Chelsea’s summer purge of players whose surname begins with an L gathered further momentum with the departure of our beloved Frank Lampard, following on from the exit of David Luiz. Watch out, Romelu Lukaku. You are almost certainly next, especially as you are being linked with just about every club, other than Chelsea, regrettably.
Meanwhile, the departing Lamps now takes his place on Chelsea’s imaginary Mount Rushmore of legends. He is definitely in the same company now as Bentley, Bonetti, Cech, Cole, Drogba, Harris, Hollins, Osgood, Tambling, Terry, Wise, and Zola. These are the long-serving players who contributed to success at Stamford Bridge over the course of several years, even though there are others who may have been more gifted, but who shone or stayed for a shorter time, for example Greaves, Gullit, Hughes, and Robben to name but a few. Chelsea followers could argue long into the next century about who are the greatest players in the club’s history, but presumably no such disagreement will occur over the choice of our best attacking midfielder, and indeed penalty taker.
However, I would like to get a couple of negative comments out of the way first of all. Firstly, I found Frank’s pointing up to Heaven after he scored some of his goals to be cringeworthy in the extreme. Lots of players, past and present, have lost a loved one, or parent, so this ritual of looking up to Mum is a bit embarrassing. Sorry, if that antagonises fellow Blues supporters, but I’m not going to be a nodding donkey who just has to fit in with the crowd.
Secondly, it would have been a lot more preferable if Frank had concluded any contract extension talks before the end of the recent season. It would have been so much better if he could have announced that he is leaving and that the supporters would not have been in the dark as to whether the last home match of the season would be his last home match for the club. Instead of which, we were all treated to protracted wrangling in which Lamps [or more likely his agent] probably tried to squeeze as much money out of the club as possible in any possible contract negotiations. Of course, Ashley will have attempted precisely the same, and yes this is the practice everywhere now between footballing heroes who try to screw their employers for ever-larger salaries which are already disproportionate and frankly an affront to the rest of us who have to struggle on much smaller handouts. I’m sorry, but these flawed but gifted people are not superhuman gods, and so any attempt to win a pay rise in contract talks meets with little sympathy from me. Why didn’t Frank just announce in the spring that he’s going and get a darn good send-off in the last couple of outings against Norwich and at Cardiff? The extortionate demands behind closed doors hurt the supporters the most, as it is the supporters who partially fund their ‘heroes’ by queuing in the rain and standing out in all weathers, hoping for the occasional brilliance.
Okay that is the rant over. I make no apologies for having a more balanced outlook on the beast that is 21st century football.
Back at the ranch, there are clearly a whole host of Lampard goals to choose from, but for me the Lampard moments that will live fondly in the memory are the following, in order of appearance:
1. Frank’s two goals at home to Bayern Munich in a 4-2 Champions League quarter-final triumph in 2005. [How did we ever lose to Liverpool after this?]
2. Frank’s brace of goals at Bolton Wanderers in April 2005 that ended fifty years of hurt and under-achievement. He was always the man for the big occasion!
3. Frank’s astonishing goal in the Nou Camp when he swivelled and lobbed Valdez from an acute angle. Pele or Maradona would have been proud of that one.
4. Frank’s trademark drilled shot and equalising goal at Everton in a 3-2 comeback win, followed by Drogba’s spectacular volley in late 2006.
5. His eye-catching left-footed drive in the FA Cup final against Everton. Not only did he slip beforehand, but the passes in that move all added up to a fine goal.
6. Frank’s successful penalty at hostile West Ham in 2009 after he was ordered twice to re-take his spot kick. He scored with all three efforts!
7. Frank’s second decisive goal at Shamfield in 2010 that left us only needing to win at home to Wigan to secure the league.
8. Frank’s one-two pass that put Ramires through for his outrageous goal in the semi final in the Nou Camp in 2012.
9. Frank’s characteristically cool finish from the penalty spot when we were trailing in the 2012 Champions League final penalty shoot-out.
10. Frank’s double at Villa Park in 2013 that took him finally beyond Bobby Tambling as the club’s leading scorer.
As for his future, well, if he does go to Manchester City for a brief stay en route to New York City, well good luck to him. Frank has stated that he does not wish to play against Chelsea, and there is no reason why he cannot insist on being omitted from any contest between Chelsea and the current champions of England. Besides, I don’t think that the ageing legend will get any more first-team starts at the Etihad than at the Bridge. If Barry, Lescott, and Milner are struggling to get into the team, what chance does Frank have? He may be merely a squad player oop north, unless he is granted an opportunity to play for Uncle Harry instead, in which case we all might see him finish his illustrious Premiership career with a final flourish for our horrible neighbours of QPR, but again I cannot begrudge him such a family reunion if he chooses that option.
It was also a pity that for a number of years, Frank’s immense contribution to the England cause did not merit the acclaim that it should have. However, Lamps was always unfavourably compared alongside the equally outstanding Steven Gerrard. Is it really necessary to compare them? Surely it is better to just appreciate them both. Instead I felt that Lamps would have been well justified to walk away from international duty at the end of the 2006 World Cup when he copped a lot of abuse, at a time when Chelsea-hatred was at its hysterical worst. We were after all back-to-back Premiership champions and even so-called England supporters struggled to cheer on JT, Ashley, and Frank. However, Lamps admirably persevered with England and he has belatedly come out of the tunnel of scorn. No doubt now that he has left Chelsea, national respect for him will be elevated sky-high. Surprise surprise.
After chasing the dollar in the Big Apple and gracing North America in the twilight of his career, I hope that Frank utilises his talent as an intelligent, well-spoken individual to articulate his views as a media football pundit. There are far too many Scouse apologists in the broadcasting media and it would be good to redress the balance if Lamps decides to join the same profession as his cousin. Alternatively, he might choose to go down the same coaching route as his cousin’s old man. Well, whatever he decides to do, Frank Lampard will go down in Chelsea history as pivotal to the club’s glory years in England and in Europe, and yes the acquisition of him for eleven million pounds was emphatically one of our better pieces of business!
[Finally, although there will only ever be one Frank Lampard junior, we do hope that a good replacement can be found for the considerable void that Lamps has vacated. There are strong rumours that Cesc Fabregas is on the cusp of joining a proper London club. I personally will forgive him for some of his anti-Chelsea remarks from yesteryear because let’s face it, if he is anything like the player that graced norf London, then it would be beautiful to rub Arse-nil’s noses in it and watch CF play for CFC and excel in west London, rather like his old team-mate, Ashley Cole. Come on Cesc. Jump on board. You’ve more chance of winning the Champions League at Chelsea than at Liverpool, Manchester City, or Manchester United combined]
[The author can be stalked at http://chelsea.thefootballnetwork.net]
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