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Lampard Caught Up in the Circle of Life, as Chelsea Begin to Shed their Skin

With Frank Lampard set to leave Chelsea when his contract expires at the end of the season, Tom Gatehouse looks at the reason why the Blues are letting him go.

Rafael Benitez, it seems, has drunk deeply from the poisoned chalice – one that he willingly poured himself. Quoted on Tuesday as the harbinger of the end of the Chelsea ‘old guard’, his words have been met with derision and a bitter resentment that all but sums up his time in the hot seat so far. Benitez said on the eve of yet another damning defeat to Swansea in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday:

“Everyone knows the legends have been here and what they have achieved but you have to see new players coming in. It’s part of life.”

“You have to think about the future and move forward, bring in new players and try, at the same time, to bring the best out of those you have.” Benitez said in the Independent.

These words will ring truest with Frank Lampard, who has seen his status as ‘untouchable legend’ take a dramatic turn for the worse. He now has the air of a man out to prove a point, not that his is a point that needs proving. A glittering career, littered with as many personal and team accolades that could be attained; Lampard has become one of the finest examples of the beautiful game in living memory. His recent exploits have seen him lead Chelsea to glory in Europe’s premier stage, and continue over into the new season with similar swashbuckling roles.

How then, ask the multitude of fans, players and pundits alike, can Chelsea justify not offering their living legend, who is on the verge of becoming their top ever goal-scorer (from midfield), a new contract?

Perhaps Benitez should have delved into the quote books, and presented such a statement as one Harold Wilson, ex-Prime Minister, delivered –

“He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.” (source)

It has been said ever since Carlo Ancelotti’s departure in 2011 that Chelsea are a team in transition. Transition is not an overnight sensation; it is a carefully constructed beast, with a multitude of cogs and parts, physical, and emotional. And this process is still young at the London club, even though the seeds have been well and truly sown for all to see. The aged front line of Malouda, Drogba and Anelka has been successfully phased out, and in its place, a vibrant, youthful and clinical array of stars are now terrorising defenders all over the country.

Clubs that look to revolutionise their playing style, and construct a new-look team, often start building from the back. But this is not the case at Chelsea. With some claiming that Chelsea won last season’s Champions league purely on the merits of their unbreachable defence (as well as a bit of luck), it seems that the backline is not in need of an overhaul. It is rather their attack that has seen an influx of new talent. Now all that’s left to address, logically, is their midfield.

Already with Ramires and now a reshuffled David Luiz, they have two young, vivacious Brazilian destroyers; one much akin to a terrier, the other a rabid sheepdog. So where does a 34 year old Lampard, so tuned to the old Chelsea playing style, fit into this new machine?

Take the case of Alessandro Del Piero. A stalwart if ever there was one, his 19 year dynasty was brought to an abrupt end as Juventus saw an opening for change. Fans of the ‘Old Lady’ were beside themselves with grief and anger at the news. None could fathom why the board had decided to dispense with their hero, a hero who had followed them down to Serie B following the 2006 match fixing scandal, and then led them to an undefeated 2011 top flight championship.

At 37, and his contract drawing to a close, it was time for a new era to begin. His work was done, in the eyes of the Juventus hierarchy. And have Juventus suffered in his absence? Not a bit. Oozing fast, exciting football, dark horses for the Champions league, and holding a five point lead in Serie A, Juventus are a team that have successfully completed a full footballing cycle. Del Piero’s exit was inevitable, despite the obvious melancholy. Change is often necessary, but correct timing and handling of it is even more vital.

Benitez understands this, saying:

“They (Chelsea’s older players) were so successful that now everybody can see only the players who won, but you have to see the new players coming and maybe winning in the future. It is difficult.” (source: The Guardian)

In Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, and Oscar, Chelsea have laid down the blueprints for a new system. The overpowering triumvirate of Lampard, Essien and Makelele that brought about so much success for the Blues is almost but a loving memory. Their power and physicality, with Drogba and Michael Ballack also fitting the bill, defined an era for Chelsea.

Now, armed with a new array of weapons, Chelsea’s minute trio are looking to usher in a new decade of dominance – which leaves Frank Lampard a beloved relic of times gone by.

As with Drogba, now with Lampard, and maybe even Ashley Cole and John Terry in the near future, sacrifices are part and parcel of change. We must praise Chelsea’s willingness at attempting to change an entire team’s heart and soul, rather than lambast them for the inevitable casualties that ensue.

We are looking at a situation not unlike a cocoon hatching into a butterfly; as the hunt for young blood continues to transform Chelsea from their rock solid foundations, into a beautiful, free flowing footballing entity. However, Chelsea fans will pray Roman and his millions ultimately forge something natural and prevalent, taking their beloved club away from the Frankenstein-esque muddle that Benitez oversaw against Swansea.

Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer

What do Chelsea fans think about the potential departure of Frank Lampard in the summer?



  1. wee fan

    January 13, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    unnecessary sentiment epistle, you failed to mentioned that Lampard cost the club £7milion yearly.
    Moreso, lampard contract does not read, ’till eternity, does it?
    When will player like josh come on, will lampard agree to not playing all the time, even matches he feels he should?
    I guess we’ll have more question than answer with lampard issue.
    A great servant of the club, thank you lampard

  2. Kevin

    January 17, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Chelsea always fans demand instant success. Like you state it doesnt happen over night. Also, just bcoz you change the team, its not always for the better! Lampard has been one of Chelsea’s best players this season and as one once said “you dont win nothing with kids”. Not true on that occasion, but such as the strength of the premier league now….you need some experience mixed in with talented youth players to be succesful. Lampard is a top class player and deserves to be shown more respect. #GREATARTICLE

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