Chelsea are expected to choose Frank Lampard as their next manager following the departure of Maurizio Sarri.
But is the club’s all-time record goalscorer the right man to replace the Italian? Two of our writers wade into the debate.
YES: Frank Dalleres
Talk of Chelsea calling on Frank Lampard to return as manager just one year into his dugout career might seem premature in normal circumstances.
But these are anything but and the very real prospect of a transfer ban preventing the Blues from making any signings until next summer changes everything.
The likelihood is that some managers who might ordinarily be in Chelsea’s crosshairs will not want to join a club where they cannot make any signings – especially one whose squad is a very mixed bag and has just been shorn of its outstanding player in Eden Hazard. Chelsea’s options are, therefore, restricted.
In that context it makes sense – and is at the very least a terrific short-term PR move – for them to consider more leftfield options such as Lampard and task him with incorporating some of the talent from the enviable production line at Cobham, thereby also answering long-standing calls from supporters to promote youth to the first team.
We don’t know much about Lampard the manager but what we have learned from his one season in management is that he has the appetite and ability to work with young players.
At Derby he leaned heavily on loanees Harry Wilson, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori – the latter two borrowed from Chelsea.
Read more: How Lampard turned Derby into giant-killers
A huge argument in favour of choosing Lampard is his No2 Jody Morris, the former Blues midfielder and youth team coach who knows the club’s production line of talent better than anyone.
Morris would need to accompany his old team-mate back to south-west London if this is to have the most realistic chance of working out.
There are side-benefits to appointing Lampard.
His legend status with supporters should buy the new project the longer period of grace that it may need, as well as reviving terrace goodwill sapped by the Maurizio Sarri era. Lampard is also likely to be cheaper than some more experienced alternatives and therefore easier to cast aside if it all goes sour.
It’s true that appointing a former player can be an emotional decision that ends up looking foolish, but for the reasons listed above there is sound logic to trying Lampard.
He is worth a punt and if it doesn’t work out then Chelsea can return to old ways and hire a big hitter next summer.
A bit of a long shot it may be, but Lampard has a habit of making those work.
NO: Felix Keith
Frank Lampard might be a good manager. He might have the requisite people skills, tactical acumen, coaching ability, motivational qualities and countless other attributes needed to lead a top-six Premier League side. But we simply can’t make that judgement yet.
We know exactly what Lampard the player was because he made around 1,000 appearances for club and country over a distinguished 21-year career.
But Lampard the manager has barely had the time to show us his characteristics, taking charge of just 57 competitive games for Derby County.
He oversaw some morale-boosting, headline-writing cup wins over Manchester United and Southampton on penalties, but ultimately failed in delivering the Rams’ main goal.
The 40-year-old accrued one point fewer than his predecessor, Gary Rowett, and lost the play-off final to rivals Aston Villa to miss out on promotion from the Championship.
That is the extent of his CV as a manager. It’s not a bad one, but neither is it worthy of a prize job at the eighth richest club in the world.
No matter which way you look at it – whether through a neutral, dispassionate lens, or blue-tinted spectacles – Chelsea are taking a gamble.
So why would the club’s brains trust – owner Roman Abramovich, chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia – be happy to push its chips across the table and go all in on an under-qualified manager?
The answer may lie partly in their current position – looming transfer ban, departure of Eden Hazard and Maurizio Sarri hangover – and partly in what Lampard means to Chelsea: inspirational midfielder, record goalscorer and a driving force behind their halcyon days.
There is understandably a nostalgic, emotional hankering for the prodigal son to return to Stamford Bridge and take up a role destined for him.
The sole season under Sarri may have ended with a third-place finish and a Europa League trophy, but it was a frustrating period for fans, with a hardline tactical doctrine and frequently baffling selections undermining the Italian’s results.
Appointing the man they call Super Frank, who is inextricably associated with success, represents an easy PR win for those in charge, not a rational decision.
Football history suggests those short-term gains often turn sour fairly quickly. Former players don’t tend to make the best managers – at least not straight away. Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid are a huge exception to the rule, not a case study in favour of the practise.
Chelsea would be appointing Lampard for romantic reasons, not objective ones.