Chelsea have been warned to be “realistic” over their top-four hopes for next season and to give Frank Lampard time to turn things around by Jamie Redknapp.
Chelsea finally confirmed Lampard will replace Maurizio Sarri as manager on Thursday morning following weeks of near-endless speculation.
The Blues legend impressed everyone in his first spell as a coach at Championship side Derby County last term. After finishing a respectable sixth-place finish in the table, the Rams reached the playoff final only to be denied promotion by Aston Villa.
Now, a new challenge awaits Lampard back at Stamford Bridge for only his second campaign in coaching. Firstly, he must regroup a Chelsea squad that have lost their star player Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.
But FIFA’s two-transfer window ban will likely hinder Lampard’s efforts as it denies him a chance to look for a replacement.
The former England international will also be under pressure to maintain Chelsea’s top-four status in the Premier League next season. Although Redknapp, who is also Lampard’s cousin, reckons that may be an unfair expectation.
“The expectation will be to finish in the top four, but they’ve got to be realistic,” the ex-Liverpool and Tottenham midfielder told Sky Sports.
“I think there’ll be moments in the season where it will be a struggle, because of the Hazard effect.
“It doesn’t matter what manager you have – [Pep] Guardiola, [Jose] Mourinho, anyone – they are going to struggle without that quality of player.
“But if they were to finish in the top four that would be an amazing season considering the transfer embargo and everything else.”
Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Guus Hiddink and Antonio Conte are just four of the 14 different coaches that have come and gone since Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea in 2003.
But Redknapp reckons Abramovich would be wise not to switch managers again so quickly after appointing Lampard.
“It’s a great move, not just for Frank but for Chelsea too,” he continued.
“It’s astute, you need someone who can stabilise the club somewhat when you’ve lost your best player and are under a transfer embargo.
“They’ve got one of their own, the fans adore him. He’ll need time, there’ll be a lot of changes; you can’t bring in any personnel to replace a big star name like Eden Hazard. He’ll need to be given time, but he will – because he’s Frank Lampard.”