The victory in Baku meant Chelsea had won their third European trophy in eight seasons

A NEW

BEGINNING

Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin is optimistic that his old club can extend their modern era of success with Frank Lampard now in the dugout

Tonight is another chance for Chelsea to add even more success to their burgeoning modern history. The club has won this trophy once before – and adding a second would be an incredible start to the career of new manager Frank Lampard. 

If you are talking about the modern history of Chelsea Football Club, then his is one of the first names – if not the first – that springs to mind. Along with John Terry, he epitomises the spirit of a club that has in short order become a world-class force.

Understandably, the question has been asked whether or not Frank Lampard can be as successful a coach as he was a player. Not many would bet against it since he started well at Derby County, even though it was his first managerial position. Yes, he is extremely inexperienced to be taking on a club the size of Chelsea in his second season in management, and there will be concerns about that, but he is intelligent, erudite and knows the game as well as anyone after that stellar playing career. 

However, for a man who had the best timing I have ever seen with his late runs into opposition boxes, maybe the timing of his return to the club is slightly less than perfect. Eden Hazard has gone, Manchester City and today’s opponents Liverpool both look dominant in the Premier League, and there are currently difficulties signing new players, while others around them spend huge amounts on new talent. He clearly faces some big challenges.

That said, Lampard will be helped by the fact that he is much loved at Stamford Bridge and the upper echelons of the club fully understand his predicament.

Pedro's goal in Baku was his fifth in the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League

Even though Chelsea have changed coaches quicker than most, this time it is understood that he will need time to blood some of the young talent that has been fostered in the club’s famous academy. With four UEFA Youth League finals – and two victories – in the past five seasons, the  talent is certainly there.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi both had breakthrough seasons in 2018/19, and Lampard will hope that a few more can experience the same over the next nine months. Names like Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori are the first that come to mind and fortunately the new boss knows them as well as almost anyone. Anyone, that is, except for his second-in-command Jody Morris.

Morris was at Lampard’s side last season at Derby, but before that he was also a huge part in the recent development of Chelsea’s youth players when he coached the Under-18s and U21s from 2014 to 2018. Between them, they know the inside of the club intimately and that will be vital in getting the best out of everyone, which they will certainly need to do to stay in the hunt for the main trophies this season.

Jody Morris also has history with the Super Cup. In 1998, he sat on the bench the night that Gus Poyet came on to score the winner against Real Madrid in Monaco. It was a pretty impressive bench with Tore André Flo, now a club ambassador; Eddie Newton, who is still involved at Chelsea; and Brian Laudrup,

one of the greatest talents of his age. So

PAT NEVIN  

Twice voted Chelsea’s player of the year, Pat Nevin spent five seasons at Stamford Bridge in his 19-year career. The Scotland winger struck 46 goals in 241 appearances for the Blues after signing from Clyde in 1983 and won the second division title in his debut campaign. Since retiring in 2000, Nevin has been a regular pundit on television and radio, and writes a column for Chelsea’s official website.

2018/19 UEFA Europa League

ROAD TO ISTANBUL

GROUP L

Chelsea

BATE Borisov

MOL Vidi

PAOK

W

5

3

2

1

D

1

0

1

0

L

0

3

3

5

F

12

9

5

5

A

3

9

7

12

Pts

16

9

7

3

P

6

6

6

6

PAOK

Chelsea

Chelsea

BATE

Chelsea

Vidi

0-1

1-0

3-1

0-1

4-0

2-2

Chelsea

Vidi

BATE

Chelsea

PAOK

Chelsea

ROUND OF 32

Malmö

Chelsea

1-2

3-0

Chelsea

Malmö

Chelsea win 5-1 on aggregate

ROUND OF 16

Chelsea

Dynamo Kyiv

3-0

0-5

Dynamo Kyiv

Chelsea

Chelsea win 8-0 on aggregate

QUARTER-FINALS

Slavia Praha

Chelsea

0-1

4-3

Chelsea

Slavia Praha

Chelsea win 5-3 on aggregate

SEMI-FINALS

Eintracht Frankfurt

Chelsea

1-1

1-1

Chelsea

Eintracht Frankfurt

Aggregate 2-2; Chelsea win 4-3 on penalties

FINAL

Chelsea

4-1

Arsenal

Jody has a Super Cup winner’s medal whereas Frank hasn’t got his hands on one yet. His two appearances were losses against Bayern in 2013 and Atlético Madrid in 2012, and he will want to right that historical wrong tonight.

It is, however, the more recent history books that Frank and Jody will be more concerned with, and they make for some pretty good reading. Third in the Premier League last season, a narrow loss in a domestic final and, of course, the UEFA Europa League trophy back in the cabinet at Stamford Bridge. That final match in Baku last season was a glorious one for Chelsea, made more special by the ease of victory and the fact that it was against London rivals Arsenal. The Gunners were many people’s favourites beforehand, but Chelsea were supreme on the night as they coasted to a 4-1 win.

It was a magical 90 minutes for all Blues fans who made it over to that beautiful city in Azerbaijan on a balmy evening back in May. Frank will look back on that game specifically and realise that there is enough talent in the squad to be competitive both domestically and in Europe. The defence has hardly changed and it was only Liverpool and Manchester City who shipped fewer goals in the league last season, so there is no need to panic there. There will, however, have to be more goals scored both from midfield and up front.

That is clearly a concern, with the creativity and final product of Eden Hazard now being enjoyed at Real Madrid, but remember that the youngsters and returning loan players may yet come through, while Christian Pulišić will certainly add some dynamism. It may also be the case that both Pedro Rodríguez and Willian will flourish more now that they are no longer in the shadow of the little Belgian genius. Those two will get more of the ball in dangerous areas, and that will help. 

Think of Willian playing for Brazil: most moves go through Neymar and it doesn’t matter if the Chelsea player is in the form of his life – he still has less of an effect because he has less time on the ball. The same thing has happened to him to a degree at Chelsea, but that may now change. As a player who spent five years on the wing at Chelsea and a further 14 elsewhere, you could say that was a dilemma that frustrated me now and again!

Maybe, on top of it all, it is that stunning specific skill that Lampard had that is now missed more than anything at Chelsea. His goalscoring statistics from midfield were incredible. If someone had told me that one day the top scorer in Chelsea’s history would be a midfielder, I would have said they were mad. Even with all their great strikers over the years, every single one has been eclipsed by him. How did he do it? Yes, he was a great player and a great finisher, but he was also the best at timing late runs into the box that I have seen in 50 years of watching, playing and covering football around the world.

If Frank can impart some of that knowledge on to one or two of his new charges, then there is a chance not only that Chelsea will be successful but also that he could be a hugely successful coach at the club for a very long time. And that is a phrase you can’t say about many in the modern era.

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