Comment: Why Frank Lampard’s interim return makes perfect sense for both him and Chelsea
Frank Lampard has returned to Chelsea as caretaker manager until the end of the season and his appointment makes sense for both him and the club.
If there’s one thing that can be said about Lampard as a manager, it is that he’s certainly not afraid to take on a challenge. After a successful debut season with Derby County in the Championship, Chelsea hired the club legend in the summer of 2019 to succeed Maurizio Sarri.
The Blues had just won a Europa League with the Italian but entered the 2019/20 season at a disadvantage following a transfer ban and the sale of Eden Hazard. The task was a daunting one, even for the most experienced of managers. However, Lampard returned to west London and drove the team towards an unlikely top-four finish.
Although things didn’t end as desired, Lampard built the infrastructure that Thomas Tuchel relished in the second half of the following season. From Mason Mount through to Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori, the he brought through a variety of Cobham talents that were a huge part of the club’s path to Champions League glory in 2021. Many of those players are excelling, whether it’s still with Chelsea or even in other parts of Europe.
Lampard’s next challenge was of course at Everton, who looked relegation bound at the time of his appointment. The 44-year-old did keep them afloat in the end, although things weren’t meant to be once again in the long run. Just less than three months on from his Goodison Park departure, he finds himself back at Stamford Bridge while Chelsea search for a permanent successor to Graham Potter.
“It’s a pretty easy decision to make,” he said on his temporary Chelsea return. “This is my club. In terms of my playing career and having coached here before. I have a lot of emotions and feelings towards the
Albeit until the end of the season, here’s why the appointment makes sense for both Chelsea and Lampard.
Frank Lampard provides stability
First and foremost, Lampard is a Chelsea man. Since the sale of the club to Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, the board have spent over £600 million on a range of talents, all of whom are all tied down to long-term contracts. A fraction of that sum was also spent on acquiring Graham Potter from Brighton & Hove Albion, who was put at the forefront of Chelsea’s blueprint following Tuchel’s sacking in September. The board showed faith and commitment to Potter and his project, but the defeat to Aston Villa proved to be the final straw.
The season itself has been a turbulent one to say the least. Factoring in the World Cup, the Queen’s passing, the international breaks, and Chelsea’s early exits from domestic competitions – the extended pauses between matches have stopped the Blues from building any kind of consistency and rhythm.
At this point, it’s understandable to see frustration bubbling in the Stamford Bridge turnstiles. The squad is bigger than necessary and despite the money spent, the Blues are lacking stability in a year that has seen so many changes within the football club.
With talk of a new stadium alongside the ever-changing members of the hierarchy, there is no better way for the board to get the fans onside by bringing in Lampard – a fan favourite who knows the club inside out.
Champions League football
When linked with the Chelsea job, there was criticism that questioned why the job made sense for Lampard. Why would he want to return to the club on a short-term basis? Well, the answer is an obvious one – one of them being Champions League football.
With nothing to play for really in the Premier League, Lampard can channel his entire focus and energy into winning Europe’s biggest prize for the third time in the club’s history. For any manager, this is a golden opportunity that would be incredibly hard to turn down. After departing the club in the season they went on to win the trophy, this is a glorious chance for Lampard to write his own history at the club he saw so much success with as a player.
The route to the final has already been drawn, with Lampard’s second game since appointment to be played against Real Madrid at the Bernabéu next Wednesday. Over the past two seasons, Chelsea have played the Spanish giants twice – famously eliminating them in 2021. The Blues also came close to a shock turnaround in the Spanish capital last year but were bitterly denied by a late Rodrygo in extra-time sucker punch.
In 2012, Lampard won the Champions League under interim manager Roberto Di Matteo. There’s no reason as to why he can’t repeat that same act eleven years later, especially considering it’s ‘do or die’ in the competition and the talent at his disposal.
To continue building as a manager
What is deemed as ‘success’ for a manager is entirely subjective. Some may view clinching silverware as being successful, whereas some are proud of aiding their team through a relegation battle. Bearing this in mind, it’s easy to comprehend why so many are split on Frank Lampard’s managerial CV.
Regardless, things didn’t end in the fashion Frank would have wanted during his first spell with the club, making this opportunity a difficult one to reject. After losing his job at Everton, an opportunity to coach again at Stamford Bridge is a step in the right direction – even if it is only until the end of May or start of June depending on their success in Europe.
Unless Lampard’s next few weeks are a complete disaster, this appointment will not be seen as a failure. There is such little pressure on Chelsea’s season right now which gives him the freedom to showcase what he can do whilst helping the club he breathes.
With that being said, there is a huge upside to the appointment should things go well. Nine players from Lampard’s final starting eleven in his first stint are still at the club. Factoring in the form the team were showing in the first part of his second season – where they were top of the league – it wouldn’t be out of this world to say they can recreate those results with the season rapidly winding down.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that Lampard has been appointed to fill the boots of Potter for the time being. The intent is to move on in the summer with Luis Enrique and Julian Nagelsmann the current two front-runners for the job. Should Lampard make a mark of his own, however, he may privately fancy his chances despite his public insistence of focusing on the short term.
Just as it was for his successor Tuchel, Lampard’s first game back in charge at Chelsea will be against Wolves on Saturday.
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