Frank Lampard and MLS are a match made in heaven

MLS, Frank Lampard (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
MLS, Frank Lampard (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images) /

Frank Lampard rose to football stardom through the ranks at West Ham and then completed his move to Chelsea in 2001 where he achieved legendary status with the club. He won titles and cups galore, whilst boasting incredible stats over his illustrious career as a blues midfielder.

Lampard then signed for Manchester City as what was part of a unique, loan stint before joining New York City FC for the start of the 2015 MLS season. His managerial career so far has been short, and quite frankly, rushed.

Lampard spent a season at Derby where he came 6th and dramatically overcame Leeds United in the Play-Off Semi-Finals to achieve a spot in the final versus Aston Villa, where they ultimately lost. And once more, Derby County was resigned to the Championship after a failed Play-Off run. Along came Chelsea, to pick Frank Lampard out of the midlands club and return him to where he had put his name up in lights.

I didn’t need hindsight to tell me this would never work out for Frank Lampard. I’ve watched football all my life, and I’m not the know it all or unbeatable pundit you may find on the television during games. I’m just a fan that knows a pattern when I see one. Chelsea Football Club is notoriously reactionary.

Frank Lampard in the MLS is going to be fantastic in due time

If you’re looking to support an English team, for whatever reason, and you want one that’ll sack their manager because it felt right and some fans on Twitter agreed, then Chelsea is for you. This was never going to go in an inexperienced manager’s favour. Lampard was destined to fail. As are most who sit in Chelsea’s hot-seat.

Frank Lampard has always been in competition with co-patriot and fellow midfielder, Steven Gerrard. Their careers follow very similar timelines, they were known for goals and chance creations as well as setting the tempo for their sides. It was a midfield partnership that never worked in the England set-up as well as you’d think it would. Ultimately, because they’re similar players who just didn’t click well enough. As a manager, Gerrard has done it right. Lampard went wrong.

Gerrard walked into a Rangers comeback. A phoenix rising from the ashes looking to once again reclaim the Scottish throne from bitter, hated rivals, Celtic. As much of a fight that is, it’s not quite walking into a club expecting to win the English Premier League and/or domestic cups after a year as a manager at a lower level.

Frank Lampard jumped the gun. From the outside looking in, Lampard seemed too excited by the possibility of managing the club he forged a legacy at. All rational thought went out the window when Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich called.

He’s not the first ex-player to make that mistake. One of them is now currently doing it the right way at Montreal Impact. Thierry Henry was one-minute assistant manager of Belgium, and the next he was in charge of French royalty and his former team, AS Monaco. And then sacked, with not a lot of plaudits for the legacy he left behind in southern France.

Now, he’s still in a region that speaks the same language as himself. He’s still at a club with ambition. Although, he’s got the opportunity to make some mistakes without hysterical scrutiny. He’s found himself the perfect job for growth, with home comforts at the correct level of football, like Steven Gerrard.

Now, Phill Neville has taken over at Inter Miami and will hope to guide the club to a stronger second season in the league. Another wise, calculated move. He gets to work under a former teammate and friend, David Beckham.

Neville has the opportunity to continue his growth as a manager. He’s already been at the heights of managing England Women. This is mighty impressive, but it’s not comparable to a job in club management. Let alone, top division club management. Neville identified this job as the place to begin.

MLS is a fascinating league. It’s under-appreciated and under-used in this footballing world. I’ve referenced many times how this league is growing. It’s still a baby in so many ways. However, with a league like this, blink and it’ll be an adult. In 25 years, it’s vastly different already from what it looked like at the start.

Amazingly, I’d say it’s majorly different from how it looked even a decade ago. The stadia are improving, the identities of established clubs are evolving and they’re becoming known outside of the U.S. The expansions give the opportunity to new cities to join this league and with that, form fresh rivalries and begin their own footballing history.

This is a location where Frank Lampard should be looking. This league, as a whole. I could reference how he could push for a job back in New York, at either the Red Bulls or City. Maybe he’s the man to one day rock up to LA to re-establish the Galaxy’s dominance?

For example, New York Red Bulls suffered last season. Calls for a steady coaching staff were consistently made throughout the campaign, as Red Bulls witnessed 3 head-coaches in one season. NYRB came 6th in the East and ended up out of the Play-Offs in round 1. How long has Gerhard Struber got in charge of the side when MLS restarts in spring?

He’s an Englishman who’s not going to face a language barrier like he may if he ventures into Europe. Lampard is experienced in MLS, to some extent, and he’s not truly unlocked his potential as a manager all whilst being caught in two different managerial environments altogether. Lampard needs stability now in his career. In a location he can comfortably live with little transition or issue. Lampard needs a club that is growing like he is. A place where two young entities can discover a real footballing identity, together.

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It’ll be a waste and a shame if Frank Lampard were to return to a Premier League club that couldn’t offer that. Or arrive back at a Championship side who’s whole embodiment is a promotion at whatever cost.

And then to fail, again. To lose more finals and to have spectators like myself question just what type of manager this man is. What’s his style, what’s his gameplan. What players can he truly work with? Academy or ego-filled, ready-made stars?

In MLS, exists clubs where the hybrid is established. Where his role would be to unearth European academy gems whilst balancing it with a retiring star or two from leagues just as foreign.

All whilst developing U.S. future stars, from colleges and academies nationwide. Where it’ll be his responsibility to push his club onto Play-Off success, attacking football, and to help play his part in the continued Northern American football growth!

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Frank Lampard should predominantly have focus and interest west of the U.K, across the Atlantic to MLS. Rather than focusing inward, or onto mainland Europe. Lampard has proved he can do a job, to some extent. Whilst he may have lost an FA Cup final, and a Play-Off final, he still got his sides to those finals. Two major positives on his CV. If I were an MLS club owner, I’d be watching the former midfield icon closely.