Neil Humphreys: Strict Lampard a 'fine' manager
Chelsea boss' discipline works with a hungry side
On paper, Chelsea should be the most loathed club in the English Premier League.
That piece of paper is Frank Lampard's list of fines for team misdemeanours, which was leaked to the media this week.
The fines are as steep as they are arbitrary.
Turn up late for Chelsea training? Pay £20,000 (S$35,000). The phone rings during dinner? Cough up £1,000. Arrive late for a meeting? Fork our £500 per minute.
The positive PR generated from this leaked list?
As England manager Gareth Southgate finds himself stumbling between a rock (Joe Gomez) and a hard place (Raheem Sterling), Lampard basks in the public's admiration.
Here's a decisive young manager with his house in order. Here's a coach that actually gets his club's culture. The supporters are literally saying as much.
In Chelsea's 2-0 win against Crystal Palace, one chant was definitive.
We've got our club back.
And Chelsea have a little sanity back, perhaps.
Lampard's harsh fines, which were typed out and framed at the training ground, read like golden nuggets of discipline and common sense.
His 12 commandments could also be construed as an indictment of all that is grubby and gluttonous about the modern game.
Against Palace, Chelsea's starting line-up had an average age of 24 years and 88 days. Reece James made his EPL debut at 19. So many Blues are still boys.
But they are boys with more pound notes than days spent on the planet, easily capable of paying huge fines without breaking stride.
And yet, the response to the leaked list has been entirely positive, with the tough measures seen as further proof of a rising manager who understands the nature of the beast that spawned him.
Lampard's playing career successfully straddled two different eras. He started at West Ham in 1995, when full English breakfasts were often enjoyed within almost full English squads.
And he finished at Manchester City in 2015, when the EPL's youth academies incubated millionaires first and grounded footballers second.
Lampard went from cleaning the boots of West Ham skipper Julian Dicks to playing with kids who do not know what it's like to come up the hard way.
The 41-year-old was perfectly placed to examine the benefits and shortcomings of playing through the age of unimaginable wealth. In this regard, he has a unique EPL perspective that even Pep Guardiola and Juergen Klopp cannot share.
So it's not a coincidence that the multi-millionaire has banned the very men from the training ground that helped to make him a multi-millionaire.
As a late developer, Lampard harnessed his talent first, pushing aside all external distractions, no matter how lucrative. Once he was established, the money took care of itself.
How refreshing, then, to watch him take the ruthless ''football first'' principles that built his career and impose them upon his squad.
Of course, the Blues' twowindow transfer ban forces Lampard's hand to a certain extent, but such a simple analysis does the manager a disservice.
Lampard always set the strictest criteria upon himself, cajoling others to follow his lead. From player to manager, he still follows the same daily regimen, diet and fitness routines.
The job has changed. The mentality hasn't. He makes the most of his resources.
Last season, Jorginho was a slow, sorry example of Sarriball and Mateo Kovacic was too safe in possession.
Today, they rival N'Golo Kante's tenacity, morphing into midfielders built in their manager's image. Attack-minded.
Willian was rarely any of those things last season, in and out of the side and running out of reasons to be given a new contract.
But Lampard reminded the Brazilian of his tireless engine and the winger now leads by example.
He drags Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham into play and both forwards are profiting from the reinvigorated elder statesmen around them. Pulisic has scored five goals in three league games. Abraham already has 11 goals to his name.
The work ethic is infectious.
Despite their inexperience, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori are also demonstrating the discipline that their manager craves.
Lampard's coaching career remains in its infancy, but he seems to be showing a rare ability in handling the young, gifted and rich and the older, jaded and cynical, getting the best out of both.
He probably doesn't need a list of fines to maintain motivation, but he's using the financial penalties to remind his players of their unusual reality.
Their cash can't buy class. It must be earned. And Lampard is quietly turning Chelsea into one of the classiest sides in English football.
Chelsea first-team fines for 2019/20
- Late for match day/1st team departure: £2,500
- Late for report time for training: £2,500 (plus £2,500 for every 15 minutes thereafter)
- Late in gym for pre-activation: £1,000
- Late for treatment: £2,500
- Late for team meetings: £500 per minute
- Late for start of training: £20,000
- Phone ringing during team meal or meeting: £1,000
- Reporting in the wrong attire/kit for team travel and match days: £1,000
- Not travelling back on the team coach post match, without giving 48 hours notice to the manager or an assistant manager: £5,000
- Refusal or not turning up for corporate/community duties: £5,000
- Not reporting illness or injury before day off or 1 hour 30 minutes before training: £10,000
- Late for medical appointments: £2,500
All fines to be paid within 14 days, after which any fine outstanding will be doubled
*Source: British media. *£1,000 = S$1,750