Evergreen Frank Lampard Continues To Show His Immense Worth To The Game

frank-lampard

Frank Lampard was supposed to be on holiday. Lampard, the consummate Londoner who has never played for a club north of the Watford Gap was simply thought to be keeping fit by training with the reigning Premier League Champions, Manchester City. After a 14-year run at Stamford Bridge where the player won three Premier League titles and a European Cup his career in England was over when not offered a new contract with the Blues. Signing in Major League Soccer over the summer with Manchester City’s affiliate club New York FC, Ashley Cole his former Chelsea and England teammate took a swipe at Lampard saying he was not ready to go to a retirement league (Cole was also released by Chelsea during the summer but signed with AS Roma).

The official loan deal sending Lampard to Manchester City on August 3rd was thought to be for match fitness purposes. But given the lack of depth the Citizens enjoy in central midfield it should be no surprise that Lampard has ended up playing a crucial role.

Manchester City in spite of winning the title last season used fewer players than any other Premier League side. The sale of Javi Garcia to Zenit left the side even thinner in the middle. Fernando was signed and the early returns on the defensive minded midfielder were positive but an injury against Stoke ruled him out of a month. Enter Lampard into the picture.

Given Lampard’s pedigree it should not have shocked us that when the Premier League returned from international break the 36-year-old was in manager Manuel Pellegrini’s starting XI against Arsenal at the Emirates. But it still was surprising to many. Lampard, whose career record against the Gunners has been poor looked off the pace and was subbed off at halftime. But Pellegrini kept the faith and when City were desperately chasing the game against Lampard’s former club this past weekend, the Chelsea legend was called on and he delivered breaking the heart of his former club and perhaps keeping a title race theoretically alive, for the near future. On Wednesday, against Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup, Lampard scored twice and also found time to take a selfie with a pitch invader.

During Roberto Mancini’s tenure, a default tactic when chasing games was for the manager to put another defensive minded midfielder into the match to flank Gareth Barry. This would allow Yaya Toure to push forward into the attack. In Pellegrini’s first year in charge the default chasing a game tactic would be to put Jesus Navas or James Milner on in order to stimulate attacks down the flanks, particularly at home on the wide Etihad pitch. But Lampard in a City shirt gives Pellegrini something completely different – a legitimate goal scoring midfield threat on the bench. Lampard’s trademark late runs from an attacking midfield position can be replicated even from a deeper lying place, particularly given how slowly City tends to build in the attack when compared to Chelsea. Thus Lampard gives another look, another option to a side that while overwhelming at times, is far less flexible tactically than the other top sides in England.

Lampard’s timelessness reminds us of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. But unfortunately unlike Scholes and Giggs he won’t be around at the business end of the season. However, if City defends its Premier League title and Lampard makes three more league appearances this season, he will win his fourth league winners medal. Not bad for a player that will by then be sitting in the “retirement home” of Major League Soccer.

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