Well, going to all that effort of building a manager’s smoking area at Stamford Bridge was a bit pointless, wasn’t it?
After just a year at the helm, Chelsea have said Sarri-vederci to their chain-smoking manager Maurizio after he opted to move back to Italy to take charge of Juventus. It leaves Roman Abramovich having to make a remarkable 13th managerial appointment of his rouble-infused ownership of the club.
The man hoping that number isn’t unlucky for some is one Frank Lampard. The club legend is widely expected to be appointed as Chelsea manager in the coming days.
The Englishman showcased managerial guile in his first season in the dugout, guiding Derby to the Championship play-off final – but taking charge of the Europa League winners represents a huge step up. And as we’ve seen countless times before, legendary players taking charge of the club they’re revered at doesn’t always go to plan.
So, how will Chelsea’s 2019/20 campaign play out with Lampard in charge? According to our crystal ball, badly…
Making his mark
With thousands of chewed-up cigarette butts eventually swept away, Lampard finally gets his feet under the desk at the club’s Cobham training ground – and immediately gets to work planning how to spend Eden Hazard’s £100m transfer fee.
Given the debilitating transfer embargo on the club, Lampard decides to invest heavily in expanding his coaching staff. He opts to get the old band back together – John Terry and Didier Drogba are brought in as assistants (to the) manager – as the new gaffer tries to recreate the good old days to get fans even more on side.
All remaining funds go towards extra training ground dummies, as Lampard seeks to drill his trademark deflected finishes into his new charges.
A positive start soon unravels
Boosted by his pick of the club’s 300+ returning loanees and the removal of Danny Drinkwater from storage, Lamps’ team makes a promising start to the season. With Ole still carelessly at the Old Trafford wheel, Chelsea emerge victorious on the opening weekend of the season.
They even scoop Super Cup glory against Liverpool in his second game, leading to the thousands of dreadfully boring tweets about how he has the best games-to-trophy ratio of any manager in history.
All seems to be going along smoothly, but let’s not forget Sarri went unbeaten in his first 12 league matches. Inevitably, Lampard soon suffers his first setback when Liverpool come to town and gain revenge, with Mo Salah making a mockery of Chelsea’s longest-serving player, Tomas Kalas. Yep, he’s still under contract there.
The feel-good factor around the club takes another hit when their former captain, leader, lothario John Terry is photographed out and about with various players’ wives. The uproar splits the dressing room and JT decides to leave “in the best interests of the club I love”.
The winter of discontent
The Blues just about muddle through their Champions League group amid some patchy league form, Lampard comes under even more scrutiny for actions off the pitch.
With Chelsea’s TV channel going off-air, Lampard insists all club news is announced via his wife, Christine, on Loose Women. Supporters quickly get fed up of having to endure listening about Katie Price’s latest break-up just to hear if Ross Barkley is injured (again), and they start to turn on the manager.
It’s then a cockney knight in shining armour attempts to come to the rescue. Rolling back the years to 1996, uncle Harry Redknapp does the media rounds leaping to Lampard’s defence. “Frank is going right to the top of management,” he states. “Right to the very top!”
This bigging up backfires, however, as rival fans deduce Lampard clearly needs someone else to talk for him. As the “Stop Crying Frank Lampard” song grips the terraces, the Oasis song it’s based on hits the Christmas No1 spot.
From legend to loser
Lampard’s hopes for a fresh start in 2020 are extinguished almost immediately, as Chelsea are embarrassingly dumped out of the FA Cup in a shock reversal to Oxford United. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Lampard begins sending a spy to opponents’ training grounds.
However, the ruse is up when someone who looks suspiciously like John Terry in a comedy wig and glasses is clocked peeking over the fences at Man Utd’s Carrington training complex. Lampard’s hypocrisy is exposed, and back-to-back home defeats against the Red Devils and Spurs follow as the fans’ anger grows.
After being knocked out of the Champions League by surprise package Genk, it doesn’t take long for fully grown adults in the Stamford Bridge crowd to get their crayons and felt tips out. On crudely-torn cardboard they scrawl messages such as, “TIME TO TURN THE LAMPS OFF!” and “PLZ DON’T RUIN UR LEGASEE FRANKIE!”
As the season descends into farce, the Blues secure a disappointing seventh-placed finish. Following the final game of the season, Roman Abramovich makes his way down to the dressing room to hand Lampard his P45 in front of the team in a final act of humiliation.
Chelsea promptly spin the merry-go-round once again in the search for a hugely experienced, proven manager to turn the club’s fortunes around, and the cycle repeats again. At least it’s never boring, eh?