Nobody knows the Premier League as well as broadcaster Martin Tyler, and ahead of the new season starting he has written an exclusive column for the Chelsea website looking forward to 2019/20, and the task awaiting Frank Lampard...
I have been fortunate to know both Frank Lampards, and to watch them shape their professional lives by making the utmost of their abilities.
Frank Senior worked tirelessly to forge an outstanding playing career at West Ham, his efforts recognised by two England caps some eight years apart.
His son and now the manager of Chelsea is a chip off the old block - and some!! That his pursuit of excellence now comes from the dug-out, and no longer the pitch, may even enhance his unrelenting drive in the game so loved and so well served by the Lampards.
There is a perception in the wider football world that Frank is in for an easy ride, a softer option, because Chelsea are encumbered by the transfer ban in this and the next window. Surely that will lower expectations? Not so! Definitely not so!
Firstly Chelsea will not settle for a less competitive season. They have a strong group of dedicated and determined players. Yes Eden Hazard, delightful on and off the pitch, has gone, but the earlier capture of Christian Pulisic offers plenty of intriguing potential, as was shown recently in Austria.
More importantly the new boss has never settled for second best, and Chelsea benefitted hugely from that approach in his 13 years as a player. He knows the standards inside out. After all, he helped set them.
Last month I was lucky enough to spend a week in the Far East, at the ninth Asia Trophy, a competition which Chelsea have won twice, including the very first such tournament in Kuala Lumpur 16 years ago. Roman Abramovich had just bought the club.
After that final I spent an hour back at the team hotel with a couple of the Blues’ winning squad. They confessed to feeling very uneasy about their futures at the club. The new owner was already splashing his cash. Fresh faces were arriving on a regular basis. Those concerned footballers were John Terry and Frank Lampard, but from day one of the Abramovich era they made sure that only the inevitable ageing process would render them surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge.
Under Frank’s remit and with the limitation on incoming purchases it should be a chance to shine for the homegrown Academy talent. The actual divide between the two buildings at Cobham is very short, but in terms of opportunity they have been miles apart. That should change under the new regime with Jody Morris in particular knowing the excellent work of Neil Bath and his coaching staff. However opportunity will only knock if the youngsters have the right attitude as well as the right levels of ability.
I confess an interest in Callum Hudson-Odoi, having coached his big brother Bradley at both Hampton and Richmond Borough and Woking. Callum was often there giving family support at our matches. Living locally I also occasionally bump into Ruben Loftus -Cheek in Cobham. Both are fine young men as well excellent footballers. Both of course also currently share the burden of Achilles tendon injuries. I hope the Sky Sports camera will be covering their return to action as soon as possible.
The season ahead will, at least at the start, be dominated by VAR. My stance has always been that it has to be tried. Traditionalists won’t warm to it. Youngsters, many of whom are hands-on with technology and gadgetry in other aspects of life, are more likely to take it in their stride.
I have been impressed with the way the Premier League, under the auspices of Mike Riley, have recognised that the fast-moving football which makes our game so watchable should not be threatened. But there will be delays and as far as I know there are no plans to let the public or indeed the commentators hear the deliberations of the VAR officials. I believe that should be the next step.
I sense that whatever happens there will be no turning back. Accuracy in the big decisions is the aim. Fiddling with the minor ones is not what the fans want, though of course they will love VAR when a decision goes for their team and hate it when the opposite happens.
I am really looking forward to the new campaign and my first Super Sunday is Manchester United versus Chelsea, a wonderful fixture for Sky Sports to beam around the world. Both Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have been summoned to rekindle the fires of their playing days at their respective clubs. Both will be utterly determined to succeed but importantly also have the dignity to do it properly.
Bring it on!