From Legend to Leader: A look at Frank Lampard’s second stint as manager of Chelsea

Svar Jain
By Svar Jain
8 Min Read

For the remainder of the current campaign, Frank Lampard will serve as Graham Potter’s interim replacement at Stamford Bridge as the club evaluates Luis Enrique and Julian Nagelsmann as prospective long-term replacements. Barely 26 months have elapsed since the previous Chelsea administration fired him, and after leaving his most recent position at Everton in January, the idea of a call from his old team could have seemed unlikely. The possibility of a spectacular return to Chelsea as interim manager, according to Frank Lampard, came out of nowhere, but he would not rule out accepting the position on a longer-term basis.

The 44-year-old is back, though, with the mandate to turn around a wobbly Premier League season and, in the immediate term, lead Chelsea past Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals. Although it is purportedly a temporary position, he refrained from acknowledging that his stay will end in two months. He remarked, “I’m not getting ahead of myself. I want to affect the club as much as I can during this time, and then we’ll see what happens after that.”

If they defeat the current champions, Real Madrid, comparisons to Roberto Di Matteo’s work in 2012, when he was elected interim manager in March and then led Chelsea to the Champions League before getting the position permanently, will be impossible to ignore.

Lampard remarked, “Roberto did an amazing job to remain on, but that’s a different moment in the club’s history. “I won’t make the decision to stay or go in that sense. I anticipate those inquiries, but what is crucial to me is to set them aside and focus on my work.”

Frank Lampard accepted the permanent position in July 2019 to a standing ovation, but he went empty-handed. “It’s not about unfinished business for me,” he declared. “It has a Hollywood vibe about it. All I want to do is work and contribute as much as I can to the club.”

On Saturday, Chelsea will play the Wolves at Molineux. Chelsea is now in 11th position, 14 points outside of the Champions League spots. By then, Lampard intends to have hired his backroom team, which is anticipated to comprise Ashley Cole, Joe Edwards, and Chris Jones.

Todd Boehly and Behdad Egbali, the club’s co-owners, issued a statement saying they were “delighted to welcome Frank back to Stamford Bridge. Frank is a legend at this club and a member of the Premier League Hall of Fame.

“As we continue our thorough and exhaustive process for a permanent head coach, we want to provide the club and our fans with a clear and stable plan for the remainder of the season. We want to give ourselves every chance of success and Frank has all of the characteristics and qualities we need to drive us to the finish line.

“We have an important game against Wolves on Saturday and then we will turn our attention to our Champions League quarterfinal in Madrid next week. And we are all going to give Frank our full backing as we aim to get the best possible outcome from all our remaining games.”

Lampard’s first spell

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After the conclusion of the 2018–19 campaign, Chelsea fired controversial head coach Maurizio Sarri and said that Lampard would take his position. Frank Lampard, though, was rejoining a team that was in transition. In addition to having a new manager, Chelsea also had a transfer ban, had lost the legendary abilities of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, and had lost the talismanic qualities of other players. As a result, Lampard was given the job of updating the team with youngsters from the renowned academy of the team.

Despite a bad start to the season — a 4-0 loss to Manchester United on the first day — Lampard swiftly turned things around and was named Premier League Manager of the Month for October. The team ended the season in fourth place, qualifying for the Champions League and making it to the FA Cup final. But Lampard’s second campaign was a different tale, as Chelsea struggled right away. The club spent a lot on Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, and Thiago Silva when the transfer restriction was overturned, but on-field performances declined.

At the end of January, Chelsea had dropped to ninth place in the league after an eight-match winning streak of only two, and Lampard had been fired. Lampard had the second-worst points per game (PPG) average of any Chelsea manager since Roman Abramovich took control in 2003 at the time of his dismissal, trailing only Andre Villas-Boas (1.70 PPG). Just recently, Graham Potter broke this record-low (1.27 PPG).

What to expect?

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Lampard’s teams have often played with a back four during his tenure at Chelsea and throughout his management career, with the 4-3-3 system being his most popular choice. While Potter experimented with several lineups and Tuchel favored a back three, Lampard is likely expected to choose the back four when he returns to Chelsea Bridge.

Mason Mount, who has been on the sidelines lately, is also most likely to be back in favor. During Lampard’s initial 18-month stint, Mount played 80 games, 14 more than any other player. Mount was a part of Lampard’s emphasis on developing young players, which was partly made necessary by the club’s transfer embargo. Under Lampard, Reece James and Tammy Abraham both have breakthrough seasons, and players like Connor Gallagher and Trevoh Chalobah will be looking to gain more opportunities.

While playing, Lampard frequently uses a center forward who is fixed, and Abraham made a quick impression on the new manager. In his first 12 Premier League games, he netted 10 goals, but his production dipped after that, and he lost his starting position in the second part of the season. No true No. 9 option means Lampard might have to change his approach to fit this Chelsea team.

Yet Lampard’s main concern upon his return will be increasing the number of goals scored, regardless of how he arranges his forward players. Despite having one of the most potent offensive lineups in the league on paper, Chelsea has only scored 29 goals in its 29 Premier League games this year—11 fewer than 19th-placed Leicester City.

Chelsea scored 67 goals in 38 games during Lampard’s first season in charge, trailing only Liverpool and Manchester City in terms of goals scored. For the remaining games, Lampard will bet that his renowned instinct for scoring will trickle down to his new charges.

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