Feb 8, 2007

In defence of “Fat Frank”


England have this midfielder called Frank Lampard. It's not actually a name used very often by fans up and down the country, and he is certainly one of the most criticised players of the current crop of England players.

And, do you know what? I don't really understand it.

Everyone calls him “Fat Frank” for a start. It seems to just roll off the tongue and is in such popular use that I sometimes wonder why he doesn't have “Frank” on the back of his shirt, given that his first name appears to be “Fat”. He's not actually fat, mind, but, hey, it's a decent insult and the words start the same, so it's clever, innit? (It's alliteration, actually, but let's not get too complicated here...)

At International level, he suffers because he's part of the biggest dilemma England managers face, involving him and Steven Gerrard, who, despite both being talented players, appear completely incapable of playing alongside each other. This has often seen Frank forced to play on the left of midfield – as he is in the friendly with Spain which is on as I type. It's not his best position, but people would rather have FF out of position than Stevie G, la, who is a world beater week in, week out for Liverpool and bloody useless for England.

At club level, he's really hated. A lot of that vitriol comes from people defeated by deflected goals of his. That's his other trademark, you see. He's fat and he only scores deflected goals. Ask a Liverpool fan (them again?) and they'll tell you “Fat Frank only scores deflected goals” until the cows come home.

But the fiercest hatred comes from fans of his old club West Ham. They hated him when he played there, said he was rubbish most of the time. Then they sold him to Chelsea for £11million. 11million quid for a player you think is shit? Well, that's actually a good deal, rather than a reason to hate him all the more, but football fans are a funny bunch.

Well, I'm not a Chelsea fan, I'm not a West Ham and I'm not a Liverpool fan. From the outside, I see a talented midfielder who gets up and down the pitch, gets into excellent scoring positions and converts them with the sort of strike rate a lot of strikers would be delighted with. Ask his team-mate Mr Shevchenko.

I see a player who was promising – if never quite outstanding – at West Ham. Nearly 40 goals in less than 200 appearances, which ain't bad for a fat midfielder. And then Chelsea came calling. They probably paid over the odds for him back in 2001 (before Abramovich's millions arrived) but he has become a vital part of their side as they have won back-to-back Premiership titles.

So far, he has 86 goals in just over 300 appearances for the Blues – another superb strike rate for a midfielder – and no matter if they are deflected, you still have to hit them. Given that Peter Crouch is still claiming that one against Wigan a year or so ago, it doesn't actually matter that much... And in his 49 caps for England, he's got 12 goals. Again, that's a more than pleasing record for a midfielder.

I'm not saying for a minute that I think Lampard is one of the greatest players ever seen, but he's a good player and gets far more stick than he deserves from all concerned... But somehow, even if he single-handedly drags us to Euro 2008 glory, I can't see it ever changing.

~ JonP


Slates said...

FF over-rated? Surely this is just West Ham fans and everyone who hates Chelsea that think he is over-rated?

His record is phenomenal.

Mash said...

He's rubbish. Not JonP.