I remember seeing a clip once of Harry Redknapp having some sort of open forum with a large room full of West Ham fans.
The atmosphere wasn’t particularly cordial, and the fans were bemoaning the fact a very young Frank Lampard (who was also in attendance) had been bought on in a game ahead of a certain Scott Canham — who they considered a much better prospect.
Redknapp stood his ground and continued to say he believed Lampard would go on to get “right to the very top” of his profession.
Canham ended up at Torquay, Brentford, and Leyton Orient over the next four years before playing non-league for the rest of his career — Lampard joined Chelsea and won the bloomin’ lot.
The point I’m trying to make is that Lampard has always had to prove his worth.
I remember opposition fans laughing that Chelsea had paid £11m (€12.2m) for him in 2001 (a considerable sum then) — smugly asserting he wasn’t worth it.
I remember the “fat Frank” jibes, the accusations of nepotism, the constant comparisons with Gerrard where Lampard was often perceived as the inferior (look at any stat — Frank wins hands down).
Everything that Frank Lampard has achieved, he has done so through hard work and a will to succeed. His strength of character enabled him to reach the very pinnacle of his profession.
He has always maintained that although he was more than a competent player, he wasn’t as naturally gifted as some of his counterparts, so to succeed he had to work harder, train longer, push himself further.
And so, he has decided to step though the rotating doors at Stamford Bridge and already the narrative is he’s “not experienced enough”, the “role has come too soon”, he “won’t be able to deliver” within the time frame... it’s so depressingly predictable.
I’m not going to say the job is going to be easy — far from it. In fact to come back to a club where you are a universally adored legend is a brave move. He doesn’t have to do it, he doesn’t need the money, he could have gone the comfy pundit chair route. He could have declined the call, afraid of damaging his legacy.
But that simply isn’t Frank Lampard.
In his first press conference he has said he knows what is expected of him and is confident he can deliver.
Last season was a difficult one for the club — a manager who divided the support, awful football, hit and miss results, fans questioning the board, an absent owner, rumours that the club was for sale, delayed new stadium — the gloom was tangible.
Frank Lampard coming home has given the club the kind of lift that I struggle to even to put into words.
The fans obviously love him and will give him time to make his mark.
Given everything he contributed to Chelsea, the board and owner too will be more patient than with any other possible candidate.
The transfer ban will help focus the mind. We cannot expect miracles immediately but also it will hopefully mean that he will need to dip into the Chelsea youth ranks to bolster the team, something the fans have wanted for a long time.
Lampard is an intelligent individual.
He hopefully will be able to nurture a bond with the squad. He played under Mourinho at a time where the Portu-geezer’s powers were at their most potent. Frank often speaks about how Jose changed the way they thought — instilled the mindset of champions in them all.
Many, including some Chelsea fans, think that this opportunity has come too early for Lampard.
Luckily, Lampard has realised that it has come at the right time for Chelsea. The club need a talisman to unite the club, heal the rifts, and bring the feelgood factor back.
Someone who doesn’t just talk the talk, but has walked that walk with bells on. Someone who feels an affinity with the club. Someone who knows how this club operates from the inner sanctum to the terraces. A man who can navigate the shark-infested waters of the media who attack at the first whiff of blood.
Frank Lampard, in my opinion is that man.
Oh happy days.