanovic's game-winner against Aston Villa.
Although Lampard, 35, is not quite as fit as he used to be, he is still in relatively good condition for his age. He might not be able to manage the 50-plus games a season that he used to play, but his new, slightly deeper role in midfield is allowing him to have an impact on this Premier League campaign already.
We do not know yet whether Lampard will get a starting place against Manchester United Monday, but it would be a surprise if he was omitted. Mourinho himself had something to say about Lampard's role this season, via Jack De Menezes of The Independent:
He is not 25 anymore, so the crazy Lamps that wants to play every minute of a Carling Cup match against a team from the Championship, the crazy Frank that wants to play and beat the record of appearances and play every minute every match is not here anymore. It’s about to keep his performance high for the most time we can, for the most seasons we can.
What this indicates is that, as suspected, Lampard has a strong future with Chelsea under Mourinho. And as suspected, it will be about limiting unnecessary performances in order to keep him healthy for the more important matches.
Lampard may be 35, but under the management of Mourinho, he is sure to have plenty more quality years left in him.
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