Chelsea Football Club have confirmed that their new manager for next season will be club legend Frank Lampard with the 41-year-old joining after one season at Derby County in the Championship.
Lampard has signed a three-year contract with the Blues after having played at Stamford Bridge for 13 years, winning everything that could possibly have been won during that time.
On his return to his beloved Blues, Lampard told the club’s official website “I am immensely proud to be returning to Chelsea as head coach”.
The former England international was quick to dispel any sentiment in the signing however, and expressed that he takes the managerial hot seat with a job to fulfill.
“Everyone knows my love for this club and the history we have shared, however, my sole focus is on the job in hand and preparing for the season ahead,” he said.
“I am here to work hard, bring further success to the club and I cannot wait to get started.”
In his first year in management, Lampard guided Derby to the Championship play-off final after coming from a losing position to beat Leeds United over two legs in the semi-finals, only to lose out in the final against Aston Villa at Wembley.
The Rams caught the eye with their vibrant attacking style as young loanees Mason Mount and Harry Wilson terrorised Championship defences, with the latter scoring an especially superb free-kick on the club’s way to knocking Manchester United out of the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford.
Derby rather tailed off after the turn of the year as they tend to do year on year after challenging at the top of the table, and were on the brink of not making the playoffs at all but held firm to have their name in the mix to be promoted.
Despite being on the cusp of a return to the Premier League, nearly is beginning to not quite be enough for Derby and their season as a whole was something of a failure.
The Rams have been a favourite to be promoted since a heartbreaking playoff final loss to Queens Park Rangers in 2014 but have stumbled ever since with the likes of Paul Clement and Steve McLaren failing to bring the club back to the promise land.
This fact, and that of the important matter that Lampard has only coached in this one season in his career, makes it appear a rather strange decision for Chelsea to hire a manager of such inexperience.
Granted the market for managers is considerably thin at the moment and as Lampard said himself, everybody knows the affinity he has with the football club, but this appointment is a rank outsider among those made by Roman Abramovich since he bought the club in 2003.
The Russian has demanded nothing but the best from his managers bringing in the likes of world-class tacticians in Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho on two occasions, and has been known to wield his axe at the slightest inkling of under performance.
Ancelotti was sacked as manager for finishing second in the Premier League in 2011, while former player Roberto Di Matteo, who won the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League within a two-week span as interim boss in May 2012, was sacked just six months after that having been given permanent charge.
Chelsea has become a powerhouse in world football during the Abramovich era, winning more trophies than any other English club but going through more managers during that time, too.
With this in mind, the only real explanations for the hiring of someone as inexperienced as Lampard can only be that the board has panicked and been influenced by emotion, or that they see him as the man to rebuild the club, withstand a season or two of mediocrity and bring them back up going into the future.
The Blues are too successful a football club to let their managerial decisions be swayed by emotions alone, so perhaps they view Lampard as someone who will be on the touchline for years to come and who can pull the club through the difficulties that will follow.
The transfer ban will hurt Chelsea massively and as such Lampard will immediately be thrown into the deep end, but this also presents him with a fantastic opportunity to make his mark on the club as a whole, from the youth ranks right up to the first team.
The club has an embarrassment of talent returning from loan spells; Mount and Fikayo Tomori whom Lampard worked with at Derby, Tammy Abraham and Reece James to name a few.
Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek – albeit both injured for a substantial period – have bags of potential and could be the ones to carry the club forward, and Lampard could be the man to nurture them and give them their chance. Quite frankly, he has no choice but to try.
He knows the way the club works and he knows exactly how to succeed as a player, but not just yet as a manager. Inexperienced people will make mistakes and learn from them as they improve along the way, and despite Abramovich’s growing list of ruthlessly sacked managers, perhaps he will be more forgiving. Even Arsenal took years to sack Arsene Wenger after an array of stagnant seasons.
Time will ultimately tell the story for Chelsea as to whether this will work out or not, but the club must be ready to be a chaser rather than the chased for at least another season or two. However, provided Lampard is given the time, perhaps there will be some glistening new additions to the trophy cabinet in years later down the line.