It seems we are potentially only hours away from Chelsea’s greatest ever player returning home to manage the club he became a footballing icon with.
That prospect has excited a large majority of the fanbase, and even those like myself who have their doubts, can’t help but resist the goosebumps that naturally come with envisioning the first game at home to Leicester in August. Frank Lampard emerging from the tunnel to a rapturous cheer rivalling the noise made when Jose returned in 2013.
I even wrote an article a week before the Europa League final condemning the idea of letting Maurizio Sarri walk out the door and appointing Lampard as “Horrendous”. Though football is a fast moving, unpredictable tidal wave which can turn drastically within the space of a week, especially at Chelsea.
It’s appropriate to make crystal clear that I have idolised Frank Lampard since the age of 5. Having his name and number on the back of most of the Chelsea shirts I wore growing up, reliving his great moments over and over. Pretending to be him whilst playing football as a 7 year old in my garden. That should lay to rest and derail any counter argument that I “don’t get Chelsea” or I don’t really love the club for expressing any doubts or concerns.
But in our crazy, divisive current times of course that claim is still made and not just against fellow fans, but Chelsea Legends. Dennis Wise when interviewed for Sky Sports on Lampard’s possible return spoke of his genuine worry that it may be “too soon” for the Chelsea icon to come back as a manager.
Watch Wise’s full remarks below..
What followed this was people quickly turning on Wise, claiming his views on the club shouldn’t be acknowledged, despite being an adored legend whose name is sung loudly and regularly from the Harding Lower in admiration of his great goal at the San Siro.
This simply is ludicrous and extremely disrespectful to a servant of the club who bled for the shirt.
Not only that, but Wise ended his answer by giving his full support to both Frank and Jody Morris. The fears Wise expressed are ones that have been widely spoken about between Chelsea fans.
Firstly, only having one year in management at Championship level and is still learning his craft, making mistakes and evolving. Secondly, the turbulent and unpredictable nature of Chelsea which has the shortest expiry dates on manager’s, breeding a culture where a manager succeeds his objectives, wins a piece of European silverware and is still widely condemned and by fans and the media.
Chelsea is a club built on instant results and the relentless pursuit of attaining silverware. The manager is almost an irrelevancy when the position is up for grabs as frequently as the next London Tube.
With a transfer ban and the major departure of Eden Hazard, the West London club are facing a challenging season. The pressure and expectation placed onto Chelsea from inside and out won’t lessen even with a beloved player in the dugout.
It would be refreshing to see Lampard given time to mould his vision, make mistakes and have the patience and support of the fans. However, with the quick turn against Sarri, I’ll hold my breath to see the response. Yes Lampard is a God to those that love Chelsea, however if Lampard were to suffer similar defeats and a poor winter like his predecessor did, would the mood be all rosey in SW6?
In truth, the fear is most likely a 60/40 split between Lampard’s ability at this early stage of his managerial career and on the other side the intense and unrelenting pressure of being manager of Chelsea, which has got the best of some of the most highly experienced and respected coaches in the modern game. A percentage that you could turn either way, depending on your own personal preference.
This is by no means a call to be completely pessimistic about the upcoming appointment. It will hopefully unite the support behind Frank which is desperately needed after the divide surrounding Sarri. A man who knows the culture and what it means to play for Chelsea, aided by a backroom staff of former beloved players is a poetic level of symmetry, giving the feel of the “band getting back together”.
Most fans, even those that supported Sarri very strongly, have already backed the legendary midfielder and that should be the feeling around the club when the appointment is made official. However, those who express honest and genuine concern should not be hounded or abused because of it and have their credentials as a supporter put into question.
That is CULT like behaviour.