When Aston Villa and Derby meet in the Championship play-off final on Bank Holiday Monday there will be a fascinating glance at what the future of Chelsea could like.
For both teams their focus will be on achieving promotion to the Premier League. But there is a wider narrative involved within both squads.
This game could provide Blues supporters with a glimpse of what life after Maurizio Sarri could look like.
For some reason, the Italian has come under fire this season. It’s questionable given the fact he’s secured third in the Premier League and is still faced with the prospect of a European final.
However, if he is to depart, this play-off final may be a catalyst for change at the football club.
Frank Lampard has done an exceptional job with this young Derby side so it’s no surprise to see him being tipped for bigger and better things.
He seems destined to manage Chelsea at some point and he could become Sarri’s natural successor.
Ahead of a play-off final, there will be no better time for him to show his credentials. Whether or not Chelsea think he has the capabilities to manage them in the future, this will be a fine litmus test for the big games.
If Lampard succeeds then he could be destined for greatness.
But he couldn’t have done it without Jody Morris this term, who has been the former Chelsea man’s assistant at Pride Park.
Morris has a fine reputation himself. He turned Chelsea’s U23 side into one of the most dominant youth teams in the land, winning five successive FA Youth Cup titles. The pair of them could well be the future of Stamford Bridge.
John Terry’s passion is unmatched and it would be remarkable if he isn’t back at Chelsea in some capacity down the line.
He leads by example and is someone the players clearly look up to. His transition from a player into a coach felt incredibly natural and you only have to flashback to his final year with Chelsea to see the impact he had from the dugout.
Blues fans can only dream of a management team containing Lampard and Terry, but next Monday they’ll be facing off against each other on the sideline, something that could give a fine indication of things to come.
Terry surely has visions of becoming a manager himself. His sheer motivational skills dictate that, but you wouldn’t put it past him to return to Stamford Bridge. Whether that’s alongside Lampard, however, remains to be seen.
From a playing perspective Tammy Abraham is the future of Chelsea. Over the past couple of years they’ve had problems in terms of finding a consistent centre-forward to lead the line.
The former Bristol City loanee has 26 goals this season for Villa and bearing in mind the London club’s transfer embargo, they simply have to give him a chance next term.
Yes, he failed to cut it at Swansea but he was still very raw. The striker is now a year older at 21 and has matured into a phenomenal young talent.
You sense that before he makes the jump to regular football at Chelsea he needs to sort out his composure. Once he addresses that, he’s someone who will surely play a big part in the coming seasons.
With or without Sarri, there is a future for Abraham at Chelsea. If that’s under Lampard, it would be fascinating to oversee. After all, the 40-year-old has already got the best out of some of the club’s young stars at Derby.
If anyone deserves a chance to prove his worth to Chelsea then he is certainly one of the main candidates.
With Chelsea’s embargo in mind, they’ll have to put an increased reliance on their young stars and if they succeed with it next season, Lampard would be the ideal man to come in and progress that philosophy further.
The former England international has shown impressive strides this campaign and, alongside Morris, they are the perfect duo to help academy talent flourish. You only need to look at the impact they’ve had on Harry Wilson this term too.
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From a defensive point of view Chelsea also have Fikayo Tomori. The centre-back has been a rock at the back for Derby and, with the Blues possessing a number of ageing defenders, there may be no better time for him to make it in London.
The play-off final will be a monumental test for some of these young individuals. It’ll be the biggest game of their careers. Yet, there should be more to come.
At Wembley on Monday, not only will the futures of Aston Villa and Derby be decided, but it could also have a big say on Chelsea.