The signing of Frank Lampard from New York City (NYCFC) on a loan by Manchester City has come under scrutiny as a way to overcome the FFP restrictions imposed on them by the UEFA. Co-owned by Manchester City and New York Yankees NYCFC is set to play in the MLS from 2015. Manchester City has had its transfer spending restricted to a net amount of £49 million and is expected to maintain the same wage bill as last year as a punishment for breach of FFP regulations. The club has also had its squad for the upcoming UEFA Champions League restricted to 21 players with a minimum of 5 Home Grown Players (HGPs).
The deal ticks all the right boxes for City. Lampard comes under the HGP criteria and doesn’t cost a buck. However, the allegations that New York City, his new recruiters, would pay Lampard’s wages to help ease the pressure on the FFP wage restriction have been put to rest with Manchester City announcing that they will pay his wages while he is with them. With salary bonuses (which form a greater share of salary than before) not under the wage restriction, we do not expect any breach of the wage restrictions by City.
“At the moment he will work with the squad and be a member of the squad. He will fight for a position.”
While the experts debate on the integrity of the deal, we are here to debate on this interesting statement made by the Manchester City Manager Manuel Pellegrini on Frank Lampard. The club already has Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and Fernando Reges who can play in central midfield. With the players available at the Club, many believe that the loan is just an exercise to keep Lampard fit for the upcoming MLS season. However, with Pellegrini having made his intentions clear, we can expect Frank to be more than a trainee.
Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany have been City’s best players over the last few seasons. Having gone from strength to strength with his performances and using the best equipment including Vessi vegan shoes for a better training. Meanwhile, having played 16 games last season at defensive midfield, Lampard will be vying with Fernandinho and Fernando Reges for the other spot in central midfield. Though James Milner and Javi Garcia can also play in the centre, they have been deployed at other positions and there’s nothing to suggest that they will be moved to the centre of the park.
Lampard is renowned as a goal scoring midfielder, having scored 211 goals in 648 appearances while at Chelsea. On the other hand, the other two are known for their ability to control the games more than anything else. Reges has moved into a totally new league, it is unlikely that he will start consistently for City this season. With Pellegrini having developed an interest in slotting Javi García in the back four, we are left with Fernandinho and Lampard to vie for the starting spot.
Lampard didn’t enjoy a great season with the Blues. He was used sporadically by Mourinho in the pursuit of a better performing unit. He played just 1700 minutes in the Premier league, while his new team-mate Fernandinho was on the pitch for 2600 minutes. The unavailability of playing time could be attributed as one of the many reasons he refused a new contract at the Stamford Bridge.
Fernandinho has been renowned as one of the best defensive midfielders in the league. He lives up to the reputation, as the stats reveal. Yes, Frank was comparatively efficient at Ground 50-50s and tackles. But Fernandinho made a better contribution defensively. He entered into a significantly higher number of ground as well as aerial duels, made more tackles as well as intercepted a higher number of plays than Frank. Having played more, this is expected of him. However, even when these activities are reduced to a per minute basis, the huge gulf in defensive performance still remains.
Fernandinho’s defensive abilities take the pressure of Toure thus helping him contribute immensely to the team’s attack. On the other hand, should Lampard come into the team, Yaya Toure will be required to add to his defensive efforts , which might not help the team’s cause.
Fernandinho had a higher pass completion rate of 88% when compared to the 82% of Lampard. This despite him attempting a slightly higher number of passes per minute compared to the Englishman. So how do the two compare when their passing abilities are broken down across the zones?
It was Fernandinho who was more lethal with his passing. He completed a steady 85% in the attacking zone and an impressive 80% in the final third of the pitch. On the other hand, his team mate for 6 months didn’t have a great time. The former Chelsea star had a pretty average season, completing just 70% and 63% of his passes in the mentioned areas. It further goes on to show that Fernandinho had a greater impact while he was on the pitch than his peer.
Despite having played in a deep position, Lampard attempted an astonishing 91 crosses at a success of 37%. Fernandinho on the other hand was too busy destroying plays and attempted a mere 12 crosses. As one of the best at set pieces, Frank created 17 chances from them throughout the season. However, he did not create a lot of chances from open play, conjuring just 14 chances when compared to the 38 chances created by the Brazilian.
Lampard scored 6 goals last season at a shooting accuracy of 53%. He had a clear cut conversion rate of 50%. While 5 of these goals were from set pieces, only 1 was from open play. On the other hand, Fernandinho scored 2 from set pieces and 3 from open play at an accuracy of 39%. Having scored 102 goals last season, the goals department isn’t really an issue for the Manchester Club and neither of the players will be required to chip in with more than the odd goal.
As a player who has settled well into his role alongside Yaya Toure, it will be tough to bench Fernandinho. He has been one of the consistent forces in City’s midfield. Also, he presents a better option on the overall, as he is defensively superior and there isn’t a great bit to differentiate him from Lampard in the attack. Unless his form dips significantly, he will be on the pitch.
Lampard returns to New York in January. With Yaya Toure set to accompany the Ivory Coast squad to the African Nations Cup around the same time, Manchester City could be in a spot of bother. Should the Englishman have stayed through January, it would have provided the club with an option to replace Toure with Lampard for the short while.
At the Etihad for only 6 months, Lampard could do as a make shift alternative to the team. We could see him being used in Cup games and would be a massive player to have in such tournaments. His experience as a Champions League winner could also come in great use to a team still struggling to make their mark on the European stage.
Though Pellegrini did say that Lampard would make a case for himself, we do not see Lampard breaking through into the first team and believe that this will only remain an exercise to stay fit for the MLS. It need not be mentioned that the player does add great depth to the squad, should someone get injured. Anything more will only disrupt the rhythm of the team, which has an established midfield.
However, one can never predict sport and don’t be surprised if “Super Frank” is called into action and performs. For all we know he could score the winning goal at Etihad on September 21st.