Chelsea must “be realistic” about their top-four hopes and give Frank Lampard time to succeed, according to Jamie Redknapp.
Chelsea have already lost Eden Hazard to Real Madrid this summer – but will not be able to re-invest the hefty fee received for him until this time next year due to the two-window transfer embargo they are currently serving.
They have also been unable to add to their goalscoring ranks for 2019/20, leaving them with Olivier Giroud – who scored only two Premier League goals last season – and the untested Tammy Abraham alongside previously out-of-favour striker Michy Batshuayi to lead the line.
With that in mind, Redknapp says Chelsea, who finished inside the top four by two points last season, should temper their expectations under Lampard and give the incoming Derby man time – at a club where patience has often been in short supply under past regimes.
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He told Sky Sports News: “It’s a great move, not just for Frank but for Chelsea too. It’s astute, you need someone who can stabilise the club somewhat when you’ve lost your best player and under a transfer embargo.
“They’ve got one of their own, the fans adore him. He’ll need time, there’ll be a lot of changes; you can’t bring any personnel in to replace a big-name star like Eden Hazard. He’ll need to be given time, but he will – because he’s Frank Lampard.
“The expectation will be to finish in the top four, but they’ve got to be realistic. I think there’ll be moments in the season where it’ll be a struggle, because of the Hazard effect.
“It doesn’t matter what manager you have – Guardiola, Mourinho, anyone – they are going to struggle without that quality of player. But if they were to finish in the top four, that would be an amazing season considering the embargo and everything else.”
Questions have been asked whether the job has come too quickly for the Chelsea legend, who won three Premier League titles as a player at Stamford Bridge, but takes the reigns at one of England’s biggest clubs after just one season in management.
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“I know he enjoyed his time at Derby, he had a great rapport with the fans but you can’t turn something like this down,” Redknapp said.
“Everyone will have their opinions, some people will say it’s too early for Frank, other people will say it’s the right time, but for someone like Frank – he knows the game, he’s worked with some of the best managers in the world, and in terms of timing it is the right time.
“The players will respect him, and patience will be the key.”