Chelsea have had more managers than Leicester have had Premier League home wins this season.
With that in mind, you’d think the growing army of jobless managers out there wouldn’t touch the club with a bargepole. Yet there is one man who simply cannot say no, like a lovelorn old boyfriend who keeps going back for more.
Frank Lampard has shown remarkable devotion by answering the SOS from stricken chairman Todd Boehly and going back to the club where he was sacked just over two years ago.
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He will become the fourth man since August to try to pick a winning team from a dressing room comprising World Cup winners, A-list internationals and exciting young stars. It should be the easiest task in the world but it is proving beyond some of the greatest minds in football.
So Chelsea have turned back to Lampard, the one-time marauding midfielder who brought them so many trophies over 13 years as a player before getting the boot after only 18 months as head coach. Like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, Chelsea and Lampard de-coupled and are now giving it another go.
It all sounds wonderfully romantic and genuinely fingers crossed it goes well for Lampard. A principled and forthright man with a terrific work ethic and upfront approach. And had Chelsea not been putting it about with anything in a tracksuit since Lampard’s departure it would be just that.
Since he left, Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and Bruno Saltor have all had a go and ultimately failed.
Readers of a certain age will remember Joan Collins. An English actress, author and socialite with connections to high-society and soft porn. ‘Our Joanie’ got through husbands like a gap-year student gets through toilet roll touring India. Five in all. Pretty good going if not very tiring. Whether it was the money, the fame, the looks, nobody really can say. But Joan still pulled them in until she was almost 70.
It’s the same with Chelsea but Lampard in particular. He just cannot say no when really he should be sticking well clear. Having scored a record 211 goals for them as a rampaging midfielder, having won every trophy possible and taken Abramovich and Chelsea to the summit of football, he was sacked as manager after only 18 months.
Abramovich had found a new suitor and Tuchel was in place less than 24 hours later. The same occurred when Potter replaced Tuchel last September. At first you wonder what’s up with these men that they cannot keep their glamorous partner happy. Eventually you start to think there’s something wrong with the woman who cannot hold down a long term relationship.
Abramovich knew he had given Lampard the job too early in the first place. If he didn’t he should have. A mature and accomplished player he was, but just one season as a manager with Derby County before being handed one of the biggest jobs in world sport.
Yet Lampard took on the challenge because of his deep-seated affection for a team which made him feel loved after the fans turned on him at boyhood club West Ham. There was no way he could say no.
On the day of his appointment Lampard confessed his illustrious past as a serial cup-winner on the pitch would count for nothing as manager. He was spot on. That loyalty was rewarded with the boot, making way for Tuchel to pick up the pieces and win the Champions League that same season.
The period from January 2021 to now has been the most turbulent and tumultuous in Chelsea’s 118 year history. The club is in different hands now with American Todd Boehly at the helm in place of exiled Abramovich. Yet despite the rhetoric about long-termism, they are still sacking managers like Leicester lose matches at King Power Stadium. More this season than in any other.
Lampard admits Chelsea is ‘my club’ but is quick to insist he is coming back purely for professional reasons. Most Hollywood marriages are more like business relationships than schmaltzy true love stories. Lampard wants to prove he can cut it as a top flight boss. He has been sacked twice by two different Premier League clubs already and is still only 44.
The awkward part of this whole reunion will come at the end of the season if he does a good job. The contract runs out in June but if it goes well how will he say goodbye again?
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