Chelsea have moved on quite a long way since the departure of Frank Lampard as head coach back in January as the cycle of managers to come through the doors in SW6 continued apace.
Lampard was axed by club owner Roman Abramovich after his side slumped to ninth in the Premier League standings after limp defeats to Manchester City and Leicester City in a run of three wins in eight games.
Lampard battled through a transfer ban and took Chelsea to the Champions League in his sole full season in charge. Having been backed to the tune of nearly £250million the following summer, the club-record goalscorer was unable to get his new stars gelling and, as always happens, the man in charge pays the price.
The reaction to Lampard’s sacking was not universally welcomed, with a banner placed outside Stamford Bridge which said “Circus Continues” as the club legend was given his marching orders.
Chelsea swiftly replaced Lampard with Thomas Tuchel and the German took the Blues back into the top four and also to Champions League glory in Porto back in May. So you could say that the move worked out very well as Chelsea maintained their ethos of winning trophies whatever the cost.
Abramovich is not a big talker but he penned a statement after Lampard was sacked, something he very, very rarely does – if ever – and said: “This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him.
“He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers.
“On behalf of everyone at the club, the board and personally, I would like to thank Frank for his work as head coach and wish him every success in the future.
“He is an important icon of this great club and his status here remains undiminished. He will always be warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge.”
Lampard’s reign at Chelsea was often paralleled with that of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s at Manchester United – a club legend parachuted into a job at the stadium where they made a name for themselves with not a lot of experience behind them.
Solskjaer came in after the failed Jose Mourinho experiment at Old Trafford and is still there today, though he is consistently under-pressure and his job is seemingly on the line almost every week.
Having been backed with the signings of Jadon Sancho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane this summer, Solskjaer is even more under the gun to end United’s trophy-less drought which now stretches to four years.
Solskjaer has seen his assistant Mike Phelan handed a new contract in recent weeks which is a show of faith in Solskjaer. Ed Woodward’s tenure as executive vice chairman at Old Trafford comes to an end in January and a key ally over the Norwegian manager is moving on.
Having lost a number of finals in charge of United, Solskjaer is running out of time to convince that he is the right man for the job, even after three years in the post.
There is no doubting that Solskjaer has improved the atmosphere at Old Trafford following the combustible reign of Mourinho in Manchester and is the fourth manager to take charge at the club since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
Tuchel meanwhile is Chelsea’s 15th manager of the Roman Abramovich-era in west London. Anyone connected with the Blues will point to the success of hiring and firing at the club as it has delivered results.
Solskjaer was tasked with a project at Manchester United but, as yet, that project hasn’t really kicked on. He, like Lampard, was handed the keys to inject a shot of youth and have an overhaul.
Both were then backed in the transfer market but Lampard couldn’t make it happen and it cost him his job. Now Solskjaer has had the same and after the draw with Everton last time out where he dropped Ronaldo to the United bench, questions are being asked of him again.
It’s nothing new for Solskjaer but he only has to look at what happened to Lampard as to what could also happen to him if he fails to get the best out of the indisputably talented squad he has at his disposal in the north west.