It seems like just yesterday that Frank Lampard stepped into the managerial void at Stamford Bridge, held up a blue shirt, and took some lovely pictures as he walked around the Stamford Bridge pitch on a bright sunshiny summer’s day.
There were some concerns about his readiness and suitability, just as there were concerns about the club’s state given out transfer ban and squad composition, but if there was one thing we had learned about Lampard in his 13 years as a Chelsea player, it was to never bet against him.
And sure enough, Super Frank led the club quite safely to a top-four finish and even a cup final to boot, while creating a cultural shift within the club as well — and that in just his second ever season as a football manager.
Alas, in the end, he was not quite able to fully change our ways. Winning and trophies (and player power?) still rule the day. Lampard acknowledged that all along as well of course — he should know! — but there was hope (and some reports, even) that Chelsea had truly changed out ways, and were willing to think long-term gains over short-term pain.
The current short-term pains were deemed too high of a price to pay to find out whether Lampard could actually deliver long-term. That’s the nature of the job, as a sympathetic Pep Guardiola reflected yesterday.
“Young and old managers — here you have to win. The people talk about projects and ideas but it doesn’t exist. You have to win, if not, you will be sacked. [...] we depend on the results, not the way we play, not about philosophy or these kind of things or the projects. You have to get results. If you don’t, you will be replaced by another manager.”
-Pep Guardiola; source: Goal
And so, Lampard’s gone, his two-year contract (with an extra year option) terminated at the three-quarters mark, after 84 games and 18 months. That sounds like nothing, but it’s actually the fifth longest managerial appointment in the Abramovich Era. There are only three names ahead of Lampard on that list in fact, with José Mourinho occupying both top spots (185 and 136 games in his 3+ and 2.5-year appointments, respectively), followed by Carlo Ancelotti (109 games) and Antonio Conte (106), both of whom got two full seasons.
“It is the brutality of football, especially modern football. When you become a manager you know that sooner or later it is going to happen to you.”
-José Mourinho; source: TeamTalk
And that’s it. That’s the list of managers who curried Abramovich’s favor longer than Frank Lampard.
Managerial tenure under Roman Abramovich pic.twitter.com/wlbNJCC2Eb— Sid Celery (@sidcelery) January 26, 2021
The names below Lampard are just as familiar. Maurizio Sarri, Claudio Ranieri*, André Villa-Boas, Big Phil Scolari, Robbie Di Matteo all saw full-time remits. Avram Grant, Rafa Benítez, and Mother Guus Hiddink, twice, were strictly interim appointments, as were the single matches wherein assistants Ray Wilkins or Steve Holland filled empty chairs.
*Claudio Ranieri had been in charge when Abramovich bought the club, and was granted that first season to see what he could do.
Will the next man last longer than Lampard? Given the reported 18-month contract (with an extra year option) given to Thomas Tuchel only, I wouldn’t bet on it.