On paper, the idea of seeing Frank Lampard take over at Crystal Palace would be quite exciting.
Lampard is a talented, relatively young English coach with a big profile looking for redemption after being ruthlessly sacked by Roman Abramovich. Moving to a club seemingly set for a major rebuild would, naturally, have people feeling optimistic about the future.
Indeed, given the job Lampard did at Derby County, as well as his first season at Chelsea, it does seem fair to credit him as someone who can develop young players rather than someone who struggled to get his expensive raft of 2020 signings working in a coherent team.
Perhaps Frank Lampard is better than what we saw this season at Stamford Bridge but, crucially for Crystal Palace, perhaps he isn’t.
While not to do a disservice to Frank Lampard, Crystal Palace aren’t exactly so secure in the Premier League that they can start taking risks. An evolution of their squad in a departure from the Roy Hodgson era (which, in turn, follows the Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce eras) may have provided him with a sounder base on which to build, though the revolution expected offers nothing but uncertainty.
After all, Frank de Boer’s short stint at Selhurst Park is arguably the most ill-advised Premier League appointment of all time. Expected to craft a new identity as intricate as the complex attacking patterns Ajax’s famed philosophy is dripping with, de Boer was handed only industry from a squad built by managers wholly different in approach rather than much in the way of ingenuity.
Now, the situation isn’t directly the same given a number of players are expected to leave Palace at the end of their deals, but what is a Lampard team? What are they expecting him to do?
Granted, framing his appointment as a breakthrough for the club’s youngsters who could feasibly impress under him, as well as the usual platitude that Crystal Palace would be an attractive place for potential arrivals to go given the gravitas Frank Lampard carries, but how true is would either one of those promises be?
Indeed, a cynic would point out that Chelsea’s transfer ban forced him into blooding young players, while Derby weren’t exactly in a position to spend big money in the Championship.
That may be somewhat unfair but, frankly, there simply isn’t the sample size available to draw a firm judgement. If they get it wrong, it’s not out of the realms of possibility that Palace are drawn into an unwelcome relegation battle. For Lampard, surely less risky jobs will come up.
Clearly, his managerial stock has declined since his sacking at Chelsea and, though this may sound somewhat knee-jerk, you get the feeling his next job has to go right if he’s ever to manage the kind of club he was recently sacked from again. Why risk going to a club facing a period of major upheaval, just to get back into work?
Should Crystal Palace struggle under a relatively inexperienced manager with a squad no one is yet sure will look like, the reputation of Frank Lampard would take another huge hit, with little of the same mitigating circumstances this season at Chelsea offered.
Sources close to Eddie Howe have told the former Bournemouth manager that there’s a chance he could get the Palace job this summer, hence why he’s kept Celtic waiting. Boasting much more in the way of experience than Lampard, he would surely be a better bet, even if some of the worries about a radical change in tactical set-up are still warranted.
Palace can’t afford to take a risk here. Despite a sustained presence in the Premier League in recent years, the sheer nature of being a mid-table team doesn’t provide much in the way of stability. Don’t go down that road again. Frank Lampard to Crystal Palace would be a huge risk for both parties.
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