Frank Lampard’s Chelsea reign got off to the worst start possible as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United put four past the Blues legend’s side, suggesting that the London club’s post-Hazard era may be a difficult one.
Lampard’s Chelsea, shorn of their primary attacking talent following Eden Hazard’s move to Real Madrid in the summer, handed starts to academy products Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham and, while both looked lively, the evidence certainly suggests that there will be more than a few dark days in SW6 this season.
Four defensive lapses resulted in four goals (with Kurt Zouma careless for more than one of them), as the collective ambition for the coming season grew steadily throughout the 90 minutes at Old Trafford and the result against last season’s third-placed team would have been the envy of even Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho, both of whom were in attendance.
Of course, it is Ferguson’s old friend Solskjaer who picks the team nowadays and he handed debuts to new signings Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
And the pair, assembled at a combined cost of more than $150 million, immediately added an element of assuredness in the back four which has been largely absent in recent years – something that was noted by United fans across the globe on Sunday, given the relative dearth of success the team has suffered since Ferguson’s retirement several years ago.
Maguire is a Vidic type defender
— Cosa Nostra 🇬🇭 (@Ashraf_Saaka) August 11, 2019
While both Manchester City and Liverpool will once again be this season’s presumed pace-setters in the Premier League, the manner of the rout over one of English football’s top teams has left United supporters yearning for the halcyon days at Old Trafford.
And many of them are giddy at the prospect of once again competing for top domestic honors.
We have the league lads. In Ole we trust.
— Seán Sheehan (@SeanSheehanBA) August 11, 2019
For Chelsea and Lampard, their opening-day performance proved to be something of a damp squib and the scale of the task facing the novice manager is clear.
With Eden Hazard’s world-class talents now housed solely in La Liga, a vacuum now exists at Stamford Bridge for another creative player to step up and deliver.
Christian Pulisic, the United States international imported from Borussia Dortmund, is the top contender to be Chelsea’s new creative fulcrum and was handed his debut by Lampard off the bench with thirty minutes to go.
America. Don’t freak out about Pulisic not starting. Premier League is unforgiving crucible. He needs room to ease himself in. Our boy will be subbed in today and grow from there. Standard Operating Procedure for Young Talent in whom so much been invested. We need to be patient🇺🇸
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) August 11, 2019
The USMNT star was largely a peripheral figure, although his close control and impressive movement were obvious to see. A promising crop of youngsters are coming through the ranks at Chelsea, with Mount one of the few to stand out on Sunday, and with the club dealing with a year-long transfer ban imposed upon the club for previous transfer improprieties, Lampard may have to lean on some of his young guns a little more than he’d ideally like as he works with the talent at his disposal.
And, judging by Sunday’s evidence, it looks like things might get worse before they eventually get better.
4-0 – As well as being the joint-heaviest managerial defeat of his career so far, Frank Lampard has suffered the heaviest defeat by a Chelsea manager in their first game in charge since Danny Blanchflower lost 7-2 at Middlesbrough in December 1978. Crying. #MUNCHEpic.twitter.com/QbBlZBFMSh
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 11, 2019
For two players that have had their development/maturity questioned, Rashford and Martial have shown how much Chelsea missing that more mature higher quality.
Literally the difference.
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) August 11, 2019