(Reuters) – Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, who celebrates his 42nd birthday on Saturday, is hoping to buck the trend of top English players whose forays into management turn out to be short and unsuccessful.
Chelsea resume their Premier League campaign at Aston Villa on Sunday and the West London club are currently occupying the fourth Champions League spot.
While Lampard’s job appears safe, regardless of how this season ends, he will know that failure to secure Champions League football for next season will increase the pressure on him next season.
Lampard was widely viewed as one of the finest midfielders of his generation but such a pedigree has not often been an indicator of success in management.
Bryan Robson, Chris Waddle, John Barnes and Alan Shearer are among the England greats who failed to replicate their prowess on the field when they took the ‘hot seat’ of management.
So far, Lampard, who has blooded several young players into the first team due to Chelsea’s transfer ban, has shown plenty of promise, after returning to Stamford Bridge following an encouraging season with Derby County.
Lampard, who was capped 106 times for England, was Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer with 211 goals in more than 400 appearances in all competitions.
The midfielder won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the Champions League during a trophy-laden spell at Chelsea.
With England, his talent at the highest level was clear to see but he suffered from the failure of England managers, particularly Sven-Goran Eriksson to find a way to get the best out of him and Steven Gerrard together in midfield.
Former Liverpool player Gerrard himself is cutting his teeth in management at Glasgow Rangers.
Both Lampard and Gerrard ended their careers in Major League Soccer, where the Chelsea boss played for New York City FC and also had a loan spell at their parent club Manchester City.
Lampard’s reputation as a player, adored by the Chelsea fans, will help him ride out any difficult moments but a big test awaits him in the transfer window.
With Chelsea now free to spend, the Londoner has a chance to truly shape the squad as he wishes.
The club have already secured Morrocan winger Hakim Ziyech from Ajax Amsterdam and are reported to be close to a deal for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner.
The club have money to spend after the sales last year of Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata generated around 150 million pounds ($188.43 million), which they were not able to reinvest.
Lampard knows that, however this season ends, he has to quickly ensure that the new faces fit together with his young talent and begin to make Chelsea genuine contenders once more.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge)