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Lampard & Chelsea support: Why it's critical Blues community stand behind new manager

COMMENT: So over to you, Chelsea fans. Indeed, the Blues community. If this is going to work, then Frank Lampard is going to need the support of everyone connected to Chelsea FC...

Some called it a love-in. But it really wasn't. Lampard's first media conference as Blues manager was your typical upbeat, constructive unveiling. And there was always that little sting to the questions. About experience. Being ready. Those in the room didn't grant Lampard a free run. As much as he smiled and joked, the new Chelsea gaffer did address those doubts - and in detail. As much as anyone, Lampard knows there's many convinced he's just too green to be taking on a job of this size.

Which is where his support network really needs to kick in. There'll be peaks, no doubt. You could sense the excitement in Lampard's voice as he discussed expectations around that first home game against Leicester City.

But inevitably, there'll be troughs. SansEden Hazard and the club's transfer ban, Lampard spoke enthusiastically about Chelsea's youth system. Those with potential. And those who've shown there's more to them than simply promise.

But young players will fall away. As talented as the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi are, to demand a consistently high level of performance over the course of a season is the stuff of fantasy calcio. Lampard and the Blues board are right to put their faith behind the talent and potential of their young players, but there has to be a shot of realism injected into all this. There has to be an understanding that form slumps will happen. No matter the reputation.

As well as Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori performed for Lampard at Derby last season, it also has to be acknowledged that Mount's form fell away after Christmas. Good enough to play his way into the England squad, the Chelsea midfielder was for a time struggling to make the Rams bench. Typical growing pains. Typical of a young player still developing. Which is what lays in wait for Chelsea fans this coming season.

And this is where those once on the inside, but now watching from the pundit's sofa, need to get this across to the Blues support.

It'll happen. There will be a run of poor performances. Poor results. It's inevitable. And it'll be crucial those ex-Blues in the media actually go deeper and explain why this is happening, rather than choosing the hysterical route.

Unfortunately, there's already some writing off Lampard. And you just wonder, to set out your stall so early, does the ego allow you to walk it back? The charm. Those relationships. It may buy Lampard some time. But not for long. We saw it with Maurizio Sarri last season. Hudson-Odoi. Jorginho. Simply jumping on the mob bandwagon, instead of explaining why Sarri was making the decisions as he was. Some pundits clearly smelt blood in the water and joined in.

The zenith arriving at Cardiff, Chelsea fans barracking their own as the team's two youngest players Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek - amid the spite and venom - helped turn the game around. It surely won't get as bad as that. But the potential is there. To make this work, Lampard will need the support to be patient with his plans. His players. And he'll need those ex-Blues now talking for a living to do the same.

For now, the goodwill is there. But Manu Petit has had his say. Even Pat Nevin has questioned whether Lampard can handle it. And you can just bet Chris Sutton will go in feet first should things turn sour.

But Lampard will need better from those connected to the club. Not to go for the flash sound-bite. The ego feeding headline the next morning. If he's not playing Loftus-Cheek, then actually detail his back complaint. If Hudson-Odoi has been withdrawn, then again explain the pitfalls of managing young players.

Be critical where it deserves, of course. But do it constructively. There'll be plenty of colleagues happy to take the cheap route when things don't go to plan.

Much like the Chelsea we expect to see over the next season, this appointment is one made on emotion. On potential. On what could be. As much as those young players ready to take advantage of this transfer ban will need support, Lampard will require the same.

An English manager. And one of their own. This is new ground for the club. And it isn't going to work unless the entire Chelsea community stand by their new manager through the bad - as well as the good.


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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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