Sometimes managers simply let young players sink or swim in the first team. After all, their jobs are on the line and they don’t have the time to nurture young talent. Others, like Frank Lampard, enjoy being mentors.
Anyone who has seen Tammy Abraham play knows there is a truly talented player in there, but there are areas of his game that need to improve if he is to become a top striker.
For one thing, his aerial ability is pretty poor for someone who stands at 6 ft 2. This campaign. he has won just 15.4% of his aerial duels and while some managers would just throw their hands up and simply say that he isn’t good enough, Lampard wants to help him improve.
It has been reported that coaches have been working on the 21-year-old’s hold up play and shooting from distance in extra training drills. On the latter, it seems the work is already paying off with his long-range strike in the 3-2 win against Norwich.
While his ability in the air won’t improve overnight, the potential is there. He won 67% of his aerial duels against Liverpool when he came on as a substitute in the European Super Cup. He was up against Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, both of whom are strong aerially, but he made a significant improvement.
Lampard can clearly see that this ability has yet to be harnessed, and you have to give the manager tremendous credit for putting faith in a player who is essentially a work in progress.
Some may say he can afford to with the transfer ban in place and he won’t be under the same pressure as previous Chelsea managers to get results. Even so, he could have simply kept the experienced Olivier Giroud in the team.
The Frenchman is always reliable and showed his quality in the Super Cup final, but he isn’t the long term future of the club, and Lampard clearly feels that Abraham has the potential to be the club’s number nine for years to come.
There will be poor performances and setbacks, but unlike some previous managers in the hot seat at Chelsea, Lampard will be patient. He will be encouraging Abraham to improve in training every day, and the extra drills show his determination and belief that the England international can make it. His four goals so far are hopefully just the start of Abraham repaying the faith of his manager.