Man, this just keeps getting better and better.
First, New York City -- and, what the heck, City Football Group -- engaged in five months of dissimulation, artfulness, and guile regarding Frank Lampard's contract situation. Think I'm being harsh? First, they announced his signing with great fanfare, proclaiming that he had signed a two-year deal effective August 1st.
"I am really excited about joining New York City FC and helping to play a real part in building something special in one of the sporting capitals of the world," said Lampard. "The passion of the nation's fans at the World Cup was second to none and I am looking forward to meeting New Yorkers and tapping into their love of the game. It is a privilege to be able to help make history here in New York City - I just can't wait to get started and be part of it."
Then, Manchester City announced that he was joining them on loan on August 6th. Conveniently, the announcement is no longer on the team's site, but you can read it, thanks to the Internet Archive.
Frank Lampard has joined Manchester City ahead of his debut season with affiliate club New York City. Lampard was recently unveiled as New York City FC's fourth signing. After meetings with manager Manuel Pellegrini at City's New York headquarters, it was decided that Frank will train and play with the Premier League champions ahead of teaming up with Jason Kreis' New York City set-up for their inaugural season.
Now that Lampard is staying in Manchester until the end of the Premier League season, manager Manuel Pellegrini is hinting that Lampard might well stick around the neighborhood. He showed a certain level of tetchiness when answering questions about Lampard after today's game.
"Maybe all the New York fans, and I understand perfectly, want to see Frank playing because for the fans in New York to see Frank play is an amazing thing. I hope that he will be there next year but I think that in this moment the best decision for him, for the club, for New York is to stay here with us."
When pressed why he had said only "hope" regarding Lampard playing at NYC next season, Pellegrini refused to clarify that the midfielder would definitely do so. Pellegrini said: "You are talking May or June? You cannot have all different questions about Frank Lampard. He will stay now with us until the end of the season. In May maybe you can start thinking about what will happen in the future. He will stay with us until May."
Asked if there was any chance Lampard could move to NYC before the end of the season, Pellegrini added: "No. When you asked me before we qualified for the Champions League if there is some link between the situations, I always said no and Frank knows exactly what I think about that. He will stay here until the end of the season, no problems about that."
It's all there on display: Pellegrini's arrogance in claiming understanding of New York City fans feel after last night. The strange notion that having one of your two star players playing 3,000 miles away for another team is "the best decision". The artifice and dissembling about when Lampard will play.
It would be beautiful to see, if it weren't so maddening. It's also par for the course when it comes to big-money soccer, obviously, but that's no reason for New York City fans to be mollified. Obviously, nothing's final until it's final, but if last night was any indication, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting to see Lampard playing at Yankee Stadium -- for New York City, not Manchester City.