Lampard the next Chelsea manager? Winners & losers if Super Frank actually returns
If reports from Italy are to be believed, Chelsea could be switching managers once again this summer.
What makes things slightly different this time around, however, is that a club legend could be the new man in the dugout.
Sport Mediaset claim Chelsea want Frank Lampard to return to Stamford Bridge as manager, with Maurizio Sarri being considered to take over at Juventus.
A reunion with Lampard would stir up all sorts of emotions, but it could also change the face of Chelsea in a number of ways.
So we’ve looked at the people set to benefit from Lampard’s potential appointment, as well as those who could suffer as a result of his arrival.
Winner: The kids
One of the main criticisms aimed at Sarri has surrounded his reluctance to put faith in younger players. Towards the end of the season, he had started to use Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi regularly, but it took some time for Sarri to realise their obvious usefulness to the team; while Ethan Ampadu appeared forgotten altogether.
Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi will both unfortunately miss the Europa League final with Achilles injuries, meaning Sarri must revert to using the old guard. Conversely, there is a feeling Lampard will not follow in Sarri’s footsteps, because he will use the young players at his disposal from the beginning.
His hand could, of course, be forced. The transfer ban hanging over the club – which could yet be lifted though is just as likely to remain in place – means whoever is in charge of Chelsea next year may keep an eye on the youth teams more than previous managers. Lampard, though, is predisposed to do so.
Last summer, the Derby boss made use of his relationship with his former club by taking Chelsea youngsters Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori to Pride Park on loan. Both have been impressive with Tomori winning the club’s Player of the Year award, while Lampard is almost certain to include Mount in the Chelsea first-team squad if he gets the job.
The likes of Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi, Reece James and possibly others from Chelsea’s successful youth sides are likely to get a look-in too. Ultimately, the transfer ban coupled with Lampard’s arrival could enforce a welcome change of philosophy at the club.
Depending on who you ask, Jorginho has either been a good signing or a flop. Sarri insisted on bringing the Italian international with him from Napoli, and his constant inclusion in the team has been a stick with which to beat the Chelsea boss.
Sitting in front of the back four, Jorginho completed more passes (2,782) than any other Premier League player in 2018/19. While that’s obviously impressive, some also see it as indicative of Sarri’s unpopular style of play; too many passes, not enough penetration.
Sarri rotated his midfield in order to find the answer to Chelsea’s problems throughout the campaign, but one thing always remained the same: Jorginho. The 27-year-old’s undroppable status also saw N’Golo Kante movd to the right of a midfield three in a slightly more advanced role, a shift that has received both plaudits and criticism.
If Lampard replaces Sarri, he is likely to tweak Chelsea’s midfield shape and that could see Kante return to the deepest midfield slot. But what does that mean for Jorginho? Either he will have to settle for and adapt to a new role, or he may be on his way out.
Of course, Sarri is likely to at least attempt to bring Jorginho with him to Juventus in the reported scenario we are focusing on. In a sense, Jorginho won’t be a loser if that’s the case, but staying at Chelsea could spell danger for his chances of regular football in his preferred position.
Winner: Chelsea fans
Finishing third in the Premier League and reaching the Europa League final would be deemed a successful season in most cases, especially for a team which finished fifth in the previous season.
But putting things in context, some Chelsea supporters have been disappointed with what they’ve seen from the team under Sarri so far.
It could be argued that the Blues only qualified for the Champions League as a result of the failings of Arsenal and Manchester United. Chelsea found themselves in and out of the top four throughout the season, and at the worst times there were calls for Sarri to be sacked.
The 6-0 defeat to Manchester City was certainly a low point, and the Kepa Arrizabalaga incident during the Carabao Cup final didn’t help the fragile morale between supporters, players and the manager. Sarri has redeemed himself somewhat with Champions League qualification, but there is still a strange atmosphere around the club.
With that in mind, bringing in Lampard – a certified club icon – would bring joy to the stands. The fans would have an immediate rapport with the man in the dugout, unlike the strained relationship they currently have with Sarri.
Lampard’s credentials to manage a top six club are up for debate, but there is no doubt the supporters would be willing him to succeed, resulting in an improved mood at Stamford Bridge.
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Loser: The Chelsea board
It’s unclear just how much of an effect the transfer ban will have on Chelsea. The current squad is talented but does need a bit of a refresh, which will be impossible if the ban stands. All of which is to say Lampard could struggle to make an immediate impact if appointed.
If that’s the case, the fans are unlikely to turn on Lampard first. The board will take most of the flack with the supporters unlikely to go sour on a club legend, regardless of the on-pitch performances that led to the hypothetical bad results.
Unless Lampard brings Champions League football and silverware, which will be difficult with no new arrivals (especially if Eden Hazard leaves), he could be out of a job and his sacking will not go down well with the Chelsea fans, who will point to the fact he may have succeeded in ordinary circumstances.
Winner: Frank Lampard
Things could go horribly wrong for Lampard. It’s impossible to discount the idea that he may be making too big a jump too soon. After just one season of managing in the Championship, is he ready to take on a top six job so early in his coaching career?
Whether the answer is yes or no, Lampard is arguably entering a win-win situation. If he succeeds, he will be living the dream of winning trophies with the club he fell in love with upon joining. If he fails and is sacked, he will probably be deemed worthy of a lower Premier League job, the sort of position he finds himself in right now.
What’s more, even a bad experience with Chelsea will see Lampard learn important lessons, something he can use to grow from wherever he ends up next. Unless he is an utter disaster at Chelsea, the 40-year-old won’t take too much of a hit to his reputation.
Loser: Derby County
When we talk about managers taking over at the country’s biggest clubs, we often forget what they are leaving behind. Derby have a wonderful history of their own, and they are one victory away from securing a return to the Premier League having beaten Leeds United in the Championship play-off semi-finals.
What does Lampard do if he fulfils Derby’s aim of promotion? Does he stay and continue a sensible career trajectory with the Rams? Or does he jump ship for a shot at the ultimate glory? It’s a tough decision, but the latter will leave Derby in a hole.
Going into the Premier League in search of a new manager will throw a spanner in the works of any plan Derby had to get their transfer business done early. The opposite scenario – failing to beat Aston Villa in the play-off final – will also be troublesome; Derby will be forced to hit reset yet again in their quest to reach the promised land.