FRANK LAMPARD has three games to figure out which players he can trust and pick his core for next season.
Chelsea beat Norwich City 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night and although the three points were massive, it was another lacklustre showing from the Blues.
Lampard once again questioned his players at the end of the game, stating that there was lots about the game that he’d like to be better.
He also believes that his players were not moving the ball quick enough, and he has every right to question some of the performances.
A lot of these players could well be playing for their Chelsea futures, especially the likes of Marcos Alonso, Jorginho, Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma, and even Willian.
But for the second game in a row, they lacked that intensity and desire to win the game and this will be concerning for Lampard.
After the Sheffield United defeat at the weekend, Lampard said his players were not vocal enough and questioned a lack of leaders.
He almost demanded a response, desperate for one or two of the players to step up and lead.
But other than Cesar Azpilicueta and Kepa Arrizabalaga, the Chelsea players remained in their comfort shells once again.
If they are fighting for their Chelsea futures right now, then I’m afraid many of them are slowly walking towards that Stamford Bridge exit door.
Lampard will have one eye on next season, and it is important that he has a squad full of players he feels he can trust to do the job week in, week out.
Right now he doesn’t have that – he has weak-minded players who perform inconsistently and that isn’t good enough at the very top level.
The fact that Lampard constantly rotates and does not know his strongest side is really quite significant.
Of course rotation can be a useful tool, but I feel that Lampard now needs to focus on building a solid, regular core of his team using players that are ready to go to war for him every game.
Players that are strong enough to stand up and lead the rest
of the team.
Every great Chelsea team of the past has had this, especially back in Lampard’s playing days.
There was Petr Cech, John Terry, Lampard and Didier Drogba as the strong core through the centre of the team.
Add to that the likes of Ashley Cole, Michael Ballack, Michael Essien and others and you had a team full of passionate leaders.
Lampard does have a few of these players in his squad who show the potential to be that type, but right now they are all hiding when they are needed most.
Reece James, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all have the potential to become vocal leaders at Chelsea.
But they are still a little too inexperienced and need the senior players to guide them, which is not happening.
The next ten days and three matches can define Lampard’s first season as a Premier League manager – and the result could be all so different.
They must gain Champions League football for the financial rewards, and they could do that as well as win the FA Cup.
This scenario would make for a massively successful first season.
But if they don’t win the FA Cup, nor qualify for the Champions League, this scenario will be seen as an unsuccessful first campaign.
The margins are so fine and every kick of the ball is crucial.
Lampard needs to go with youngsters who have often turned up when he needed them – the hungry, direct players that are full of energy.
I want to see Callum Hudson-Odoi, Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Reece James starting two of the last three games at least.
But balance those with the experience of the other better performers right now Olivier Giroud, Kurt Zouma, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Mateo Kovacic.
Here you have a good balance and a winning formula.