November 15, 2016
So, just who replaces Frank Lampard? NYC FC has to get younger, faster and solidify central defense
By Michael Lewis
Frank Lampard will be difficult to replace as a high-scoring midfielder.
Photo courtesy of NYC FC
It was about this time yesterday that New York City FC let the world know that Frank Lampard was going to leave the club at the end of his contract.
No big surprise.
Lampard had let it known that he wanted to pursue his English FA coaching license.
Still, City has some big decisions to make as to who will replace its Designated Player.
Where to begin?
Will the Blues opt for another aging midfielder or even striker?
Or will they try to shore up a defense that conceded goals and chances at an alarming rate, despite the team finishing second in the Eastern Conference in its second season?
If you shore up the back, the team, at least on paper, should be more effective. Besides, you should have strong players on the spine of the team and central defense has been a glaring weakness since Day One in Orlando in March 2015.
First of all, the Blues have to get younger and faster, especially at midfield. Lampard is 38 and while he was only second to David Villa to filling the net for the club and worked hard, the team needs speed on the outside.
Remember, Pirlo will turn 38 next May 38 and Villa will celebrate his 35th birthday on Dec. 3. While both stars performed at a high level in 2015, father time has a history of evening things out and slowing down the best of players. That goes doubly for strikers. Translated: Villa needs help up front. But then again, that has been a refrain we have been hearing since the first season.
So, it comes down to which position you want to fortify with a special player.
Well, the Blues don't have to make a splash with another big name. We've heard the name of German international midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger being bandied about. Schweinsteiger has experienced his struggles with Manchester United -- if Manchester City, NYC FC's parent club, wants to sign a player from the other side of the street -- and he could help fix some holes in the midfield.
That certainly would be an interesting acquisition. He is six years younger than Lampard and while he isn't as much an imposing goal-scorer, he would be a welcome addition.
As for finding a partner for Villa up front, you don't necessarily have to scour the world for a big name. Sometimes someone who can fit into the style of a particular system or style will suffice. Or perhaps someone who is hungry to show what he can do. Case in point: Bradley Wright-Phillips was an unheralded striker before he became a scoring phenomenon with the Red Bulls the past three seasons.
The best thing about soccer is that you're not limited to one market. There are players for every team, coach and style coming out of the wazoo. It is City's charge to find someone who can work in unison with Villa.
If not, the team could be hard pressed to duplicate this past season in 2017.
The logical choice would be a quality center back to partner with Luxembourg international Maxime Chanot because Frederic Brillant, well, let's say he has been much less than brilliant. I'd rather solidify the core and the back.
Head coach Patrick Vieira just might have some other ideas. We'll just have to wait and see.