EPL

Chelsea sack Lampard: Returning heroes - the hits and misses

By Sports Desk January 25, 2021

Frank Lampard's appointment as Chelsea head coach was widely heralded by the club's fanbase, who were desperate for a returning hero to succeed in the dugout.

Just 18 months later and Lampard – the club's record all-time leading goalscorer who won 11 major honours at Stamford Bridge – has been sacked.

The Blues have proven in the past there is little time for sentimentality or to dwell on past successes and not even a player with the stature Lampard holds at the club has been granted extra time.

Lampard's first season in charge brought a top-four finish and an FA Cup final but a run of just two wins in eight league matches saw Chelsea wield the axe with the team ninth and 11 points off top.

A huge close-season recruitment drive that saw the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell arrive perhaps gave the Blues hierarchy itchy feet and brought about the end for Lampard.

With that in mind, we have looked at some hits and misses when players have returned to a club as boss.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping down in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint, though a slump this term has left his long-term future shrouded in doubt.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Conte is now battling to end the Bianconeri's domestic dominance as head coach of Inter.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try to save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a relegation play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

JURY'S OUT

Mikel Arteta

Arteta served Arsenal with distinction as a player between 2011 and 2016, captaining the club and winning the FA Cup twice. Success in football's oldest cup competition followed last term, with Arteta having replaced Unai Emery in December 2019. After finishing eighth, Arsenal defeated Liverpool on penalties to win the Community Shield but eight defeats from 19 league games in this campaign have left Arsenal 11th and 13 points off top spot.

Andrea Pirlo

Lampard's opportunity at Chelsea arrived when Maurizio Sarri departed for Juventus, but his stint in charge at the Bianconeri lasted just one season despite winning the Serie A title. Pirlo won four Scudetti, the Supercoppa Italiana twice and the Coppa Italia during a four-year stint as a player in Turin and was appointed head coach just a week after being installed as Under-23 boss. So far it has been a mixed bag in Juve's hunt for a 10th straight title, with six draws and two defeats in 18 matches leaving them seven points back of league leaders Milan – albeit they do have a game in hand. Pirlo also collected a first trophy courtesy of victory over Napoli in the Supercoppa Italiana last week.

Related items

  • Paul Pogba ‘sad, shocked and heartbroken’ after being banned for doping Paul Pogba ‘sad, shocked and heartbroken’ after being banned for doping

    Juventus and France midfielder Paul Pogba said he was “sad, shocked and heartbroken” after being banned from football for a doping offence.

    The former Manchester United player was on Thursday handed a four-year ban, according to reports in Italy.

    The 30-year-old was provisionally suspended by Italy’s national anti-doping tribunal in September after testing positive for testosterone following Juve’s Serie A match with Udinese on August 20, where he was an unused substitute.

    And, after the failed test was confirmed by Italian anti-doping body Nado in a second sample in October, the four-year suspension requested by the prosecutor’s office has now reportedly been granted.

    Pogba has responded by issuing a statement on social media saying he has “never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations”.

    He also said he will be lodging an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the ban.

    He said on Instagram: “I have today been informed of the Tribunale Nazionale Antidoping’s decision and believe that the verdict is incorrect.

    “I am sad, shocked and heartbroken that everything I have built in my professional playing career has been taken away from me.

    “When I am free of legal restrictions the full story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Paul Labile Pogba (@paulpogba)

    “As a professional athlete I would never do anything to enhance my performance by using banned substances and have never disrespected or cheated fellow athletes and supporters of any of the teams I have played for, or against.

    “As a consequence of the decision announced today I will appeal this before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

    Pogba became the world’s most expensive footballer when he moved to Manchester United from Juve for £89million in 2016, before rejoining the Italian giants on a free transfer in the summer of 2022.

    The 2018 World Cup-winner has featured only sparingly since returning to Turin after a number of injury setbacks, making six Serie A appearances last season and two this term.

  • I don’t care about his past – La Liga boss hoping Mason Greenwood stays in Spain I don’t care about his past – La Liga boss hoping Mason Greenwood stays in Spain

    The president of La Liga says he “doesn’t care” about Mason Greenwood’s past and wants the Manchester United forward to stay in Spain beyond this season.

