Chelsea legend explains how Lampard usurped ‘the master of surprise’

Former Chelsea star Pat Nevin explained how Frank Lampard got the better of Jose Mourinho in the Blues’ 2-0 victory over Tottenham on Sunday.

Mourinho, who won three Premier League titles in two spells at Stamford Bridge, shared a touchline with Lampard, who once starred for the side he led to so much success.

Lampard’s decision to switch to a 3-4-3 system allowed his team to control proceedings at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Mourinho unable to respond to an unexpected tactical tweak.

Former Blues star Nevin told the club’s official website: “There are plenty of top-flight managers that are wedded to one system or variations on one system.

“[Antonio] Conte was famously and successfully like that with us in his first season. But you take a chance if you become too rigid. Others can prepare all the more easily to block you.

“Maurizio Sarri was the same in terms of rigidity of system and he also managed to get success for a period, but there are times when adaptability is just as important, if not more.

“That is what has arguably been most impressive about Chelsea this season, the willingness to change and the ability to change for different situations.



“It is clear by Jose’s remarks that the changes Frank made, he absolutely didn’t see coming for a moment. Jose has often been the master of surprise and the unexpected, so it must have been quite a shock to be usurped in this area by a relatively new manager.

“Maybe even more surprising was that Jose didn’t seem to be able to react to it quickly enough either.

“He must have quickly spotted that things weren’t working but it was only when his side were 2-0 down that he brought on [Christian] Eriksen for[Eric] Dier and changed his team’s shape noticeably.

“For the man who has regularly made substitutions in the first half to save a situation he was surprisingly reticent to do it this time even though his team were second best by a distance.

“Maybe he didn’t want to upset any of his players this time, but that isn’t usually his modus operandi.

“So well done Frank but that is only round one against Jose Mourinho and doubtless he will be back with plans of his own next time.

“It must however secretly bolster our current coach’s belief in his tactical awareness, not that he had anything to be unsure about, but this was one of the big dogs in the game being outmanoeuvred and outthought.”

Chelsea now have a four-point cushion in the Champions League places and will be back in action on Boxing Day against Southampton, before wrapping up 2019 in another derby date with Arsenal.


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