If we go back in time, the prospect of Frank Lampard and John Terry not starting was quite unthinkable (apart from injury demands of course). But taking a look at our tremendous 2012/2013 season, we can see that John Terry has made 18(3) appearances this season, while Lampard has made 28(8). Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Petr Cech and Didier Drogba were always the first names to appear on the team-sheets, the backbone of the team. Petr Cech of course will remain our n.1 GK for the next 2 or 3 seasons at least, as he’s 30 years old, which is quite young for a GK (having Courtois is making things a bit complicated for both of them anyway), while Drogba has left and Ashley Cole is still one of the best, if not the best left-back in the world. Ash has renewed his contract back in December, while we’re still in the Lampard saga since the beginning of the season and will possibly get involved in a John Terry saga next season. In my opinion, the presence of the old guard, for a team in transition, is a must.
1) Looking back at the Napoli games last season.
AVB wanted to change the team, bring in the new talents while decreasing the dependence on the old guard. And look at what happened. I remember the team-sheet that day when we played Napoli at Naples, it was like this: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Bosingwa, Ramires, Meireles, Malouda, Sturridge,Drogba, Mata. Subs: Turnbull, Cole, Essien, Lampard, Torres, Mikel, Kalou. The team that AVB picked that day lacked both, experience and guidance. There was no leader on the pitch, as JT also wasn’t playing. We were all over the place, no organisation whatsoever. We lost 3-1, the defense was in shambles and we were outplayed throughout the whole game. Then came our beloved RDM, and picked a team (Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Essien, Lampard; Sturridge,Drogba, Mata) that has lots of experience and confidence to overturn that deficit. I don’t blame AVB for trying to change the team and introduce some new formations and players and I’m not defending those who refused to ‘commit to his ideas’, but he just picked the wrong team, time and competition. You can’t try such a risky formation in a CL game. AVB wanted to prove to the whole world that he was the one who’s controlling things not the players, nor Roman. Yes the manager was a bit inexperienced back then, but to be fair, the old guard should have never disrespected him that way. Anyway. And the irony was that it was them who won us the second leg, with Drogba, Lampard and Terry all scoring. And of course Ivanovic. I brought up that point as an evidence of the importance of the experienced players in crucial games, which was totally evident in that game. They got the job done.
2) The Giggs and Scholes situation.
Whenever I go into that conversation with anybody, they just tell me “Come on, look at Giggs and Scholes, you should treat your legends better than that! ” And maybe Gerrard, Zanetti (39) or Becks (38) too. Giggs is 39, Scholes 38, Gerrard is a bit younger, 32 and we have Lamps, 34 and el capitano, JT, 32.
Ryan Giggs, in fact, doesn’t feature a lot (15(10) apps in all competitions). But when he does, he adds that experienced touch of his to the game. I believe that his role off the pitch is even greater, in guiding the younger players. When he played in the second leg vs Real Madrid, he has clearly shown that he hasn’t lost it. He was classy on the ball and dovetailed excellently with Rafael to keep Ronaldo contained. Also when he featured in Chelsea’s last game vs Manchester United at OT, he made that sublime pass to RVP, which was out of this world! While I was watching the Real Madrid champions league game, I thought about Lampard and Terry and whether they would accept that position or not. Lampard is a player who likes to play all the time, and gets bothered when he’s benched. Terry, of course doesn’t like to get benched, but he seems to be willing to accept that role more than Frank. If he doesn’t play, his second best thing to do is to be there for the lads and support them, that’s what made him the leader he is. They can perfectly become like both Giggs and Scholes, although some fans prefer to see them leave on a high, just like Didier did. In my opinion, that Giggs role would suit Terry more than Lampard, as Lamps doesn’t have the same leader characteristics as JT. So if they’re not playing, they’re helping the rest of the team by just being there.
3) Their value and importance.
Lampard is the best professional Chelsea have had in more than a decade, the definitive version of a role model for all our younger talents (Hazard, Mata, Oscar and so on). Lampard broke the record today and became Chelsea’s all-time goal scorer with 203 goals to his name. And no, he’s not a striker, he’s a midfielder. Why let him leave and let another club benefit from his professionalism, while he still delivers ? (Lampard has 14 goals this season, 5 assists and a passing success of 81%. While Terry has 5 goals and a passing success of 87%). JT, whatever misgivings people have about him, he’s the squad’s leader and without him, our defense looks vulnerable and nowhere near organised. His loyalty for this club is unquestionable, that’s why we have always stood by him no matter what. They may not be our best performers lately, but whenever they’re on the pitch, we tend to look a bit more confident and less shaky in midfield and definitely at the back. Our squad is filled with young promising talents, but let them play without a leader and it’ll all turn into one hell of a chaotic display (i.e: Brazil’s squad, when they played Italy and Russia recently, you look at the jaw-dropping talents they have, and you’re like: what a waste! There’s no leader to guide them, specially when they surrendered the 2-0 lead over Italy). Our team needs time to gel and form a proper squad, the old guard will be helpful in cementing that. The spirit that we have, the old guard’s spirit that made us what we are now will just go if we let them leave one after the other. They should stay to try to transmit that kind of spirit to the younger players. I’m not saying that the younger lads are not passionate about the club, in fact they show a lot of passion ( Specially Juan Mata and David Luiz, which I believe the latter will be the next Chelsea captain). It’s normal that they won’t get to play a lot, but their role off the pitch will always be more important to help the younger lads to become like them.
Before the Champions league final, I read this on the bleacherreport.com “Very few teams in the world can match Chelsea in the desire and determination departments”. This is exactly what the old guard provides us, and that’s what we need them to transmit to the younger players around.
In the end I want to say that Roman must change his mind and keep both players at the club, because they are the backbone of the team, on and off the pitch. I believe both will accept a pay-cut if that’s the only way they could stay, they ain’t poor I believe and the club has given them so much throughout their entire careers. Their value is immense, and if we let them go, the clubs will be queuing round the block to sign them ( a bit of a Harry Redknapp quote here haha).
Any comments or questions? Feel free to post them below.