Frank Lampard to Celtic? Nah, you're ok thanks.

By Euan Davidson

January 26, 2021

So, the papers are talking up Frank Lampard as the next Celtic manager.

The Sun are suggesting it could happen.

Lampard recently left the club where he was a playing hero, Chelsea. After a short, mediocre stint with Derby County, his name-brand secured him one of the biggest jobs in Europe, where he lasted a season and a half. In fairness to “Lamps”, Chelsea finished 4th last season, hamstrung by a summer transfer window ban [BBC].

When Roman Abramovic gave Lampard funds, the former midfielder spent £222m [Transfermarkt], on players you would’ve thought would’ve made an impact. Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech all looked like astute buys, while the goalkeeping conundrum at Stamford Bridge looked sorted with Edouard Mendy joining from Rennes.

Yet, Lampard left Chelsea at 9th in the table. With Neil Lennon under pressure, the inevitable speculation linking him to the Celtic job arrived on cue.

Is it a good idea, though?

Rookie coach Lampard; a good Celtic tactical fit?

Firstly, two things become clear.

Chelsea’s squad is brimming with exceptional talent. Objectively, Lampard should’ve been doing much, much better with these players. Secondly, his teams have been incredibly frail at the back, especially this season’s Chelsea.

Lampard likes to set his sides up in a 4-3-3, with attacking wing-backs and mobile midfielders who can cover large areas of the pitch. With Kovacic and Kante, Lampard essentially had two box-to-box midfielders operating in the middle, with the likes of Mason Mount able to join the attack, to create mismatches going forward. However, Kovacic would often find his position exposed by joining the attack too readily.

Aggressive pressing was the name of the game under Lampard at Chelsea. However, as Outside of the Boot explains, it was more of a defensive tactic than Klopp’s “Gegenpress”, for example. Chelsea under Lampard were extremely vulnerable to counter attacks:

“Chelsea stand at a concerning third place in the Premier League table for goals conceded on the break, with his Derby side standing joint top for the same statistic last season.”

In a fast-paced league like ours, that could be a real problem. This current Celtic side struggle with teams breaking quickly, as it forces Neil Lennon’s side into needless fouls, where opponents score from set-pieces (more often that not).

If, hypothetically, Lampard was to play a 4-3-3, we’d expect a combination of Soro dropping deeper, McGregor to his left and Turnbull to his right. As exciting as that sounds going forward, it relies on incredibly hard work from McGregor and Turnbull to be able to track back.

McGregor is comfortable with that, and we’re sure Turnbull could progress his game to suit that need, but it’d be a tricky transition to pull off long-term.

Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard for England / (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Ex-Premier League Boys’ Club?

I’m uncertain whether this is misplaced jingoism or a contrarian, anti-PL sentiment, but there’s something about all this “coming up the road to take on Gerrard” stuff that doesn’t sit right with me.

Yes, it’ll help any Sky Sports deal, but the Glasgow Derby turning into a battle between England’s best midfielders of the last 20 years is a little hollow, I feel. Steven Gerrard was a gamble on Rangers’ part, having only managed youth sides at Liverpool.

While that’s certainly one way to become educated in management, it still represents a bit of a punt from the Ibrox side’s perspective. Some patience and a budget later, it’s paid off for them.

Lampard would clearly have more experience before joining Celtic, but is it necessarily good experience? It was sheer nepotism that landed Lampard the Derby County job [Sky Sports], and it was his playing career that got him the big role at Chelsea.

Let’s be clear here: his Derby County side were, at best, alright. They made it to 6th in the Championship [Metro], with Lampard leaving after a single season to join Chelsea. At the Blues, he did ok initially, before the side’s form fell off a cliff.

Does he deserve to just jump into his next big club based on his CV? I’d argue not. And certainly not ours.

Frank Lampard: automatic political misfit at Celtic

This bit you might not care about, but plenty will.

Celtic come from a tradition of being working-class, worker orientated and socially conscious. The biggest Bhoys’ supporters group share and live those ideals. So Frank Lampard, an avowed Tory, has an automatic disadvantage there.

The Celtic supporters have a long history of rejecting Conservatism. The clearest example are the protests against Rod Stewart after the last election [Daily Record], and of course, the anti-Thatcher demo in 1988 [Herald].

Employing someone as unabashedly Tory as Frank Lampard could only serve to add to supporter unrest against the board, who feature Ian Bankier and Ian Livingstone, a Conservative peer.

It may sound like small-time stuff, but it’s the Celtic support who matter most here. Many will find having a manager who represents London Conservatism uncomfortable. If he does badly, a huge number of the support would be on Lampard’s back from day one.

This kind of thing matters.