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The Return of Super Frank – Chelsea Redemption

The return of Frank Lampard to Chelsea came as a surprise to many. Still relatively raw from receiving the sack at Everton in January, the Chelsea legend has been handed the reigns for a second time in his brief managerial career. While many remain justifiably sceptical of his abilities at the elite level of premier league management, it may be the first sensical action from Chelsea’s new owners.

New Owners

Chelsea have been lambasted for their egregious transfer spending and rash managerial decisions thus far under their new owners. A consortium of investors spearheaded by the American Todd Boehly, chair and CEO of Eldridge, along with Clearlake Capital Group, took control of Chelsea Football Club in 2022 after Roman Abramovich was forced to cease control of the club.

Mr Boehly has affiliations with both Baseball and Basketball teams in America, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Lakers respectively. Boehly arrived at the club with relative experience in running a sporting organisation, however, Chelsea has proved to be a different breed of animal up until this point.

Rash Decisions

Eager to stamp authority, one of the Boehly era’s first actions was removing beloved first-team head coach, Thomas Tuchel. During his tenure, Tuchel delivered the club their second champions league title, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup glory. Alongside this, he also led them to numerous FA and League Cup finals. He weathered numerous storms during his time, including the sanctioning of Chelsea’s former owner, Roman Abramovich, by the UK Government as part of a crackdown response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He was perceived as a statesman-like leader, and it was a shock to many when the new owners decided to remove him.

Speaking shortly after the sacking, Boehly said, “We just didn't have a shared vision for the future…it was about the shared vision for what we wanted Chelsea to look like.” This shared vision was something they thought they had found in Graham Potter, poaching him from Premier League rival Brighton.

Potter lasted just under seven months into the job, with a win percentage of just 38.7% against a total of 31 games. He leaves Chelsea sitting in 11th position which is deeply unfamiliar terrain for a club so steeped in ethereal success over the years. This is even after Chelsea rampaged the transfer market, brandishing a cool £600 million over two transfer windows. The decision to sack the world-class Thomas Tuchel, now at Bayern, was extremely premature and unfounded, adjectives which can be applied to other areas of their business until now.

A New Attitude

It seems with the recent missteps; Chelsea’s owners may finally be adapting to the suave nature of the Premier League. The appointment of Frank Lampard as Interim head coach connotes practicality. It is a decision that appeases the fans whilst simultaneously enabling the powers that be to conduct a thorough search for the next manager.

The obvious caveat is that Frank Lampard does not bear the managerial credentials that Tuchel or even Graham Potter did. Starting his managerial career with Derby County, he failed to get a promotion to the Premier League after losing the play-off final to Aston Villa. At Derby, he sported a 42%-win rate, which attracted Chelsea to him.

Frank seemed destined to manage Chelsea, however, when the opportunity did arrive it felt premature. Frank Lampard was appointed Chelsea manager in the 2019/20 season. That season saw him guide Chelsea to fourth whilst enduring a transfer ban, having to make the most of what was available to him. The following season led to his sacking as it saw Chelsea dropping to 9th .

His initial tenure at Chelsea can be regarded favourably, his 18-month spell included multiple trips to Wembley along with away days in the Champions League, despite the transfer ban hindrance.

Dream On

Appointed on strictly an interim basis, it marks an intelligent move. It revels in shades of the interim appointment of Roberto Di Matteo, who went on to win the club their first Champions League title in 2012, securing a permanent appointment. With Chelsea due to face Real Madrid in the next stage of their current Champions League journey, it offers a great incentive for Frank to replicate his former Italian coach.

Frank can be seen as an experienced set of hands, someone who is intrinsically tuned into the desires of the club hierarchy and also the fans. Being a club legend, he understands the standards expected and with the knowledge of his initial tenure in a managerial capacity under his belt, and the bruises of his time at Everton, the second time around should be smoother.

It serves as a fantastic PR move by the club hierarchy, offering a club legend the opportunity for redemption whilst also inspiring a level of support from the fans by playing on their nostalgic love for ‘Super Frank’. The club must get their next appointment correct; they cannot afford another misstep. A calculated approach is required, and the appointment of Frank Lampard signifies that such an approach is being taken. At the very least, he can steady the ship until someone capable arrives. Though, Chelsea fans may dare to dream that there remains something to aim for this season, the Champions League.

 Edited by Kavya Vengkateshwaran



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