It’s the conundrum of the latter half of the season. Apparently Chelsea seem prepared to let Frank Lampard’s contract lapse, and wave goodbye to one of the greatest players to pull on the blue shirt in modern times. Unless they’ve got their calendar hanging on the wall backwards and still think we’re in 2011, with a chunk of time to tie up the midfielder’s service tied up, there’s some other reason why they’re prepared to hand the number eight shirt to someone else for next season. But what?
Yep, there’s the age of course. Lampard will begin his thirty-sixth year during the close season, Of course there’ll be a new manager next season who may not fancy his style, and he is one of the highest earners at the club. I also know the arguments about turning out the ‘old guard’. But is there something else? Is there something that hasn’t got out from this leakiest of clubs? If not, I’m a bit like the rest of the overwhelming majority of football fans. I want to be frank. I simply don’t understand it.
Look, I know he’s not the twenty-odd year-old tyro tearing up and down the pitch any more. Of course that’s true, but now he’s adapted to the holding role handed to him, he remains a consistently top performer in a team in turmoil and a season of now apparently regular sedition in the ranks. Not an aged crock struggling with a succession of injuries, he remains one of the fittest players. And let me pop one more thing out there. Paul Scholes was allowed to retire too early and had to be called back to plug a few holes. If the club let Lampard go, there’s going to be a queue for his signature, so there’ll be no chance of a “Sorry Frank, my bad!” call from the club to get him back.
Already in his tenth season of netting at least ten goals in the Premier League– just have a check how many strikers can claim that, let alone a midfield player – he headed the goal that notched his double-century for the club at the weekend, and now sits only a couple behind Bridge legend – and striker – Bobby Tambling in the all-time scorers list.
Lampard’s made no secret of his desire to stay at his spiritual home, and continue for at least another season. It begs the question as to whether a club undergoing such turmoil can afford to discard this almost model pro, who contributes to the club’s cause in so many ways. As a dyed in the wool blue, I can only hope that Roman realizes the folly of the approach and offers Lampard a new contract. From where I’m sitting, to be frank, anything else would be crazy.