A month immersed in chaos. Six consecutive defeats piled on top of four in a row at the end of his reign at Everton. Luxury players everywhere but no one to score him a goal and no cohesion in the back to keep them out.
Frank Lampard may be Chelsea royalty, but this peculiar second coming was neither happy nor glorious. And it can get worse.
A defeat on Saturday at Bournemouth would earn an unwanted honour, an 11th successive defeat to equal the record for a Premier League manager in a single season, set by Norwich’s Daniel Farke.
Chris Sutton told Mail Sport after Tuesday’s defeat at Arsenal that he feared Lampard suffered reputational damage by responding to the call to help at Stamford Bridge.
What at first glance seemed like a missed opportunity turns out to be an opportunity in every way. Still no regrets.
Frank Lampard has said he has no regrets about his decision to return to Chelsea
The legendary midfielder came to the club’s rescue last month but has lost all six games since his return so far
Lampard said he had not taken managerial jobs given the damage it could do to his future prospects
“If I went to work and thought about my reputation balance, the world is now so connected that people will talk about you in any way, in any form, so you can’t do that and try to take a leap into the future said Lampard on Friday.
“You have to take things on your gut. My instinct was to come here and help not just a team but a club at a difficult time, so you have to accept that it might not be that easy.’
Premier League defeats at the hands of Arsenal, Brentford, Brighton and Wolves came with two in the Champions League against Real Madrid.
After Bournemouth come home games with Nottingham Forest and Newcastle on either side of two away games against the two Manchester clubs in five days.
“I was very aware of our collision,” said Lampard. “I’m aware of what our run-in is in the last three games of the season, so when I came in here did I expect us to skyrocket in the league? No.
“Did I think I could hopefully make a change that could be a lasting change? Yes. At the moment the results do not say that. That’s fine, that’s football, you can’t control that, but I have no regrets. I am very happy to work here and will work to the last point to do everything I can to help.’
Instinct may not serve Lampard well. His competitive courage and thirst for a challenge are beyond question, although in hindsight there is something hasty and emotional about his choice of job.
After a promising debut season with Derby, losing to Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final, he couldn’t resist Chelsea, even as more experienced managers shunned the job as the club served a transfer ban and were on the verge of losing their best player. , Eden, to sell. Danger.
“I had confidence in myself,” said Lampard. “And in the first year we had a great success in reaching the Champions League with a young team and we lost Eden.”
Chelsea also made it to the FA Cup final in an unprecedented campaign interrupted by the Covid pandemic.
“I went to Derby on my first job and we had Financial Fair Play issues,” said Lampard. “We had to get rid of Matej Vydra, the top scorer. We have had a positive season.
Should his side lose on Saturday, he will share an unwanted Premier League record with Daniel Farke
“It was a great first year for me in terms of teeth grinding and we were almost where we wanted to be. I came out a much better coach. Coming to Chelsea then was a challenging moment, but I knew it. Everton was also a challenge.’
It’s easy to forget he made such a positive start to his managerial career, especially that first year at Chelsea in difficult circumstances, as he re-established his identity and rekindled the bond with the fans that had been lost during Maurizio Sarri’s tenure.
Communication is and always will be one of his strengths, and should count for something. He put his trust in young players and they responded. Likewise, things went wrong in the second season.
He lost the trust of key senior players and some critics believed he needed more in-game tactical acumen and managerial experience in his backroom staff, but he was hesitant to hire anyone outside of a close circle of former colleagues, including Ashley Cole, Joe Edwards and Chris Jones.
To make matters worse, Thomas Tuchel came in to replace him and won the Champions League.
“I probably took three jobs that were very challenging and where I think I was successful,” said Lampard. ‘And at two of those jobs I didn’t leave of my own accord. That’s probably the life of a manager.
“When I came here I took it with a lot of heart and understood that it was short-lived, but I don’t want to be an interim manager in my next job.
“I would like to work in something that feels like it has a chance to go the way I want it to go and I’m very aware of what that way is. It’s trying to find a project, a club that fits where you want to take the team and the style and the club.
“I’ve managed Chelsea twice, albeit on an interim basis. Everton is a huge club, Derby is a huge club. On that side I have no regrets. But maybe I’ll think differently if I go on.’
Lampard emphasizes that he doesn’t want to sound like he’s being ‘picky’. “That would discredit all other managers working under major challenges,” he said.
To be clear, he ventured into this area as part of an answer to a question about his next move, as it’s hard to imagine him being inundated with offers from the Premier League after last season.
Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker, England internationals of a golden generation of football talent, have all started this season in charge of top clubs and all three have had their reputations burned by the brutality of the occupation.
Gerrard suffered a steep uptick at Villa under Unai Emery. Parker as Bournemouth escaped relegation without him and a move to Club Brugge in Belgium proved short and unsuccessful. All three will be aware that there are times in football when you just have to weather the storm and Lampard at least sounds adamant that this won’t be his last stance in management.
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“These moments are there, we have them in all walks of life,” he said, warm to the idea that adversity makes you stronger.
“It’s a good time for the players to hear that. I’m 44 and some of them are 22, and they need to understand that they still have a lot ahead of them in their careers.
That also applies as a manager. Every manager will have their version of the story, from great success to times when things didn’t go so well. It is not possible to have a straight line going up in management.
“You have to have your own version of that. You have to be able to handle that too.’