Lampard v Arteta is reignited and some respect is put on Milner and McTominay’s names

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Mikel Arteta and Frank Lampard Credit: PA Images
Mikel Arteta and Frank Lampard Credit: PA Images

It might be time to revise those embedded opinions on Frank Lampard, who at least exists on a par with Mikel Arteta and Steven Gerrard.

Send your views to theeditor@football365.com

 

Lamp shade
I was a little surprised to see how much venom was reserved for Frank Lampard in your early summer mood review piece, especially with you going as far as to call him a fraud. This seems to follow a wider trend, amongst both F365 writers and contributors, of dismissing his achievements and amplifying his failures. As such I figured it’s worth reviewing what I see to be the stand out features of his managerial career so far to gain an insight into why he attracts so much criticism.

Development of young players: There’s been a lot of revisionism about the role he played in developing the Chelsea academy graduates, particularly with Mason Mount (who was being referred to as a Teacher’s Pet until the moment of Lampard’s dismissal). Players such as Reece James, Mason Mount, Harry Wilson (at Derby), Fikayo Tomori, Tammy Abraham and Anthony Gordon all benefitted greatly from Lampard’s trust. Promotion of youth seems to be a common theme across his three managerial roles to date, which coupled with Everton having one of the stronger academies in the Premier League, leads you to believe he’ll leave them in a stronger state than when he arrived.

Club progression: A common criticism of Lampard is that he hasn’t improved teams he managed, merely had them tread water; steering Derby from 6th to 6th , Chelsea from 3rd to 4th and Everton from 16th to 16th . Fair enough, these don’t look overly impressive on the face of it. Isn’t this a fairly neutral point rather than mark against him though, continuing from where the last manager left off? At Derby and Chelsea he was succeeding managers who moved on to other jobs voluntarily, while notably transforming Chelsea’s squad on account of a transfer ban and loss of their star player. Even at Everton, where he initially struggled to reverse their nosedive, he was able to oversee a strong finish to the campaign, where he played at least a small part in energising the fanbase to levels unseen since the 80s.

Everton boss Lampard Credit: PA Images
Everton boss Lampard Credit: PA Images

On that last point the post season review for Everton in the Athletic was very positive about his reign so far, with the writer (and Everton supporter) referring to Lampard as “embedding himself in the culture and history of the club. His stock on Merseyside continues to soar”. I’d certainly welcome the views of prominent mailbox Evertonians like TX BIll and Fat Man Scouse to see if that view is shared by other supporters.

Organising a defence: Still far from perfect, however he seems to be acknowledging this weakness. Recruiting Paul Clement as one of his assistants is a good start, while the change in shape and grittier performances in April & May show he is capable of adapting. It will be interesting to see if he can stop Michael Keane and Jonjoe Kenny from constantly dropping a bollock next season though, assuming both remain at the club.

Despite the scorn he attracts and his absence of managerial silverware I don’t consider him to be below the other younger managers in the top flight (Arteta and Gerrard); each of them are far from perfect, have defined strengths and notable weaknesses and it’ll be interesting to see which of them performs best against expectations this coming season. Much like Arsenal fans with Arteta, if the supporters themselves are satisfied with the job the manager is doing then who are we as outsiders to tell them they’re wrong?
Kevin, Nottingham

 

Another transfer Saka
Given Man City’s understandable yet seemingly out of the blue interest in Bukayo Saka, it would be interesting to see if Pep Guardiola has lined up the Arsenal youngster as a solution to the club’s left back issue. Bearing in mind part-time City left back custodian, Oleksandr Zinchenko, plays in a far more advanced position for his country, it would not be too much of a shock if there was a similar plan for Saka. Having played at left back previously, Saka is certainly both young enough and talented enough to be remoulded so that a permanent role as a forward-thinking left back could become his preferred position. Guardiola certainly has form for the inventive repositioning of players, with Philipp Lahm and Joao Cancelo offering evidence of successful transitions to other parts of the pitch. If Saka were to successfully revert to playing predominantly as a left-back, it could even be of great benefit to England, with fitness issues hanging over the likes of Luke Shaw and Ben Chillwell and almost every other English full back fighting for the berth on the other side of the field.

From an Arsenal perspective, it would certainly be a huge loss, but not one that couldn’t be negated. While Saka has spearheaded the Gunners’ attack throughout the past 18 months, the likes of Martinelli, Smith-Rowe, Ødegaard and Nketiah are likely to continue to develop. So, the requirement for reinforcements in other positions could take precedence. With two years to run on Saka’s contract, Arsenal could expect a substantial windfall and replacing Lacazette should be the number one priority. Said substantial windfall could assist in prizing Gabriel Jesus from City and it would not be beyond the realms of imagination to see Raheem Sterling embark on the same journey south. Such moves could suit all parties involved and, if these swap deals were to fail to materialise, other centre-forward options such as Victor Osimhen or Darwin Núñez could become more viable for Arsenal with a considerable fee incoming.

