Frank Lampard’s arrival in Major League Soccer was initially belated, and then rather disappointing.
An extended spell at Manchester City, having agreed to join expansion outfit New York City FC, frustrated many, with the former England international arriving Stateside a year later than expected, and mid-season.
Now 37 years of age, expecting the goal-getting midfielder to produce consistently across the course of 12 testing months was always going to be a big ask, and so it proved.
Performances improved steadily as he gradually acclimatised to life in the Big Apple, and rid himself of a niggling calf complaint. But a late flurry of three goals and an assist came too late to lift NYCFC into a play-off battle to put them among the odds with the likes of Ironbet.
For a man accustomed to challenging for top honours, that failure will have come as a disappointment, even when taking into account his limited involvement in new surroundings and the rookie MLS standing of his employers.
There will be a determination to right those wrongs next season. The focus, which many have questioned since Lampard was officially unveiled in July 2014, appears to have been narrowed on the task in hand. But what about news that he looks set to start doing more TV punditry?
Any player trading life in the Premier League for that on the other side of the Atlantic, especially those with a global standing as illustrious as Lampard’s, will inevitably spark loan gossip once their efforts in the US come to a close.
The likes of David Beckham and Robbie Keane have returned to Europe during the MLS off-season in years gone by, and the current influx of top talent from that part of the world – Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Didier Drogba etc. – has reignited speculation regarding where their respective new years will be spent.
It was, however, refreshing to hear – particularly for NYCFC followers – that Lampard is prepared to turn a deaf ear to the rumours and concentrate and getting himself in peak condition for the start of the 2016 campaign.
Back in England as part of the Sky Sports team covering Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-1 victory over Aston Villa, the ex-Chelsea man said: “I’ve played a lot of football and it’s very important for me now, particularly at this stage of my career, to have a little rest here, take some family time over Christmas and have a good preseason.”
Lampard was also prepared to state for the record that he intends to see out his playing days in New York, and hinted that an extension to his current contract is a distinct possibility if he still feels up to the challenge.
Lampard’s Fairytale of New York may have got off to a rather inauspicious start, but it may be that a happy ending is written before an icon of the modern game decides the time is right to hang up his boots.
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