Chelsea defeat of Wigan Athletic fails to mask unanswered questions of Frank Lampard’s future at Stamford Bridge
Even the good days illuminate the dysfunction at the heart of Chelsea. A 4-1 victory should have been an afternoon of relief for Rafael Benítez, an ultimately comfortable win relieving pressure over his position.
But when the goal that settles matters comes from Frank Lampard, a club legend within touching distance of an all-time goalscoring record left hanging over a new contract, the questions do not get any easier.
Asked if Lampard could continue playing until the World Cup and beyond Benítez sniffed a bear-trap. “I think he can do a job on Thursday [against Sparta Prague] I will be very pleased with that,” he replied, mindful that a ringing endorsement might be seen by the club hierarchy as questioning a decision beyond his pay-grade.
Eventually the interim Chelsea manager conceded the obvious, that Lampard, a man of dedication and discipline, can continue at the highest level to the summer of 2014 and perhaps beyond. He just would not say where.
“Yes [he can play until the World Cup]. He is a good pro. In the training sessions he works very hard like the rest of the team so he is fine. It is difficult to say [how much longer he can play]. But if he has no injuries he can still play at a good level,” Benítez said.
Benítez can be forgiven for being guarded. Every meaningful decision beyond selection and tactics for the next game is beyond his control at Stamford Bridge.