The mostly negative response to Chelsea’s decision to reappoint former player and manager, Frank Lampard, doesn’t take into account what the Chelsea legend and fledgling manager may have learned, and what is on the line for him over the next 10 games.
Let’s not beat around the bush here. Frank Lampard has not set the world alight as a Premier League football manager. His average points per game (PPG) at Chelsea (1.75) places him above only Graham Potter (1.27). At Everton his PPG of just 1.0 makes him their second worst manager of all time. Only Mike Walker faired worse than Lampard with a PPG of 0.83.
With such a poor record in the top flight, it’s understandable that most will consider this a poor appointment. But, ‘Frankly’, I don’t see it that way.
Now that Lampard has got his first training session, since his return, out of the way – let’s look at some of the positives.
- Lampard has 10 games to save his managerial career. If Lampard can get Chelsea past Real Madrid in the Champions League and higher up in the league table than West London rivals, Fulham and Brentford, then this would be considered a good appointment and Lampard’s reputation would be enhanced. On the other hand, should Chelsea go out of the Champions League to Madrid and finish lower than 10th in the Premier League, then Lampard’s standing as a poor manager would be confirmed. This is a big incentive.
- The struggles against relegation with Everton, whilst taking its toll at the time, may have strengthened Lampard’s resolve as a manager. Lampard comes across as a reflective character and he will have learned a great deal from that difficult experience. Based on player wages, a decent marker for league position, Everton should be in mid-table (12th) and Chelsea should be in the top four (2nd). It could be argued that Lampard did a better job at Everton than Potter did at Chelsea.
- Lampard has worked with most of the players before and even tried to buy two of the current squad while he was manager at Everton. He tried to bring Mykhaylo Mudryk to Everton during his time in charge at Goodison Park, and now has an opportunity to work with the Ukrainian. Mudryk has struggled since his January move from Shakhtar Donetsk, and faces plenty of competition for a starting spot. Perhaps Lampard will be able to get more out of Mudryk than his predecessor.
- N’Golo Kante is back in the squad after missing most of the season with hamstring problems. Kante has played just 33 minutes under Potter. After captaining the side against Liverpool on Tuesday, Chelsea’s influential workhorse came through 69 minutes unscathed. The return of Kante might be just the boost that Chelsea need as they look to climb the table.
- Nobody is expecting much of Lampard and the team are doing poorly in the league; the pressure is off. Perversely, this might actually help. Chelsea have quality in all areas and may be able to play with more freedom under Lampard. The likes of Pulisic and Sterling might benefit from the pressure valve being released a little and Lampard can walk away after 10 games no matter what.
No matter what happens over the next 10 games, we will learn a lot about Lampard the manager. The Chelsea board will have more time to appraise and seduce their next manager, while Lampard gets to put his hat in the ring if all goes well. It’s a win-win.