Frank Lampard is set for an emotional return to Chelsea, this time as manager, to replace Maurizio Sarri who has joined Juventus. Although the lure of the job is obvious for Lampard, it is not going to be easy for him, especially having only managed Derby County for one season previously.
As a fans favourite, is he right to being go back to Stamford Bridge so early in his managerial career, or might it all end in tears with the supporters turning on him if results don’t go well?
One thing Lampard must do is change the style of play witnessed under Sarri. It was often too loud to ignore when chants of ‘f*** Sarri-ball’ could be heard echoing around Stamford Bridge. Although this style won him plaudits at Napoli, it was not replicated in England where fans expect to watch a more entertaining brand of attacking football.
Lampard will surely adopt the same approach he instilled at Derby, which was one of energy, dynamism and pressing – something the Blues fans will relish.
One of the big problems was the lack of connection between Maurizio Sarri and the Chelsea fans, as Sarri was not too concerned about their opinions and not afraid to show it either, lacking the diplomacy required on certain occasions.
Lampard should have no such worries as a club legend and the feel-good factor will surround and galvanise the place. His status could also buy him some time if things start slowly. Supporters have more patience with ‘one of their own’.
His backroom team will feature some familiar faces from Chelsea days gone by. Jody Morris, a former Chelsea midfielder who came through the club’s academy before going on to coach in the academy, will almost certainly come with him from Derby and remain as his right-hand man.
Former favourite, Claude Makalele, has also been lined up for a role at the club alongside several other ex-Chelsea players who will handle the huge number of youth players on the wage bill, with former goalkeeper, Petr Cech, set to oversee everything as sporting director.
Chelsea will have a two-window transfer ban imposed on them, which means they will be forced to look at the best players in their successful academy to boost their squad. With so many of them at a stage in their career where it is time to make that jump into the first team, Lampard will win plaudits for blooding the youth players, whether forced to or not.
He’s worked with two of them, Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount, at Derby last season and helped them take big strides forward. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who made big breakthroughs last season, will also benefit as will the likes of Tammy Abraham, Reece James and Jake Clarke-Salter.
However, losing the club’s best player, Eden Hazard, will be a significant blow to the start of his Chelsea reign. Hazard’s exit might open the door though for Hudson-Odoi to claim his favoured left-wing spot.
Legend or not, there will still be demands on Lampard and achieving a top four finish will remain the minimum requirement. Only time will tell on whether he can retain such a status at the club.