Paul Merson's Chelsea verdict so far: No fear factor, but patience key
"If Chelsea finished in the top four this season, Frank Lampard would get manager of the year"
Last Updated: 03/09/19 8:33am
Paul Merson believes Chelsea do not currently have the fear factor they once had, but says patience is key under Frank Lampard.
After arriving from Derby in the summer, Lampard has picked up five points from four games in the Premier League, losing leads in both of their games at Stamford Bridge.
They drew 1-1 with Leicester on August 18 before throwing away a 2-0 lead against newly-promoted Sheffield United on Saturday, prompting some jeers from the home fans.
But with a transfer ban in place, Merson believes patience is key, with Chelsea fielding one of the youngest average ages in their starting XIs this season.
Fear factor gone?
Chelsea were beaten 4-0 by Manchester United on the opening day of the season, but speaking on The Debate, Merson believes game management in their two home draws has been most worrying.
"I was disappointed with them in the last 30 minutes against Man Utd, I thought they threw in the towel and drifted away.
"But elsewhere, it's a difficult one; as a new manager you want to come out and entertain. I'm a Chelsea fan. If Mourinho was 2-0 up against Sheffield United, he'd bring off a striker and put on another defensive midfield player. That was the end of the game, end of, and the other team knew that as well.
"The other teams don't know that now. Chelsea haven't got that fear factor anymore. Now, teams like Leicester can stay in the game against them, and towards the end it looked like maybe Leicester would win it."
Patience is key
Merson believes Lampard would be overachieving if he managed to sneak Chelsea into the top four this season, and says the inexperience of some of his squad, including the impressive Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, should allow him more time.
Youngest starting XIs - averages this season
|Man Utd||24 years, 312 days|
|Southampton||25 years, 22 days|
|Norwich||25 years, 68 days|
|Chelsea||25 years, 88 days|
|Bournemouth||25 years, 220 days|
"I like Frank, and I think you get experience as you go. Would somebody else have played Mason Mount? He's a special player. And now Tammy Abraham has four goals.
"We only do this by learning, you don't get five games down the road and say: 'You're out of the team,' if they're not performing. You go back to square one like that. Patience, patience. These are young kids.
"Man City and Liverpool are so far ahead of everybody now, this is a different situation. If Chelsea finished in the top four this season, Frank would get manager of the year, in my opinion."
If Chelsea finished in the top four this season, Frank Lampard would get manager of the year.
Entertainment not always paramount
Merson also appreciates that Lampard, as both a Chelsea legend and inexperienced manager, may feel inclined to entertain the crowd when his side are leading. His advice to Lampard would be to 'Do a Mourinho!' and take the points.
"Winning games is a hard thing to do when you've lost your best player, and one of the best players in the world in Hazard. Frank is up against it. I think he'll get patience, but at the moment, I think you don't always have to entertain. Do a Mourinho!
"You sometimes think in a job: 'Oh, I have to keep entertaining here, otherwise the fans are going to get the hump!' In the end, you don't need to do that, you need to be clued up, take the three points."