It's not a stretch to say that even the most ardent Frank Lampard supporters are pleasantly surprised by the club legend's acclimation to management at Chelsea.

Months into his maiden first-tier managerial spell and amid the hindrance of a two-window transfer ban, Chelsea sit fourth in the league and have one foot in the Champions League last 16 ahead of Tuesday's test with Ajax.

Inexperienced and at-times wide-eyed in the second tier with Derby County last season, Lampard's inability to register new players and owner Roman Abramovich's U.K. exile seemingly had Lampard working on borrowed time from the start.

Instead, Lampard's largely flourished.

With more than a quarter of the league campaign in the rearview and Chelsea's return to the continent's elite competition going to plan, it's worth examining what Lampard has gotten right.

Enabling and empowering the kids

Perhaps it's ironic that a club slapped with a transfer ban due to its recruitment of 29 foreign players aged under 18 is thriving thanks to its kids.

Lampard wasn't afforded many choices in terms of player management, but the decisions he's made have worked out. The club's standout individual, the irreplaceable Eden Hazard, completed a long-rumored move to Real Madrid. Chelsea had one hand tied behind their back while the other held the door ajar for the crafty Belgian.

Academy products Fiyako Tomori, Mason Mount - both of whom played under Lampard at Derby - and Tammy Abraham were recalled from loans in the Championship. Expectations were understandably tempered.

Instead of shielding the precocious youngsters from the rigors of Premier League football, Lampard placed faith in the kids.

Despite Antonio Rudiger still recovering from a long-term injury to start the season, Lampard sold the German international's central defensive partner, David Luiz, to rival Arsenal. Luiz and the manager bumped heads, and instead of ceding to the Brazilian, Lampard shipped him out and handed Tomori the job.