Can old guard lead Chelsea to the biggest prize?

 

The name of Andre Villas-Boas was scarcely mentioned at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night but for Frank Lampard, Chelsea's second-leg comeback against Napoli was all the evidence he needed to make his point about the value of the club's old guard.

Chelsea go into the Champions League quarter-final and semi-final draw this lunchtime as the only English side left in the competition and with Villas-Boas's purge of certain senior players suspended.

Left out of the last England squad by caretaker manager Stuart Pearce and dropped to the bench for the first leg of the Napoli tie, Lampard, more than any other, had lost the most under Villas-Boas. Asked whether the 4-1 win over Napoli had disproved the theory that Chelsea's old guard needed replacing, Lampard said: "A lot of that gets said from the outside. People who are here just want to win games and you need your old boys, or your experience, as well as you need the young ones and their enthusiasm.

"The amount of nights that Didi [Drogba] has stood up, the amount of nights that John [Terry] has stood up, is what Chelsea are all about. If that can get us a result like that then we go with it. You can't win these sorts of competitions without that.

"You're not talking about old boys whose careers are flitting out. They're players that want to play, players that want to win. You can see that."

The obvious question was whether Chelsea's players would have served up the kind of performance they did on Wednesday with Villas-Boas still manager. Given that Lampard and Ashley Cole did not start the first leg there would have been no guarantees that they would have done so under the Portuguese at Stamford Bridge.

"It's too hypothetical a question," Lampard said. "We can't say whether we'd have won or not. We performed well. We performed well at other stages this season. Obviously, consistently, we haven't performed well enough. Whether we could've done or not, it's the same players.

"You see it time and time again: when managers change, the fortunes of the team change. That's just the way it is – I don't know why."

Wednesday's win does not change the fact that Lampard, Drogba (together, right), Terry and co will not be able to go on forever. The suggestion that Drogba is delaying a decision on his future to see whether Jose Mourinho returns this summer.

The man whose goal settled the tie, Branislav Ivanovic, 28, is along with the likes of Ramires and David Luiz, one of the potential mainstays of the future, claimed age did not matter. "I cannot agree age makes you old or young," he said. "It depends what you give on the pitch."

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