    The 22-year-old faced charges including attempted rape and assault but the Crown Prosecution Service announced in February last year that the case had been discontinued.

    He moved to Getafe on loan last summer, and La Liga chief Javier Tebas has been impressed with him to such a degree he hopes he stays for the longer term.

    “He’s doing really well at Getafe as a player and I hope he continues to be successful and he continues to stay in Spanish football because that’s always good for us,” Tebas told a media briefing at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit on Thursday.

    “He is just another player. He had a past, but not a past we can do anything about. He was innocent and wasn’t condemned. We can’t be judges for everything. If we did that, we’d have no teams.

    “I’m a lawyer, so it’s important to say he is not condemned. He was acquitted here (in the UK). Should we have reopened the case in Spain? Do I know the case in great detail? No.

    “Greenwood was not condemned, so I don’t care.”

    Manchester United’s co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe said last week that a fresh decision would be made on Greenwood this summer now that Ineos has been delegated control of football operations at Old Trafford.

    Reports last year that United were planning to retain him following an internal investigation were met by public outcry and Ratcliffe acknowledges that a decision will have to be made when Greenwood returns about what happens next – but insists nothing has been finalised yet.

    “It’s quite clear we have to make a decision. There is no decision that’s been made,” Ratcliffe said at a media briefing to mark the completion of his purchase of a minority stake in United.

    Asked asked if the Greenwood situation would be a “fresh decision”, Ratcliffe said: “Yeah we will. Absolutely. We will make a decision, and we will justify it one way or the other.”

    Ratcliffe added: “He’s on loan obviously, but he’s not the only one – we’ve got one or two footballers that we have to deal with and we have to make a decision on, so we will do that.”

  • Thomas Tuchel and Bayern Munich take ‘energy’ from Leipzig win Thomas Tuchel and Bayern Munich take ‘energy’ from Leipzig win

    Bayern Munich boss Thomas Tuchel wants to build on his side’s last-gasp win over Leipzig when they travel to Freiburg on Friday.

    Harry Kane’s stoppage-time winner last Sunday ended Bayern’s run of three straight defeats in all competitions.

    “It’s been a good week,” Tuchel told a press conference. “A win always helps everyone, particularly a last-minute win. It’s given us confidence and a positive general feeling.

    “We’ve had a good week, the messaging hasn’t changed much. We’re carrying on. Tomorrow it’s about being ready. The focus is more than ever on the here and now.”

    Bayern remain eight points adrift of Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen so their season probably hinges on overturning a 1-0 deficit against Lazio in the second leg of their Champions League meeting on Tuesday.

    But Tuchel insisted: “The match takes place before Lazio. It’s a completely different match.

    “The best preparation for one match is a successful performance. We have to take it up a notch. We managed a little uptick against Leipzig, which has given us energy.

    “I’m confident we’ll win tomorrow, but it’ll only happen with full focus. It’s always difficult in Freiburg.

    “They’re very flexible, very variable and do a lot of running. They carry the ball well down the right with (Ritsu) Doan. (Vincenzo) Grifo on the left tries to be a threat with crosses from deep.

    “They also use long balls with up to seven attacking players. We need answers and that’s what we’ll prepare the team for. It’s always passionate in Freiburg, too.”

    Tuchel will hand a late fitness test to former Manchester City winger Leroy Sane.

    “Leroy always wants to play,” he said. “He’s someone who can tolerate pain extremely well. He’s felt something in the last few weeks.

    “Maybe he’s been grinning and bearing it a bit too much. I get the impression he’s not completely free. He has a lot of aches and pains and is paying a bit of a price for the overload.

    “We need to find the best solution for tomorrow. He’s doing an individual test now. If he can, we’ll take him into the final training session.

    “We’ll see if he can make the squad tomorrow and perhaps help us from the bench. We have to look from day to day.”

    Matthijs de Ligt is suspended in Freiburg so Minjae Kim will come into the side.

    “Serge Gnabry is back in training but it’s too early to take him,” added Tuchel.

    “Alphonso Davies is also back in training, he’ll be in the squad. Kingsley Coman, Sacha Boey and Noussair Mazraoui aren’t available.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.