How will Chelsea play under Frank Lampard? Looking back at his first spell in charge
He returns to a club at a crossroads, with a disjointed squad and misfiring attack. So what will Super Frank do now he’s back in the hot seat?
Chelsea have announced the appointment of Frank Lampard as caretaker manager until the end of the season, bringing the club legend back for his third stint at the club.
After a trophy-laden 13 years at Stamford Bridge as a player Lampard returned in 2019 as the new head coach, fresh from an impressive season with Championship side Derby County.
We take a look at how that first spell in charge went for Lampard and what to expect now that he’s back in the hot seat.
Lampard’s first spell as Chelsea boss
At the end of the 2018/19 season Chelsea parted company with unpopular head coach Maurizio Sarri and announced that Lampard would be the man to replace him.
Confirming his appointment, the club statement read: “We believe this is the perfect time for him to return and are delighted he has done so. We will do everything we can to ensure he has all the support required to be a huge success.”
However Lampard was returning to a club in a state of flux. Not only was there a new manager but Chelsea had lost the talismanic talents of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid and had been hit with a transfer ban, preventing any new players from coming in. As such, Lampard was tasked with renovating the squad using players from the club’s famed academy.
The season started poorly with a 4-0 opening day defeat against Manchester United but Lampard quickly turned things around, picking up the Premier League Manager of the Month award for October. The club finished the season in fourth place, securing Champions League qualification, and reaching the final of the FA Cup.
Lampard’s second season, however, was a different story and Chelsea struggled from the very start. With the transfer ban lifted the club had spent big on Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, and Thiago Silva but performances on the pitch waned.
By the end of January a run of two wins in eight saw Chelsea slip to ninth position in the league and Lampard was dismissed. With thanks to our friends at Sofascore, here’s an overview of Lampard’s first spell as Chelsea boss...
At the time of his sacking Lampard had the second worst points per game (PPG) average of any Chelsea manager since Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2003, behind only Andre Villas-Boas (1.70 PPG). This record low was beaten, very recently, by Graham Potter (1.27 PPG).
What to expect from Lampard’s return
During his time at Chelsea and throughout his managerial career Lampard’s sides have largely played with a back four, with the 4-3-3 his most commonly-used formation. Tuchel preferred a back three and Potter dabbled with different formations, but Lampard will almost certainly favour the back four for his return to Stamford Bridge.
Also likely to be back in favour is Mason Mount, who has been on the sidelines in recent weeks. Mount played 80 games during Lampard’s first 18-month spell, 14 more than any other player.
Mount was part of the focus on youth employed by Lampard, which was in part necessitated by the club’s transfer ban. Reece James and Tammy Abraham both enjoyed breakthrough seasons under Lampard and the likes of Connor Gallagher and Trevoh Chalobah will be hoping to get more opportunities under Lampard.
Lampard tends to play with a fixed central forward and Abraham hit the ground running under the new boss. He scored 10 goals in his first 12 Premier League appearances but tailed off slightly, losing his starting berth in the second half of the season. With no real option as a traditional No. 9, Lampard may have to adjust his system to suit this Chelsea squad.
But however he decides to arrange his forward players, boosting the goal-scoring will be central to Lampard’s thoughts on his return. On paper, Chelsea have one of the most formidable attacking line-ups in the league but they have managed just 29 goals in 29 Premier League games this season, 11 fewer than 19th-placed Leicester City.
In Lampard’s first season in charge Chelsea scored 67 goals in 38 games, and were behind only Liverpool and Manchester City in the goalscoring charts. Lampard will hope that his famed goalscoring instinct will rub off on his new charges for the remaining games.