Despite signing a three-year contract last summer, Maurizio Sarri is set to leave Chelsea after just one season to return to Italy and join Juventus with a deal said to be imminent.
A manager leaving ahead of schedule is usually par for the course as far as Chelsea is concerned with Sarri’s replacement, whoever that may be, set to become 12th manager of Roman Abramovich’s 16-year spell in charge.
During that time, Chelsea have predominantly appointed managers with a proven pedigree and while they have been linked with big names such as Massimiliano Allegri and even Jose Mourinho, the leading candidate appears to be club legend, Frank Lampard.
At just 40 years of age, Lampard would represent Abramovich’s second-youngest permanent boss behind Andre Villas-Boas who was only 33 when he arrived in June 2011. Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer also has just one season of management under his belt with Championship side Derby County.
Given his connections to the club, appointing Lampard would certainly be a romantic choice and with few standout candidates elsewhere, it could prove to be an inspired decision.
Here’s what Chelsea fans could expect if ‘Super Frank’ returned to the Bridge…
What’s been said?
Derby County chairman Mel Morris told the Telegraph last month: ‘Frank has brought the buzz back to the place. He has created a special environment. It wasn’t about him being a celebrity, it was about somebody giving us excitement. He has an aura, like all great managers.
‘One day he is going to be [back] at Chelsea, I am sure, because of the legend he was there. The longer he is here with success, the easier it is to go there without risk because Chelsea is a big club with massive expectations.
‘I would always be pleased we gave him the opportunity, proud of what he has achieved with us, and if that happened sooner rather than later I would just hope it works out for him. There would be absolutely no ill feeling and we’d understand it’s probably an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.’
Jurgen Klopp speaking about Derby loanee Harry Wilson: ‘He found a brilliant club and obviously a fantastic manager at Derby. They play really good football. The Manchester United game really was impressive – not only the result, the way they played was really impressive.’
How did his Derby team play?
For the vast majority of his time at Chelsea, Lampard played as part of a three-man midfield in a 4-3-3 system and it is perhaps no surprise, therefore, that he predominantly used that system during his first year in management. According to Whoscored, Derby employed a 4-3-3 formation on 28 occasions, using 4-2-3-1 as their Plan B.
Speaking to Goal in March, Lampard outlined his philosophy, saying: ‘In terms of style of play, I want to play good football. We want to try to play. We have been one of the teams in the Championship this season who try to play. We try to move the ball through the pitch, rather than being too direct, that’s not my style. It is not the way I want to play.
‘I want my team to play good football, but on the other side of that, I want them to be really aggressive and win the ball back. So I don’t like to try and put myself into one style of play. I think it is important to be adaptable in terms of systems.’
Lampard’s desire for his team to play good football was highlighted by Derby averaging 455 passes per match last season, the fifth-highest total in the Championship, while their 69 goals scored in the regular season was the seventh-most.
Much of Derby’s attacking play came through the middle of the pitch with Lampard encouraging his most technically gifted players – central midfielder Mason Mount and wingers Harry Wilson and Tom Lawrence – to move into pockets of space in central areas high up the pitch.
Consequently, Lampard instructed his full-backs – Jayden Bogle on the right and Scott Malone on the left – to provide most of the team’s width going forwards and it was a ploy that worked well with Bogle supplying a club-high nine assists from right-back.
During the play-off semi-final second leg against Leeds, meanwhile, Lampard demonstrated his tactical adaptability by ditching possession in favour of a counter-attacking style. While Leeds were partly architects of their downfall through making costly individual mistakes, Lampard’s ploy worked as Derby won 4-2 to reach the final.
What is his track record with young players?
Perhaps one of the biggest factors behind Chelsea’s interest in Lampard – romanticism aside – is that he did excellently with a young group of players at Derby last season, which included two of Chelsea’s brightest talents in Mount and centre-back Fikayo Tomori. Wilson, now rated at £25m by Liverpool and Bogle, also made big strides in their development.
That is a pertinent point with Chelsea facing up to the prospect of being unable to sign any players over the next 12-months due to a transfer ban imposed on them by FIFA which will force the club to promote young players from within.
Thankfully for Chelsea, they have a highly-promising clutch of players in their academy waiting in the wings. Callum Hudson-Odoi appears set for a prominent role next season following Eden Hazard’s departure, as does Ruben Loftus-Cheek who emerged as a key player prior to suffering a serious Achilles injury last month.
Others such as Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James have been earmarked for a place in Chelsea’s first-team squad next season and Lampard has proven during his short managerial career to date that he can develop young players at his disposal.
What would his backroom team look like?
Sarri brought a considerable backroom team with him when he made the switch from Napoli to Chelsea last summer, with 11 assistants joining him at Stamford Bridge. Interestingly, as reported by the Times, while Sarri was handed a three-year deal, his assistants were only given one-year contracts.
Chelsea have made a point of handing former players prominent positions post-retirement and two of Sarri’s staff members were excellent players for the club during their careers – Carlo Cudicini was a goalkeeping coach and Gianfranco Zola appointed as Sarri’s assistant.
It would be interesting to see whether Cudicini and Zola – both of whom played alongside Lampard at Stamford Bridge – would be retained under the new regime. Zola’s role would be particularly interesting considering Lampard took Chelsea’s former youth team boss Jody Morris with him to Derby to be his No.2.
Morris, who was lauded for his work in Chelsea’s academy, initially with the U21s and then in the U18s where he worked alongside Hudson-Odoi amongst others, is very much Lampard’s right-hand man and it would be a big surprise if he didn’t follow him back to west London.
Another former teammate that Lampard could work alongside is Petr Cech who is expected to make the short trip across London after leaving Arsenal. Cech has been earmarked for a sporting director role at Chelsea where he would act as a link between the boardroom and the management team.
Would it work out?
Although Sarri enjoyed a successful season in charge courtesy of guiding Chelsea to a third-place finish in the Premier League and a Europa League title, he endured a rather loveless marriage with the club’s supporters, many of whom didn’t buy into his philosophy.
Despite an improvement in results in the final few weeks of the campaign, Sarri never seemed to recover after presiding over heavy defeats to Bournemouth and Manchester City in January and February as well as a meek FA Cup surrender to Manchester United at home.
Whereas Sarri was an unpopular figure, Lampard is the polar opposite with his achievements during a 13-year spell at Chelsea ensuring hero status at the club. Consequently, he would be given far more slack than any other manager would receive.
While there are question marks over Lampard’s readiness for such a role, there is no doubt that it would be an extremely popular appointment.
His lack of experience is a concern, though. Lampard enjoyed a highly promising debut season in management with Derby only just missing out on promotion to the Premier League by losing the play-off final to Aston Villa, but Chelsea is an altogether different challenge.
As much as the club’s supporters and perhaps most of the players would be inclined to give him time to make his mark, a few poor results would pile pressure on Lampard given he hasn’t yet had to overcome a tricky spell during his time in the dugout.
Source: Read Full Article