Frank Lampard’s Chelsea legacy of blooding youth will benefit his successors for years to come

Simon Collings
·3-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Frank Lampard does not have any trophies to show for his time at Chelsea, but it may turn out that his legacy is developing young players so his successor can challenge for honours.

Critics of Lampard will point to Chelsea’s poor form this season as to why he had to go, with the former midfielder’s points per game average of 1.67 the fourth lowest of any permanent manager in the club’s Premier League history.

The Blues also shipped, on average, 1.35 goals per game under Lampard - the worst record in the club’s top-flight history.

They are damning statistics, and ones that most likely led to Lampard’s sacking, but during his 18 months at Chelsea he has laid the foundations for future managers to succeed.

The 42-year-old blooded youngsters like Mason Mount, Reece James and Tammy Abraham during his tenure, providing them with an amount of game time unseen at Chelsea before.

In total, Lampard gave 12,545 minutes to players aged 21 or younger in the Premier League during his spell as manager, more than any other club over the same period.

Abraham and Mount are undoubtedly the two biggest beneficiaries of that and the best examples of its success.

At the start of last season, when Lampard had just been appointed, Abraham had never made a League start at Chelsea and only played 53 minutes. He would finish the campaign with 18 goals to his name and as the Blues’ top scorer.

Lampard has blooded several young players during his time at Chelsea.Pool via REUTERS
Lampard has blooded several young players during his time at Chelsea.Pool via REUTERS

Mount too had never played in the Premier League before Lampard arrived and now he has racked up over 80 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions.

In that time the midfielder has claimed 10 assists and scored 11 goals, all before his 22nd birthday.

Right-back James also has plenty to thank Lampard for, making his England debut under his guidance and appearing over 50 times for Chelsea.

Lampard was, of course, able to blood those players as he took charge at Stamford Bridge in 2019 at the perfect moment.

With a transfer ban in place, and Chelsea having sold Eden Hazard, the pressure was off and Lampard got time to develop youngsters.

The former midfielder, however, deserves credit for seizing that opportunity and maximising it to the full. Other bosses surely wouldn’t have done so.

In the short term, you could argue that it damaged Lampard as this is still a young team developing. They have not been able to sustain a title challenge - or even a top-four one at this rate - but they have been given valuable experience.

That will stand whoever replaces Lampard - which looks like it will be Thomas Tuchel - in very good stead.

He will be inheriting a Chelsea squad packed with young players, but youngsters who have already cut their teeth and are much further along in their development than when Lampard was appointed in 2019.

And that is probably Lampard’s biggest legacy from his time at Chelsea. It is a not a trophy, or a top-four finish, but the fact he gave youth a chance at Stamford Bridge.

No one before him has done that, and you suspect few after will do, too, given they won’t get the opportunity he had last season.

Nonetheless, Lampard deserves credit for that and it may not be until a few years’ time that the work he did is fully appreciated.

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