“This year we want to try to build and come the summer we will build again. We have to understand that and it takes a bit of a process. We have to understand that the landscape has changed and try to bridge the gap.”
While Frank Lampard has had no problem spelling out his long-term ambition as Chelsea head coach, putting a timescale on when it can be achieved is difficult.
Last season Chelsea finished 26 points behind Manchester City, the current table has them 34 in arrears to Liverpool. Eye-watering deficits.
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Returning to genuine title challengers must be a gradual process, possibly taking three seasons when you compare to similar projects elsewhere, and yet there remains an expectation that the next transfer window will go a long way to determining what Lampard has regularly termed “bridging the gap.”
“It is a very dated phrase when people say: ‘You are Chelsea, there is no way you should be happy with fourth.’ No, the Premier League has changed,” Lampard said last month. “But what we must do is make the fans proud every time we play, show we are fighting to get better and better and better.”
That is an entirely rational summation but those fans must remain patient, framing their expectations around reducing the points deficit gradually.
Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund looks on during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund at Borussia-Park
(Image: Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
If it is 30+ this campaign, next season it should be halved. Twelve months later it needs to be closed again. Those are realistic goals. Demanding to overturn such a yawning gap in one off-season, however, is preposterous.
No one can question the relative success of the academy graduates this season, the vast majority exceeding expectations, but there is also an acceptance from within…