The Frank Lampard preservation society offers another glance into the complicated mind of Chelsea’s aging midfield genius. In this chapter, Frank teeters between depression and elation. He also re-brands himself as the walking man’s player, not to be confused with the thinking man’s player.
APRIL 7, 2012
It’s been less than a month since Mr. Manager Gopher left, yet the clouds have parted and the attitude at training has totally changed in Chelseaville. For example, before, the younger players would gather in a circle around that Villas-Boas turd and listen to him. Meanwhile, we the veterans would just kinda roll our eyes and make faces. Now, however, the young players gather in a circle around the veterans. JT and me will lead them in stretching and then tell them what to do. Then, Di Matteo, the “coach”, will repeat what we say verbatim. It’s a lot less confusing this way.
And our league form has improved for it. Today we beat Wigan 2:1 and now lurk super close to the top four. I didn’t play or make the bench for obvious tactical reasons: Wigan is a bottom club and not worthy of kissing the mud off my boots. I also was still exhausted from orchestrating our 4:2 demolition of Aston Villa a week earlier. I didn’t play, we won, but more interestingly, I’ve really taken to this “regista” role that Di Matteo has me playing. Basically, I walk around next to a midfielder that tackles, wins the ball, and then passes to me, and then I pass to an open teammate. I definitely miss my dashing box-to-box walks of years past, but I always welcome a new challenge, especially when it sounds foreign and exotic and Italian. I’m no native speaker, but I believe “regista” translates to the present tense of “he who stands still.”
So, yeah, no “regista” for Wigan, but that little Juan Mata scored a screamer, so all’s well. I’m even getting along well with Ka-loser!
APRIL 15, 2012
Ahh Spurs. What can I say about Spurs that is not immediately communicated by saying very slowly the word “Spurs”? We won today at Wembley and I, of course, scored a goal. Granted, Juan Mata scored a non-goal, but when you win 5:1, you can’t really go complaining about phantom goals and whatnot. It’s not like Juan Mata is Luis Garcia and that errant call decided an important Champions League semifinal. Although, it is kinda odd that Spaniards do that. Very unsporting, if you ask me, like how Barcelona just pass the ball to teammates instead of trying to dribble and score goals. Regardless, little harm, no foul.
The big news, of course, is our looming date with Barcelona. We’ve beaten them a few times before, but they look really really tough. A glance at the roster shows why: Thiago Alcantara, Victor Valdes, Cristiano Tello, Something Cuenca, the list goes on and on. It’s basically like they have a magical factory inside La Masia that produces world class talent each and every single year since the dawn of time and until the end of time. However, if La Masia is Willy Wonka’s wonderful chocolate factory, then Di Matteo has shown us a plan to break open that glass elevator (apologies for the crappy sequel reference).
Basically, our game plan is to defend with 10 and hoof the ball to Drogba. During practice sessions, we all stand around in our own box and practice booting it to Drogba. Then, Didier tries to trap the ball, falls down, and rolls around for a few minutes. Repeat: Boot. Trap. Drop. Repea:. Huff. Touch. Fall. Repeat. It’s mentally exhausting, yet also takes advantage of my unique ability to stand in pretty much the same place for 90 minutes straight. Now, I don’t want to say that I’m the greatest “standing” midfielder that England has produced in the last decade, but a glance around shows I just may be. Scholes is a quick walker and Gerrard runs (ran) well enough, but standing? Everybody imitates my posture, but few can match my erectness.
If I have to stand for 180 minutes straight without even blinking to beat Barcelona, then so be it.
NOTE ADDED APRIL 18, 2012
I am ever so elated! We beat Barcelona 1:0 on a glorious goal by Drogba today! I was so happy that I couldn’t even wait to get home so I pulled you out in the locker room and started journaling immediately! Kalou saw me writing in you and didn’t even make a joke – I think losing that African Cup of Nations on penalties and having been a shitty human being for every prior year of his life really changed him. He’s much more mellow, and there’s even talk that we may be friends on Facebook. And no, not my “public image” account, but my real life personal Facebook account for my friends and acquaintances.
However, David Luiz still sucks at life and even still exchanges texts with that Villas-Boas turdbag. However, Luiz-er didn’t even make the bench for the Barca game. Whew. I even helped with the goal – from my deep lying “regista” position, I picked Messi’s pocket, fed Ramires into space, and he crossed for Drogs. It was gorgeous. Plus, the best part is that I didn’t even have to do any of the running. This Di Matteo guy really knows what he’s doing. Watch out Camp Nou!
APRIL 24, 2012
It’s funny how much has changed so quickly. Last November, I was talking to my friend Michael Ballack about life in Germany. A move seemed inevitable. My agent fielded a call from Bayern or Borussia Something-ichzen. I even bought myself some lederhosen! In December, I heard a few offers from Major League Soccer of America. I thought for a moment that my time was ending. I was wrong. If I have one flaw, it is those milliseconds of insecurity that sometimes break through my titanium shield of confidence. I listened too much to the Luso-idiot. He said I was old. Now I realize that age is just a number, and a number is really just a letter that isn’t a part of the alphabet. Yes, the number would like to be a part of the alphabet, who wouldn’t? But the important thing is for that number to train hard every day and not listen to idiot letters that look down their nose and say the number is old and washed up and will never be a part of the alphabet.
In case you didn’t follow, we tied Chelsea today at the Nou Camp! Things started a bit poor – Gary got crocked, JT knee’d that little Chilean dude and got a red card (perhaps deserved), and then Barcelona scored two goals. Granted, we got a bit of luck when Messi missed a penalty, but I can understand why a weaker and inferior player could miss a penalty in such an important situation. I myself used to miss penalty kicks like that back when I was weaker and inferior. Today, though, I was my normally brilliant myself. Why, you ask, you inquisitive diary, you?
At 2:0, most teams give up. Not Lampard. I turned my walking into speed walking overdrive. Just before the half, I got a bit of the ball and saw Javier Mascherano running at me. Before I could say “didn’t you play for scousers,” I instinctively used every pound of my massive frame to hip check him to the ground, and then my Ramires radar reached red alert. I, of course, saw him making a run, served him on a platter, and that crafty little Brazilian chipped Victor Valdes! I was so shocked to see Valdes come off his line indecisively. Normally he does not do that and does not allow soft goals. Regardless, they made a mistake, and we capitalized. Ice. Cold.
In the second half, we defended bravely. I stood in our own box and used every ounce of my remaining strength to point at teammates and tell them to tackle. My voice got hoarse by the 70 minute mark! By the 80 minute mark, I had to ice down my forearms during breaks. But we held on. And Fernando Torres scored to seal the game! Once again, Victor Valdes oddly came off his line indecisively and Torres rounded him with ease. It was so odd, to see Valdes off his line. But, that’s life.
And now we have a major super big important date in May! No, not Mayday silly diary. Something even more special. Rest assured, I will be hitting the elliptical and doing one thousand curls a day to be ready to walk and point us to victory!
Elliott’s eBook, An Illustrated Guide to Soccer & Spanish, is available via iTunes on your iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch for only $5.99 right here.