Chelsea is building one of the best squads in England, but the way the Blues put together this team is reminiscent of Pep Guardiola’s side.
In the Premier League these days, clubs are trying to catch both Manchester City and Liverpool. These top two were dedicated to building their teams in different ways, but they succeeded anyway. As Chelsea seeks to complete its squad with some summer acquisitions, the Blues’ construction looks strangely similar to that of the Pep Guardiola City team.
The most obvious similarity between the two parties is their managers. Both Frank Lampard and Pep Guardiola had distinguished game careers, which certainly helped them make the transition to the managerial side of things. From man management to learning tactics, Lampard and Guardiola benefited from playing at the elite level of European football.
Guardiola’s success as a manager so far speaks for itself. On the other hand, Lampard has shown early signs of establishing himself as one of the best players in England. Guiding Chelsea to a place in the top four under the circumstances is no easy feat; especially considering that the young manager outclassed coaches like José Mourinho on his way to lead the Blues there.
Furthermore, Lampard’s tactics are somewhat reminiscent of Guardiola’s. Nothing is set in stone since the English manager is only in his second year, but at first, Lampard’s attack style takes a page out of Guardiola’s book.
Sometimes he had to deviate from his preferred tactics during his period at Chelsea. However, in Derby, viewers saw Lampard’s basic tactics in his childhood stages. His 4-3-3 was often compared to Guardiola’s tiki-taka playing style as Lampard used a series of triangle passes to build the game. Lampard’s attack style, based on possession at its core, is a mix of Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti’s offensive minds, but he’s also not afraid to send what he learned with Mourinho.
While Lampard has developed some of his younger players during his two years as manager, specifically Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, he turned to Roman Abramovich’s checkbook to congratulate his young stars. Guardiola has done the same in Manchester City. When he arrived in 2016/17, he spent a season evaluating the talent at his disposal and attracting his players. Chess was played while the rest of the league, apart from Jurgen Klopp, played checkers.
City finished third that season, 15 points off the Blues, who won the league with Antonio Conte. However, there was no pressure on Guardiola to compete for the title as the owners bought his vision. The same goes for Lampard this season. No one realistically expected Chelsea to contend this season, with many dismissing them as the top four challengers. However, the board bought the long-term vision of success that Lampard preached.
Now Lampard is using the transfer market to build a club that will likely compete year after year, just like the City of Guardiola. Look no further than the acquisitions of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner to see that. Chelsea’s search for players like Kai Havertz and Said Benrahma shows that the Blues understand what it takes to win at the elite levels of English football: depth. Today, the gap may be larger than it was for Spanish a few years ago, but Lampard is closing fast.
Chelsea and City dominated the past decade in the Premier League, so it is only natural that the two sides reflect on each other’s construction for the future and have similar management styles. Lampard surely admires Guardiola, but could you refer to him as the English version of him when this topic is revised in a few years? It certainly seems like it. The blues have the squad, they have the style, all they lack is success.