Chelsea can finally get the best out of youth under Lampard by copying Ajax and Bayern’s philosophies

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IT has long been the philosophy at Bayern Munich and Ajax, while Real Madrid and Barcelona are not immune either.

Yet as Chelsea set upon a new course of rewarding former playing greats with managerial, coaching and business roles, it is widely being viewed as an exercise in romantic sentimentality.

Frank Lampard could have the chance to bring a Euro-style revolution to Chelsea, who have never fully exploited their youth potential
Frank Lampard could have the chance to bring a Euro-style revolution to Chelsea, who have never fully exploited their youth potential
Reuters

Frank Lampard may not be a success as Chelsea manager — this is still Chelsea after all, where promises of patience from Roman Abramovich always sound fanciful.

Petr Cech may not excel as the club’s ‘technical and performance advisor’ — a role which is seemingly tailored for the former keeper to step up to a powerful sporting director’s perch.

And a whole host of other ex-players, from Lampard’s No 2 Jody Morris to Claude Makelele, Joe Cole, Ashley Cole and Didier Drogba may not thrive in rumoured backroom roles.

But that does not mean this isn’t an avenue worth venturing down, especially as Chelsea’s transfer ban demands a diversion from caning it in the market and ignoring their own young talent.

Lampard, Chelsea’s record goalscorer and Champions League-winning captain in 2012, will sweep back into their Cobham training base on a tidal wave of goodwill within the coming days.

BRIGHTEST MINDS

And despite his relative lack of managerial experience — one decent Championship campaign with Derby — the 41-year-old is no less deserving of the Chelsea job than Pep Guardiola was at Barcelona or Zinedine Zidane when first appointed as Real Madrid’s coach.

The appointment of Cech — a close ally of Abramovich’s right-hand woman Marina Granovskaia — is perhaps an even more significant long-term move.

Bayern and Ajax have been making such use of significant former players for years — yet in England’s leading clubs the policy is rare.

The intelligence of footballers is often underrated by English clubs.

Lampard and Cech, though, are two of the genuinely brightest and the idea they are merely being appointed as a sop to restless fans is an insult.

Morris will arrive alongside Lampard. Joe Cole is helping out in the academy, where another popular ex-player Jon Harley has recently been promoted, while Tore Andre Flo and Paulo Ferreira are also employed there.

Ajax’s footballing model has allowed for youngsters like Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt to flourish
Getty – Contributor
Derby defender Ashley Cole could be part of a returning legion of legends at Chelsea on the coaching side
Derby defender Ashley Cole might be part of a returning legion of legends at Chelsea on the coaching side
PA:Empics Sport
Ex-Chelsea midfielder Claude Makelele could return to oversee loans
Ex-Chelsea midfielder Claude Makelele may return to oversee the large number of players they loan out
Getty – Contributor

Ashley Cole may also gain employment as a youth coach. And Makelele, the ex-prince of holding midfielders, may oversee Chelsea’s army of loan players.

Drogba has been touted for a coaching job, although some believe he is unlikely to be given anything more than his current unofficial ambassadorial role.

The one obvious omission is ‘captain, leader, legend’ John Terry, left out in the cold and having signed a new coaching contract at Aston Villa.

Terry would love to be where Lampard is now, preparing to be unveiled as Chelsea’s first permanent British manager in 23 years.

Yet all in all, Cobham is beginning to look a lot like the world-famous Ajax talent factory, where former Dutch playing greats can be found in every office and training pitch.

Frank Lampard’s achievements at Chelsea will take some beating


Chelsea’s decision to follow a similar path should be seen as an enlightened one.

It surely cannot hinder the progress of young prospects such as Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount.

Lampard is a novelty and a risk — but he is an authentic Chelsea man at the very least.

Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and Didier Drogba pose with the FA Cup and Prem trophies in 2010 - and could be reunited
Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and Didier Drogba pose with the FA Cup and Prem trophies in 2010 – and could be reunited

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