Chelsea announced that Frank Lampard is their new manager on Thursday after the 41-year-old signed a three-year contract in west London.
He’ll get a massive welcome from the fans as a true legend of the club. He spent 13 years at Stamford Bridge, where he won nine major trophies and is still the club’s all-time top goalscorer.
It’s a great opportunity, one of the biggest jobs in British football, but he must be pinching himself at how quickly it’s come – in only his second year of management.
In Lampard’s favour, he’s used to the media spotlight and he proved his chops in a tough season with Derby in the Championship. He came within 90 minutes of promotion and getting them to the finals of the play-offs would have been considered a big success.
But there are issues at Chelsea. Eden Hazard has gone and the club’s subject to a transfer embargo.
Ironically, the transfer ban could mean the job has come just at the right time for Lampard.
Chelsea have a wealth of young talent at the club and there’s been problems integrating them with the first-team, most recently with Sarri and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Who better to relate to these players and to foster a new team ethos than Lampard?
To that end, he’s already said one of his first moves will be to integrate academy players with first-team players at the Cobham training ground, and he worked with Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori at Derby.
Academy staff are said to be excited at the new developments and it could finally give players like Tammy Abraham and Mount a first-team shot.
It’s a big risk. He’s not an experienced manager and he’s never coached at Premier League level. He might be seen as a long-term project but there will be limits and expectations even for his first season. If Chelsea don’t get off to a fast start then the pressure will ratchet up quickly and fans’ feelings could turn.
After questions were posed when he took over at Derby, the spotlight on Lampard will be diamond white now, but if he succeeds he could well help usher in a sea change in attitudes towards managers at the top level where too many teams still put safety and experience before risk and progression.