Lampard right to lean on Chelsea academy graduates while Werner and Havertz flounder

Mason Mount Frank Lampard and Callum Hudson-Odoi
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The manager's job would be on the line if he were to persist with his stuttering signings, and the current best solution is to trust the academy kids

Frank Lampard has found himself under immense pressure as Chelsea manager while new attacking signings Timo Werner and Kai Havertz flounder.

There were £220 million ($275m) worth of new arrivals in total during the off-season, but Lampard and Chelsea have been dragged down under the weight of expectation.

However, it is the club’s academy talent who are helping the boss find his way out of trouble.

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Werner and Havertz were among the substitutes at Craven Cottage for the west London derby against Fulham, and it was fitting that Mason Mount scored the only goal of the game to give Chelsea the victory and, in the process, earn himself the man-of-the-match award.

Mount’s 78th-minute strike eased some of the pressure on Lampard, although the manner of the victory was again underwhelming. Fulham had their USMNT left-back Antonee Robinson sent off late in the first half, meaning Chelsea struggled to break down a 10-man, relegation-threatened side for most of the second period.

Mount has been disparagingly labelled 'Lampard's son' by his detractors, but was nonetheless the only starter to show the personality to grind out a win in the midst of the club’s mini-crisis. He also hit the crossbar with a shot early on and made seven key passes overall that could have added more goal involvements to his record.

Indeed, the 22-year-old has been Chelsea's most consistent player in a poor run of form that had brought just one league win in six matches ahead of kick-off. The Cobham kids have been given a chance under Lampard that had been denied to graduates under previous first-team managers and they look set to pay that faith back.

"I thought Mason’s all-round performance was fantastic," Lampard said afterwards. "He has been very, very good for us last year and this year. His effort, attitude and quality of play was outstanding."

Like Mount, fellow youth graduate Callum Hudson-Odoi should be regarded as one of the world's most exciting young talents. He is Chelsea's next most in-form player and he found himself incredibly unlucky to be left on the bench after scoring in each of his side's last two games.

Frank Lampard quote GFX

For all the chances Lampard has given to academy talents, Hudson-Odoi is the one who finds himself getting the fewest opportunities to fail and he can be ignored no longer. With Werner in such poor form and with Christian Pulisic also putting in below-par displays since his return from injury, Hudson-Odoi should be trusted more often.

The only new attacking signing bucking the trend is Hakim Ziyech, who has performed fairly consistently in between his spells out with injury.

Ziyech has shown the resilience to take the blows that come with being a Chelsea player, but Werner's confidence looks shot. He snatched at three late chances to make it 2-0 on Saturday which led to a nervy last few minutes.

Lampard needs to lean on his academy talents with the rest of his new forward signings falling flat. He addressed his selection choices on the wing at Craven Cottage.

"Callum’s form has had a real uplift,” he said. “That’s part of Callum’s development, he is going by people and showing confidence. A lot of that will be to do with getting over his injury of last season.

"Hakim gives us something different and he was outstanding in the period before when he was fit when we were having a good run. Christian is a big threat for us, so when I have the three wingers fit, there’s one that can’t maybe start the game.

"They must come on and impact a game because generally a winger is where you make those substitutions and that’s fine.

"I had Leicester [Chelsea’s next fixture on Tuesday night] in mind and we will see how players react in the next day or two. In this busy, busy period, players will have to accept to be an impact player sometimes and then come in and start.

"For Callum, I am delighted with how he is playing at the minute and he is approaching it in the right way. He will get many, many minutes for us."

Mason Mount Tammy Abraham Callum Hudson-Odoi Chelsea GFX

Five of the last six goals have come from academy talents and Tammy Abraham, whose presence was felt from the bench, scored three of those. Billy Gilmour could have also been included after stringing together a series of positive performances since returning from injury. 

Despite being Chelsea's highest-profile signing, Havertz sat out the entire 90 minutes on the bench. It was a fair reflection of his recent performances despite Chelsea requiring a vital late goal against the Cottagers.

Eventually, these signings will come good but the braver decision right now is to leave them out rather than persist. Lampard will be aware that any desperate attempt to rehabilitate his failing new signings could cost him his job.

While some of them get used to the level, promoting the Cobham kids that earned him a fourth-place finish last season is currently the best solution.

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