A contribution piece from James Smith
To say there’s been unrest at Stamford Bridge over the last couple of years would be an understatement. We’ve seen club legends depart, taking their invaluable leadership qualities with them, a flurry of poor signings and the tenures of Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri sparking huge debate among the Chelsea faithful.
It feels like Chelsea were starting to lose their identity which made them so successful over the last two decades.
But are we now starting to rediscover the Chelsea that the fans fell in love with?
The Chelsea teams of 2004-12 had something special about them that made sure they kept on winning trophies. There was a desire among every single player to play for Chelsea and only Chelsea.
The likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Petr Čech, all had opportunities to leave Stamford Bridge and move to one of Europe’s traditionally bigger teams. But they stayed and formed a team spirit and bond that kept the squad winning, despite the revolving door of managers in full effect.
That squad had the full support of the fans because we knew they loved Chelsea and didn’t have their eyes set on anywhere else. We had a spine that we could rely on and trust for years.
In the last 4-5 seasons, we’ve seen club legends in Lampard, Cech, Drogba & Terry all depart the club, taking with them a decade of experience and success that has never properly been replaced. They were players who would give everything for the badge, who wouldn’t give up and would run until they couldn’t run anymore.
Maybe you don’t find players like that very often, but with Lampard back as Head Coach, the revival of the Chelsea we once knew, could be coming back.
“I want to work with the experienced players first and I want people here who want to be here. I played with fantastic players who felt the club. My idea is not just to work with 18 or 32 year olds, it is to build the best squad.”– Lampard speaking at his first press conference as Chelsea Head Coach
Lampard is tasked with rebuilding the club and taking them through the transfer ban, and he’s doing it the only way he knows how, and the way it was done when he was a player. He wants people at the club who want to be here, who want to fight, who want to earn their place. That’s essential to creating a competitive and successful environment. It’s something that has been lost over the last few years, with too many players happy to sit around and collect their wages. That will change with Lampard.
We’ve already seen this be put into action, with new five-year deals for academy graduates Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount crucial to Lampard’s ideas going forward. Having the passion to play for Chelsea is so important, and that’s starting to return as more deserving young players are integrated into the first-team setup. These are young players with the quality to play for the club but who crucially have a winning mentality that’s been developed as they’ve risen through the ranks at Chelsea.
This idea of wanting to play for Chelsea doesn’t mean just promoting youth, it also means buying. But buying players who choose Chelsea, and who want to make a lasting impact on the club. Lampard demands that from every player. If you don’t want to be here, you can go. He’s beginning to create that cohesive atmosphere around the club, where everyone wants to work for each other and succeed as a group.
It’s not just Lampard who demands this though. It’s Jody Morris. It’s Joe Edwards. It’s Chris Jones. It’s Eddie Newton. It’s Petr Cech. It’s Chelsea. The club wants to remain competitive, and Lampard is instilling this mentality from the outset.
In the clips that the club have been showing on their various social media platforms, it’s clear that there’s already much more positive energy around the club. Players seem happier, they seem ready and willing to do anything for their new manager. Chelsea is being rejuvenated and rediscovered with Lampard at the helm.
This is a new era for the club. We’ve drifted off the pace in recent years, but we’ll be back, we always are.
It’s a Chelsea thing.
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