Frank Lampard has been a revelation as Chelsea manager this season.
With Chelsea under a transfer ban, few gave Lampard and his kids much of a chance of getting into the top four and a place in next season’s Champions League.
Lampard has been a breath of fresh air, happy, joking and enjoying the ride.
But suddenly, with the transfer ban lifted, there is a different feel around Chelsea with greater expectations in the air.
There has been pressure to make a big-name signing to boost the squad and that would come with greater expectation from owner Roman Abramovich in terms of what constitutes success at Stamford Bridge.
Without doubt, Lampard has been feeling the strain during January and, like a lot of managers, will be very happy when this window shuts.
But make no mistake, Chelsea having the transfer ban lifted has been a game changer for Lampard and expectation levels this season.
Perhaps that explains why Chelsea have not gone crazy so far in this window as Lampard wants to keep things at a reasonable level while also ensuring the kids are not suddenly edged out of the first team.
However, people would do well to remember the odds were stacked against Lampard at the start of the season. And if Chelsea do finish fourth then it should go down as one of the best pieces of management in the Premier League.
West Ham left red faced by official flag waver
West Ham were left red-faced after one of their official flag bearers took part in the pre-match pomp and ceremony – while wearing a GSB Out T-shirt.
The Hammers fan applied by e-mail, arrived wearing a West Ham top and then got changed before keeping his coat zipped up during the briefing before the Liverpool game on Wednesday night.
West Ham fans have turned up the volume on protests against the club’s owners David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady as they are stuck in a fight against relegation.
Joint-chairman Gold deserves some credit during one particularly sycophantic radio interview for showing some humility towards the fans by railing back on a ridiculous question and admitting the club has fallen short of the lofty targets set when they moved to the London Stadium.
Eden Hazard’s lovely gesture to Chelsea stalwart
Chelsea press steward Brian Pullman is one of the most loved people in any press room up and down the country.
He has been at the club for more than 40 years and is now in his 80s.
Brian asked Belgian journalist Kristof Terreur to send his regards to former Chelsea star Eden Hazard when he next saw him in Madrid.
Kristof duly obliged and Hazard, remembering the chats they would have at the club’s training ground, sent back a signed No.7 Real Madrid shirt for Brian who was suitably chuffed to receive it. Class.
Arsenal’s change in attitude to super agents
Arsene Wenger very proudly boasted that Arsenal would refuse to deal with “super agents” during his 22 year reign at the club.
Two years later, there has been a seismic shift under technical director Edu and head of football operations Raul Sanllehi.
Super agent Kia Joorabchian, who works closely with Edu, is now well ensconced, while Andre Cury – Neymar’s agent – and Arturo Canales – who works closely with Sanllehi – form a regular trio when it comes to getting deals done with the Arsenal hierarchy.
Canales represented Unai Emery when he joined Arsenal, was involved in the Bernd Leno deal and also represents new signing Pablo Mari.
Times have definitely changed at Arsenal as to who they rely on to get deals done and who is in the inner circle.
Brexit, a lack of money and Financial Fair Play blamed for quiet January transfer window
Rather than build the transfer window into an exciting showbiz event, it would be more interesting to know why it has been relatively quiet.
One leading agent described it as “dead and boring” while claiming Brexit, a lack of money and Financial Fair Play were the excuses given out by clubs as to why they have not been breaking the bank so far in January