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Chelsea Shockingly Bring Back Frank Lampard As Caretaker Manager After Sacking Graham Potter (After Sacking Thomas Tuchel)
Super Frank’s return to Stamford Bridge as caretaker manager has sparked both immense fanfare and a certain amount of head-scratching.
For most of us, choosing between the devil you know and the devil you don’t is about as beguiling a conundrum as it gets, but when it comes to Premier League stalwarts Chelsea and their managerial selections, well, they have a gift for making things vastly more complicated than even that straightforward choice.
As their coaching carousel continues to careen like a carnival clown car, Chelsea have appointed Frank Lampard as caretaker manager for the remainder of the season after sacking Graham Potter earlier in the week. Lampard will oversee the remaining nine Premier League matches, as well as Chelsea's continuing UEFA Champions League run, which will see them begin a quarterfinal against Real Madrid next week.
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Potter had been on the job less than seven months, joining the Blues from Brighton in September for a hefty fee, after the new ownership, fronted by American Todd Boehly, decided to part ways with Thomas Tuchel. Tuchel was shown the door less than 18 months after securing a Champions League title. He'd taken over the club in January 2021 after Chelsea fired ... Frank Lampard.
Confused? We get it.
Why did Chelsea fire Graham Potter?
Potter, who didn't have prior experience running a club with the resources and ambition of Chelsea, appeared overmatched during his short-lived tenure. Chelsea's new owners have pumped more than $600 million into the team, funding new player acquisitions, since taking over last May. While that amount of financial support sounds like a manager's dream, it presents its own unique challenges. While Chelsea boasted enviable squad depth, Potter was unable to mold them into a cohesive unit, nor was he able to forge a distinctive playing style. Far too often under his tutelage, Chelsea appeared aimless in attack and fragile in defense, and the fans had clearly turned on him. The final straw came after a 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge Saturday. Chelsea was booed off the pitch, with the supporters' anger focused squarely on Potter. He was let go the next day.
He leaves the club languishing in 11th place, 11 points from the threshold for European tournament football next season, which brings with it a significant increase in revenues.
Why did Chelsea hire Frank Lampard as interim manager?
But if there's anyone who can assuage fans' festering anger, it's Lampard. As a box-to-box weapon, Lampard became a transcendent player whose vast skillset was marked by creative goal scoring ability, crafty passing and a high-work rate. Widely regarded as one of the best Premier League midfielders of his generation, the legendary British footballer etched his name on the very bricks of Stamford Bridge, enjoying an illustrious career that included winning three Premier League titles and one in the UEFA Champions League for the club. Competitors respected his intensity, and fans adored him for his passion. The King has Buckingham Palace, but at Stamford Bridge, Lampard is truly royalty.
“We are delighted to welcome Frank back to Stamford Bridge,” controlling owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali said in a statement released on Chelsea's website. “Frank is a Premier League Hall of Famer and a legend at this club. As we continue our thorough and exhaustive process for a permanent head coach, we want to provide the club and our fans with a clear and stable plan for the remainder of the season. We want to give ourselves every chance of success and Frank has all of the characteristics and qualities we need to drive us to the finish line.”
“We have an important game against [the] Wolves on Saturday and then we will turn our attention to our Champions League quarter-final in Madrid next week. We are all going to give Frank our full backing as we aim to get the best possible outcome from all our remaining games.”
But for as great as he was as a player, Lampard's record as a manager is more checkered. The club’s record goal scorer managed the Blues from July 2019 to January 2021, and in his inaugural run, he helped guide Chelsea to the FA Cup final. That said, he managed to win barely more than half his matches while in charge – 44 victories in 84 games. After sitting on the coaching sidelines for a year, he joined Everton last January, helping them narrowly stave off relegation. But his time with the Toffees in his encore was less than convincing, winning only three of the club's 20 matches before being given the sack just eight days away from his one-year anniversary with the club.
What's next for Chelsea?
Chelsea have made clear that Lampard's charge is to guide the team through the end of this season, while the brass scour the world's elite coaching ranks for a permanent manager they hope will restore Chelsea to dominance, both domestically and abroad. They've already been linked to Julian Nagelsmann, who was recently let go from German giants Bayern Munich (and replaced by Thomas Tuchel ... go figure), former Spain and Barcelona boss Luis Enrique, and ex-Tottenham and PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino. It's entirely possible, if not likely, that Chelsea will come to an agreement with one of these candidates, or someone else entirely, while Lampard is still in place as the interim coach, poised to take charge once the season has officially concluded. All this raises an intriguingly bonkers possibility: what if Lampard pulls off the incredibly unlikely and wins the Champions League? Would Chelsea simply shake his hand in thanks, then usher in his successor?
That may be the only way the increase the chaos quotient for the West London club, elevating the season from catastrophic to comical. But at this point, who could rule that out?
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