Cooney and Black

‘Fat Frank’ Lampard has been forced to run for cover, made to feel he has destabilised a situation he believed was the best one for him. Believe me, this is one good bloke

Frank Lampard


LET’S cut to the chase and state unequivocally that Frank Lampard is a good bloke.

He doesn’t deserve the bile and criticism that has come his way now it’s been revealed he signed for Manchester City for a season, and not on a loan deal.

What’s he supposed to do when his club, Chelsea, made it blatantly clear they were not prepared to offer him a new one-year contract?

Okay, it would have cost them around a rumoured £150,000 a week, and that is big dosh for a 36-year-old who can no longer play three times a week.
Even legends like Lampard find they cannot get up and down the pitch as regularly as they once did.

He would have accepted a lesser role at Stamford Bridge, but he wasn’t really offered one, not when it became apparent that Cesc Fabregas was on his way to the Blues.

Allegedly, the two don’t have the best of relationships and Lampard would have felt slighted that would have had to play a role at Chelsea that would have put him in the Spaniard’s shadow.

Chelsea offered Lampard a deal without really making it apparent they wanted him to stay at the club. So when City came calling with an offer that was more appealing, Lampard took it. He was quite entitled to do so.

That City were less than up front about their intentions confused the issue and made it look as if Lampard was part of a conspiracy. Believe me, he’s not that kind of person; he’s a different kind of footballer, honourable, honest, a proper professional.

His Dad, Frank senior, always told him to do things the right way when it came to his career, and his guiding hand has always been a steadying influence.

It now remains to be seen if City play Lampard at The Bridge on January 31, in a Barclays Premier League clash that is already being labelled a title decider.

Lampard just wanted to continue to play at the highest level. Staying at Chelsea meant he would get fewer and fewer opportunities. That was anathema to him.

His love of football has inevitably transcended all else: as a boy, he took a football to bed with him. When Dad told him something he remembered it, and if it meant working on a skill, he would stay on the training ground until he had got it right. Time became a distant consideration.

Frank senior remembers: “He was always a quick learner, always willing to listen.”

And he would have paid particular attention to what he was doing when City offered him a lifeline. There was no way he intend slighting Chelsea fans, or those of New York in the MSL; he just did what he thought was right for him.

Lampard was and is still all about principles. When West Ham sacked his uncle Harry Redknapp as manager, he vowed he would have nothing more to do with the East End club. He hasn’t.

And when he swears to God that he had no idea he would upset US fans by joining City for the season, he meant that. too. The trouble was it gave those on the social media the chance to snarl their criticism at him.

Some still chant “Fat Frank” when he plays, and those are dressed in Chelsea colours. This is aimed at a player who was Chelsea’s record goal-scorer – a player who loved the club and all for which it stood.

But now he has been forced to run for cover, made to feel he has destabilised a situation he believed was the best one for him.

Jose Mourinho will regret allowing him to leave, and his man management skills should have been good enough to dampen any ill feeling in the dressing room.

But, of course, the Portuguese doesn’t have the final say any more. The big decisions are made upstairs and above his head.

Once Chelsea knew they could get Fabregas, they backed off a Lampard contract extension. He had to look after himself, so when City came courting, he went along with their deal.

There is an unhappy dressing room at Real Madrid; it has existed for some time now, and could eventually see Gareth Bale moved back to the Premier League.

Unsettled players are no good to a manager, their club or their fans. Lampard did what was best for him after giving his best years to Chelsea. Nothing wrong in that, is there?


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