Whether problem positions for each of Man City, Arsenal and England could be resolved with Saka’s transfer and potential reinvention remains to be seen, but it is certainly an interesting if speculative proposition.
AC in Milan

 

F365 hates James Milner
Eeeh, I’ve been reading F365 since I was a teenager. Dim, distant days. So long ago, that Jonny Nic wrote about football and music and sold t-shirts.

I started reading about the time a teenage kid called Jamie Milner (just a few months younger than me) made his Leeds debut.

So this line made me laugh.

“And it has felt as though there has been a growing respect for James Milner as his career continued.”

Growing respect for James Milner? Who didn’t respect him?

Leeds fans loved him.

Villa fans and Newcastle fans respected his application and work ethic.

City fans thought he was a cracker.

Liverpool fans appreciated the effort he put in every week.

So who didn’t respect him? Man United fans? Fair enough. You can’t play for us, City and Liverpool and expect that lot to like you. But it’s not them who had a problem.

A quick Google search of a certain website and his name gives you lots of lovely allegories. “Like a colander.” “Like a spatula” “Useful, like a toilet brush. But also getting less appetising over time. Like a toilet brush.”

Unfortunately I couldn’t find the one England match report that stuck with me. The one that described him as “a man doggedly doing lengths while everyone in the pool is doing a synchronised swimming routine.”

A wide midfielder, staying wide? Makes you sick, doesn’t it?

There could be a bumper length Mediawatch about the lack of respect this one particular outlet has shown a f**king good player for the best part of 20 years.

Glad to see that it finally feels like there’s a growing respect for James Milner as his career’s continued though. Maybe if you’d looked outside your own offices, you’d have spotted it before now.
Andy N

 

Spill the McT
So I thought I would drop a few thoughts on Scott McTominay, specifically around his valuation

Now, even as a United fan, I agree that him being the 8th most valuable DM is pretty laughable… there are probably eight better ones than him in the Premier League alone.

However, my gripe is more with the constant abuse he gets, not necessarily from F365, but more from certain sections of United fans. Is he the second coming of Keane, or peak Vieira? Absolutely not. However, he is a more than decent player, who has reasonable technique and an excellent level of professionalism. Throw in his versatility, athleticism, a few goals a season and low maintenance/comparatively low salary, and he is exactly the sort of player United have previously used as squad players for successful sides.

The best example in my eyes of this sort of player was John O’Shea – he was never really first choice, but was always reliable when called upon, and went on to become a bit of a cult hero (megged Figo and the chip vs. Arsenal are iconic moments for me), as well as racking up close to 400 appearances and five league titles. Now I don’t expect McTominay to enjoy that level of success in a poor United side, but I would argue he is a symptom, rather than a cause, of our decline.
Jack (That being said, would be very happy if we started to look seriously at Bissouma) Manchester

 

Hammer it home
In response to Mike at WHU
, Sullivan and Gold have agreed an option to sell the club to kretinsky at a fixed price for post march 2023 which will mean they don’t need to pay a fee to the stadium owners.

Clearly sullivan and gold are not gonna put their own money into the club as long as this option is on the table as its a fixed purchase price, so they won’t get it back.

Similarly kretinsky won’t invest in the club until he’s a full owner -see kroenkes at arsenal who only invested once they got the Russian shareholder out.
James

 

Anthem anathema
The continuing nonsense around Alexander-Arnold and not singing / respecting the dirge that is the national anthem reminds me of London 2012 when Piers Fking Morgan tried to create a Twitter storm around Chris Hoy and then Brad Wiggins not singing the anthem on the podium following their gold medal exploits, as if it was a crappy ITV singing contest he was judging. The hard work, professionalism and years of dedication had gone into the events themselves and standing on the podium was a chance to reflect on all that had gone before, the sacrifices, the support from l family friends and coaches, the unbelievable achievements. Not belting out a crappy song in deference to a weird hereditary monarchy so as not to upset media loudmouths (sorry I’m going a bit John Nic here).

It’s really depressing that we’re here again 10 years later, feels like such a Tory culture war prove your patriotism you lot in Liverpool hate the establishment bollocks. We should all be above that and just ignore it surely?

I can only really compare it to when I was dragged to church every Sunday as a kid. I couldn’t sing a note so either half heartedly mimed the hymns to appease my mum or just kept my head down in “silent reflection”. Maybe TAA just can’t sing??

No wonder it seems he can’t really be arsed with the England circus, wouldn’t blame him for sacking it off as it seems like no fun at all.
Martin, Peckham

 

Dear Sarn Smith,

It’s not about “alliegnce to country” with the national anthem. It’s about the fact it is “God Save the Queen”. Some of us believe God isn’t real and that the Queen’s role is ridiculous. Much like we wouldn’t want to swear loyalty to a Kim Jong Un despot.
I’m a proud Brit who doesn’t like the national anthem. I suspect Trent is the same and perhaps he’d sing the National Anthem if it was something worth singing.
Rob, Guangzhou (can’t believe I’m defending a Liverpool player, need to shower now)

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