Frank Lampard's world-class Eden Hazard trick has set up Thomas Tuchel for Chelsea success


I doubt the few days of being a Chelsea supporter will prove as painful as the ones Frank Lampard was dismissed. As a five-year-old kid taken to his first game at Stamford Bridge without any prior knowledge of what football or even Chelsea was, I quickly came to idolise one player who transformed into the club's greatest ever in front of my eyes.

That fantasy was enhanced in 2019 when Lampard returned to coach the club I adored. Even with my initial fears of his lack of experience and its evident ruthless culture, his bright smile captured many fans imaginations on what could be. Unsentimental heads concluded his sacking as an inevitability, a correct call when judging his coaching shortcomings and the team's lack of vision in those final weeks of his tenure.

Apart from my very personal love for Chelsea , football and Lampard all beginning simultaneously, a wider concern for me was that Frank's implementation of Cobham talent would prove a unique hiatus from the previous norm. The introductions of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori and Billy Gilmour were all freak occurrences and not a part of a wider shift of appreciating the talent internally.

One of the great things about the 2019/20 season was that the very recent departure of Eden Hazard could have sparked a season of discontent without his quality, but it didn't. Instead, the inclusion of many fresh faces offered fans a new vision to cling onto. The purity of seeing a homegrown academy player breakthrough is a sight that is hard to match, and suddenly Lampard was providing several of these stories, each with their own unique narrative.

Thomas Tuchel, as the perceived distant figure, could have replicated the actions of Antonio Conte or Maurizio Sarri. He was here to restore Chelsea's ruthlessness. The fairytale of a pathway between Cobham and Stamford Bridge was closed. Conte did not have the patience or time to embed developing players. Sarri didn't even bother watching any academy game during his nine- month stint.

But Tuchel very quickly gave the impression he was going to be different, in addition to his evident desire to attain top titles with Chelsea. In his first press conference, he spoke passionately about Mason Mount's importance and the development of Billy Gilmour. As Simon Johnson of The Athletic revealed in detail last year, the German met with the club's academy staff who were anxious after Lampard's dismissal and what that meant.

Apparently, he arrived with beers, softening the mood and communicating a desire to see young talent thrive. But it was not just words, Tuchel's actions to lean on the brilliance of Mount and quickly hand Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James minutes continued Lampard's work.

The treatment of Tammy Abraham and the summer exodus of young talent was demoralising, but Tuchel's use of Trevoh Chalobah proved that those breakthroughs were still possible. Twelve months from Lampard's dismissal, Tuchel is still relying on the players who stood out for the club legend. James' form in the opening months of the season was extraordinary, and his absence from the team through injury has proved crippling.

In December, Mount's run of four goals in consecutive Premier League games showed the meteoric development of an outstanding talent that continues to mature. The likes of Lewis Hall, Harvey Vale, Xavier Simons and Jude Soonsup-Bell have been involved too in brief cameos over the past month to provide another glimpse of the upcoming crop of talent.

An accusation levelled at previous Chelsea coaches is the lack of a legacy lasting beyond their tenure, given the frequent change of face in the dugout. However, Lampard's most significant call has proved vital to uncovering a priceless route for brilliant talent, showing his 18-month tenure was not a wasted effort. It is something Tuchel is only building upon.

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