James Lawton: Frank Lampard's wise old head offers timely reminder to Rafael Benitez that every revolution needs a leader

Chelsea midfielder Lampard looked about as passé as a newly crowned world champion

If the true test of any revolution is not the slaughter of lame ducks but successful hand-to-hand fighting in the meanest of streets, it is time to acknowledge the one Rafa Benitez has vowed to achieve against so many odds at Chelsea.

He may still be a long way from the presidential palace but the victory at Everton was by far the most searching test of a manifesto which has promised a late but significant entry into the Premier League title race.

However, nothing is simple at Chelsea, not even the winning of the Champions League, and it was entirely typical of Benitez's situation that the man who delivered yesterday's triumph under the most biting of pressure had already been pronounced time-expired by the Stamford Bridge hierarchy.

Frank Lampard, almost inevitably in all the circumstances, looked about as passé as a newly crowned world champion when scoring his 191st and 192nd goals for the club he has served with such astonishing consistency for more than 10 years.

As Benitez frowned and scribbled his notes, Lampard, aged 34, went about the business of subduing a ferocious and at times deeply impressive Everton.

When he had done his work he ran to the Chelsea fans and touched the badge on his shirt. It was a political statement, as had been his performance, of impeccable timing, but less flawless was the explanation that came later. "I went to the fans because they are the club."

No, they are not and they know it well enough, which is why their protests at the appointment of Benitez reached industrial levels. But then what can any paid servant do about that? Nothing except remind their employers of that which they do best at the most opportune occasions.

This, surely, was one both for Lampard and Benitez. The player gave a tour de force of his great virtues, a brilliant sense of where to be at the most important moments and a superb presence in front of goal. Benitez's virtues were best captured in this most recent evidence that he knows how to tighten a defence – something which must still haunt the fallen Roberto Di Matteo as he asks himself why he didn't think of putting the bold David Luiz out of harm's way in midfield.

What Benitez might allow, in more reflective moments, is that he did not exactly inherit a lost cause. However you measure the contribution of a coach, Chelsea gave a reminder at Goodison Park that they lack neither competitive character nor some of the most enviable football talent that money can buy. That is a reality that was also reflected by the fact that when Di Matteo fell victim of the failed defence of the Champions League title, his team were still just four points off the top of the Premier League.

Maybe the most illuminating statistic of all before a game that brought a bombardment of them was Roman Abramovich's spend on severance payments for discarded coaches – an estimated £70m – exceeds the entire net cost of David Moyes' transfer dealings in his decade with Everton. Such a grotesque imbalance should really have confirmed Benitez's somewhat wildly interpreted old claim that Everton were indeed a small club but, though it probably didn't bring much comfort to Moyes and his men last night, the theory had been relentlessly shredded by the final whistle.

Chelsea came through because of much inherent talent and character and a tactical certainty that became more apparent as the game wore on, but what they couldn't achieve, no more than any other team in England, was any dwindling of respect for the scale of Moyes' achievements.

We cannot know the consequences had Nikica Jelavic's free-kick not hit a post so soon after Steven Pienaar's 63-second opener, or his brilliant header not struck the crossbar in the last moments, but there was no doubt about the persistent force of the Everton effort. For Chelsea the difference between winning and submitting was the profound one declared by Lampard. It was about that which separates even the most talented players from those who have the will and the eye to shape events quite relentlessly.

Lampard never achieved this quality for England – at least not in the routine way he puts it at the disposal of the club who, we are told, no longer see a place for him beside such prospective luminaries as Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Ramires. Benitez broke the news as a fait accompli the other day but now he must, surely, be wondering if it is a decision that warrants more serious resistance than a shrug.

Even the most promising of revolutions needs the guiding light of a wise old head. Benitez might be smart to reflect that the one he is attempting to nurture is not yet so strong that it can easily do without Frank Lampard. Put another way, it may be a little soon to make him the next victim of Madame Guillotine.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own