SEVEN minutes of euphoria, followed by 83 minutes of cold, really hard reality.
Right after the flags, the banners, the songs of praise and the wave of early optimism, Frank Lampard’s homecoming ended with a grim sense of foreboding gripping Stamford Bridge.
On the day of his unveiling final month, Lampard had claimed that his legendary status as a Chelsea player would serve him for ‘only 5 minutes’ after the season got below way – and he wasn’t far incorrect.
This is a Chelsea squad ill-equipped to compete in each the Premier League and Champions League – comfortably the thinnest and least starry of the Roman Abramovich era.
A group which was outplayed by Leicester City for the final hour of this match and a single which will struggle to finish above Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes, let alone attain the leading 4.
As the club’s all-time top goalscorer and Champions League-winning captain, Lampard will acquire a decent assisting of patience.
And the wish of the Blues faithful to witness the blossoming of youth merchandise was apparent when Tammy Abraham was roared on to the pitch as a second-half sub – to tiny avail.
The concept that Lampard could harness the emotion and romance which surrounded his return and spur this inexperienced squad on to wonderful deeds was often fanciful.
Nostalgia ain’t what it utilized it to be. At Chelsea, it ain’t even what it promised to be eight days ago.
This beginning line-up study like the sort of side Chelsea utilized to field in the League Cup.
In the final 12 months, they have lost many planet-renowned names – the sainted Eden Hazard, David Luiz, Cesc Fabregas as properly as the misfiring strikers Alvaro Morata and loanee Gonzalo Higuain.
Thanks to their transfer ban, imposed for irregularities in the signing of young players, youth has been provided a uncommon likelihood.
The only difficulty is that Chelsea’s two brightest young talents – Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are at the moment injured.
And apart from these two, only centre-half Antonio Rudiger was absent from this, a third successive winless game below Lampard.
The 41-year-old darling of the Bridge got this gig immediately after just a single season in management due to the fact of his old club’s lowered situations – but he is possibly only now realising very how challenging this season will be.
Unless Chelsea can lift their transfer ban prior to January, it is unlikely to get a lot simpler.
Lampard will hope that children such as goalscorer Mason Mount will develop in stature but there is valuable tiny planet-class talent about to assist nurture the children.
In spite of a four- gubbing at Manchester United and a strength-sapping penalty shoot-out defeat by Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul, there had been a lot good power at the Bridge.
As kick-off approached, we had a ‘Welcome Household Super Frank’ banner on The Shed and a ‘Frank Lampard’s blue and white army’ on the Matthew Harding Stand.
And the PA announcer referred to ‘Frank Lampard’s Chelsea’ – just as ‘Frank Lampard’s Derby’ was often pointed out final term.
It had been 5 years due to the fact Lampard had been at his old playground wearing a Chelsea badge more than his ticker and he was provided a welcome which befitted his immense playing achievements.
And what a commence it was for Chelsea.
In the initially minute, Pedro volleyed into the side-netting, with half the stadium believing he’d scored.
In the second minute, Kapser Schemeichel pulled off a double save to deny Mount and Christian Pulisic.
In the third minute, Ricardo Pereira hacked off the line from a corner.
And on seven minutes, Mount created the breakthrough, hounding a dawdling Wilfried Ndidi as Leicester attempted to casually play it out from the back and firing previous an immobile Schmeichel.
“That opening spell was how we want to play,” mentioned Lampard.
But the power levels quickly dipped, though Leicester woke up and started to appear a far additional fluent and settled group.
N’Golo Kante, whose extraordinary dynamism is now Chelsea’s most redeeming good function, shot wide immediately after a cute Olivier Giroud back-heel.
But immediately after that, Leicester have been dominant – Jamie Vardy pretty much caught out Kepa Arrizabalaga, James Maddison rounded Kepa but couldn’t finish.
And midway by means of the second half, Ndidi created up for his early brainstorm by having in front of Cesar Azpilicueta and thumping dwelling a close to-post header from a Madison corner.
Leicester squandered two glaring possibilities to win it.
Very first Maddison picked up a Christian Fuchs pass, weaved his way into the box only to blaze more than.
And then Vardy dragged wide from Maddison’s by means of-ball.
Youri Tielemans forced Kepa to beat away his shot immediately after a speedy break and if Leicester had snatched victory, they would definitely have deserved it.
As for Chelsea, a overall performance which started with such guarantee ended with Kurt Zouma ballooning a hopelessly-optimistic shot more than from 35 yards.
Lampard refused to blame the fatigue from that midweek trip to Turkey and he thanked supporters for their warm welcome.
But Chelsea’s manager is a really hard-nosed and realistic man.
He knows complete properly that romance does not win you football matches.