Lampard oversaw Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori thriving in the Championship at Derby. Now he must hope that pair, alongside players such as Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Jake Clarke-Salter, Ethan Ampadu and, once fit, Callum Hudson-Odoi, excel at the higher level. Chelsea’s academy has craved an opportunity for its graduates to demonstrate their abilities and step up into first-team reckoning en masse. The Fifa transfer ban, and the appointment of an empathetic coach, may mean that time is now. Talk of greater integration between seniors and academy groups is an encouraging start.
There are senior players, some secured for significant sums, who must step into the breach as well. Tiemoué Bakayoko was shipped off to Milan on loan last term, while Michy Batshuayi (Valencia and Crystal Palace) and Kurt Zouma (Everton) will also hope to make an impact back at their parent club. Mateo Kovacic, last year’s loanee from Real Madrid, has to be more productive now he has joined for £44.8m and even Danny Drinkwater, classed as a homegrown player in European competition, may have a role again. There may now be a sense of regret that the loan deal which took Victor Moses to Fenerbahce stretches to 2020. Álvaro Morata is to join Atlético Madrid when his loan there expires at the end of the season.
The Brazilian seems to be linked with clubs such as Barcelona and Atlético in every transfer window, which may be to his representative’s credit, and is entering the final 12 months of his contract. At 30, the winger might not normally be the type of player Chelsea would seek to retain. But, given the constricts of the transfer ban, they can ill afford to lose him and will be reluctant to watch him depart for nothing next summer. Convincing him to follow David Luiz’s lead and commit his future could be beneficial.
Shape his coaching staff
The time feels right for a revamp of the coaching staff. Maurizio Sarri’s bloated backroom team have been moved on or are being ushered into different roles, and Joe Edwards, highly regarded having worked with the youth set-up and, more recently, the development squad, is rising into the first-team picture with Eddie Newton. Incorporating Didier Drogba or Claude Makelele, as familiar faces from a glittering recent past, as Petr Cech takes up his technical role, would add to the sense that Chelsea have restored some of their soul.
Convince Roman to returnRoman Abramovich’s has not been a visible presence at Stamford Bridge in two years. The owner attended the end-of-season charity game in Boston and the Europa League final in Baku but his box high up in the West Stand tends to lie empty these days. Lampard is one of a few who enjoy a direct line to the oligarch and, given Abramovich is able to visit on a tourist visa, might be able to convince the Israeli citizen to return on a more regular basis? His absence has been unsettling. His mere presence might serve to lift the mood further.