One of the things that makes Chelsea from Frank Lampard so attractive is how simply he made it feel.
His management is based entirely on common sense. The drama and confusion that Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri have accompanied so often for him has disappeared. Lampard’s Chelsea reboot was clean, clear and decisive.
So surprising to read something that was buried in Lampard’s extensive interview with Jamie Redknapp on these pages on Saturday that nevertheless jumped off the page.
Frank Lampard admitted that Mason Mount could have borrowed before the transfer ban
Asked if the recent transfer ban from Chelsea had influenced his decisions about club academics last summer, Lampard said, “Would Mason Mount have been on loan again this year?” Possible. Probably. Fikayo Tomori would certainly have done it. “
Instead, Mount 22 of Chelsea’s Premier League games has started, while Tomori has started 14. Both have been fundamental to a progressive Chelsea season and both have – as a result – played for England. They have been part of what has made Chelsea so vigilant over the past six months. In short, they have been good enough.
So to hear Lampard suggest that neither would have been in the club if he had been given the option to sign players a little jarred.
The debate about paths for young English talent is old. I have always thought that homegrown youths do not necessarily deserve special treatment. If they are good enough, they will find a way to get through it. If they are not, they will not.
Lampard admitted that the defender of Chelsea Fikayo Tomori would certainly have done it
But perhaps the argument should be more nuanced.
Perhaps we have assumed for so long that our domestic talent can be improved by abler, more technically gifted players from abroad that we will see it as our standard setting. If so, it must change and from that point of view players like Mount and Tomori can prove to be pioneers. Maybe they should be.
I remember an interview I did with another former Chelsea midfielder, Scott Parker, two seasons ago when the current Fulham manager coached young players at Tottenham.
He told me that the technical level of players now being produced by our academies is on a different scale than the time about twenty years ago that players like him, Lampard and Steven Gerrard came through the system.
Scott Parker said the technical level of the players produced is on a different scale than before
“They are miles ahead of where we were,” he said. “They are technically super.”
Parker’s message that day was clear: the academies are working. And it is something that seems to be confirmed when we look at the quality that Gareth Southgate now has at the international level.
The hope of the European Championship in England may still be undone in the middle or because Southgate has no world-class goalkeeper, but he will not be short of players who can raise their heads and use the ball.
So when will English football change its mind?
When do managers and sports directors start intrinsically trusting the players in whom so much time and money has been invested?
And it is demonstrated by the amount of young quality such as Jadon Sancho that Gareth Southgate has
The mystery is clear and as such it will always be harder for our own young players. The Premier League nowadays offers such a rich, glamorous platform for footballers that a club like Chelsea always has a stream of agents and parents who want to bring talent to their door from all over Europe and beyond. What is needed, if trends need to change, is a leap of faith.
At Chelsea they have had to take one and it is hard to claim that they are no better for it. Lampard has brought some clarity to life on Stamford Bridge.
It would be a shame if it all got a bit confused when the transfer window opened this summer.
There is still hope for Jimmy Greaves
This newspaper’s bid to earn an honor from Jimmy Greaves should not be necessary, but we should hardly be surprised.
Harry Gregg, once a keeper for Manchester United, saved lives in the Munich air disaster in 1958, but went without appropriate recognition until he received an OBE a little over a year ago.
Harry is now 87 and had to wait 60 years for his gong. There is still hope for Jimmy.
Jimmy Greaves (R) can hope that Harry Gregg waited 60 years for his OBE
Pickford’s concerns must concern Southgate
England’s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford thinks the world is out to get him and Gareth Southgate should be worried.
Such negative thinking can spread through a camp in England like a virus. It happened before.
I begin to long for the days when my only reservation about Pickford was about his football.
The concerns of Jordan Pickford that the world is out to get him should worry Southgate
Sterling consistency code in the fight against racism
It was reported by the Sunday Times that Raheem Sterling would like to set up a Premier League task force to combat racism. It is an admirable idea of a well-intentioned sportsman, but two contrasting images from this season come to mind.
The first was by Sterling (below) who spoke eloquently on the subject for the English Euro 2020 qualification in October last year in Prague. It was powerful stuff.
The second was how desperately confused and unconvincing his message had been fourteen days earlier when his Manchester City colleague Bernardo Silva was sued by the FA for posting a reportedly racist tweet about teammate Benjamin Mendy.
And this is the problem with taking a position. Consistency is crucial. It makes no sense to change things if you uncomfortably slide into your shoes when the problem comes closer to home.
Raheem Sterling must demonstrate consistency when it comes to combating racism