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Premier League Clubs Must be Smarter Next Season

Premier League’s Manager Merry-Go-Round More Like Ghost Train Last Season

That was a stupid season wasn’t it? Lots of bad football, teams underperforming left and right and the well run clubs showing themselves as a cut above those run by people who wouldn’t be out of place in a circus.

This season we saw Southampton fire Ralph Hasenhuttl and appoint Nathan Jones, before realising the error of their ways and dismissing the man they paid millions to get after just 14 games. It came as no surprise when they were relegated.

We watched as Leeds brought in Javi Gracia to replace Jesse Marsch, the manager they had sacked Bielsa to bring in, only for them to then turn around and bring Sam Allardyce for the last four games in a bid to save their season, and their Premier League status. One point from four games later, they joined Southampton in the Championship.

Photo: IMAGO

Leicester waiting far too long to get rid of Brendan Rodgers and by the time they tried to replace him they couldn’t tempt one of their preferred targets to the King Power and ended the season with Dean Smith overseeing his second straight relegation.

Of all the clubs that did silly things regarding managers though, Everton and Chelsea stand out from the crowd because of the manager they shared this season. Frank Lampard.

Frank Lampard: Simply Not A Good Manager

Frank Lampard is not a good manager, but has been given opportunity after opportunity because he was once a top class player. Starting off with his uncle, Harry Redknapp, convincing Derby County owner Mel Morris to hire Lampard over better qualified candidates when the Rams were looking to replace Gary Rowett.

Lampard took over a team who had finished 6th, spent heavily on transfer fees and wages and finished 6th. It wasn’t a bad season by any means, Derby got to the playoff final. But Lampard had been brought in to bring the club back to the Premier League and hadn’t done so. He had signed a multi-year contract though, so the assumption was that he’d give it another crack the following year. Instead, he walked away. Lured to London by a job he had no business even being considered for.

Chelsea had just finished third and won the Europa League. By any measure, the Chelsea job is one of the ten biggest jobs in European football. It’s a job that had enticed some of the world’s top managers, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Antonio Conte, but apparently the best Chelsea could do was a man with one season in the Championship. Frank Lampard was the new Chelsea manager.

In his first season, he oversaw a significant regression. Chelsea finished fourth, and failed to bring home any silverware. Most managers would be chastised for such failure at a club that had become synonymous with success, but not Frank. Instead his pals in the media rallied around him. Frank had done a great job, we were told, because they hadn’t regressed as much as people expected them to under his watch. Whether they realised that while trying to praise him they were actually admitting that he wasn’t up to the job is anybody’s guess.

Photo: IMAGO

There were excuses of course. Chelsea had a transfer embargo. Ignore the fact that they were allowed sign Mateo Kovacic, or that Lampard was able to add Christian Pulisic – signed the previous January, along with Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham – all returning from loan, to the squad. All four played pivotal roles, and hadn’t been available to the previous manager, but Frank was apparently working with things stacked against him. It was also ignored that the sole reason Chelsea even finished in the top four was that Leicester had a historic collapse when football restarted after Covid had brought things to a halt.

On to the summer of 2020 and Lampard is given a large warchest to target Europe’s best players. He spent over £220million and had Chelsea sitting in ninth position when the hammer fell. Lampard was sacked after a run of five defeats and only seven points from the previous eight games. Thomas Tuchel would take over and go on to win the European Cup.

Tuchel’s success in the Champions League, as well as the fact he got the team back into the top four before the end of the season, should have highlighted just what a poor job Lampard had done but of course his pals in the media once again stepped up to his defense. Some even tried to credit him for the Champions League success. He failed at Chelsea, but still came away smelling of roses.

After a year out of the managerial game he reappeared. This time at Everton. Everton sat 16th in the table. Lampard took them into the bottom three, before taking them back out and finishing in 16th. He was given credit for “saving” them. Going into his first full season, there was talk of them finishing in the top half. Frank had a plan you see, during his year away from management he had assembled an “all-star coaching team” and with a pre-season to work with he’d be able to implement his ideas and plans. I’m not sure how long it took to implement “Go out there and express yourselves” but it feels like there might not have been much else done during pre-season.

Lampard was sacked a week shy of his one year anniversary at Everton, with his team sitting second from bottom in the league. Sean Dyche managed to keep them up, but has gotten little praise for the job he’s done just as Frank would have gotten none of the blame had they gone down.

Lampard’s record at Everton, 12 wins and 24 losses in 44 games, is the type of record that should stop him from getting another Premier League job but fear not! Our hero would not sit at home for long.

Photo: IMAGO

Chelsea, a complete circus this season under ringmaster Todd Boehly, decided to sack Graham Potter and wanted a caretaker manager to see out the end of the season. Having spent over £250million in the summer only to sack Thomas Tuchel a week after the transfer window closed, followed by spending £20million to buy Potter out of his Brighton contract and then flinging another £300million plus around in the January window, Boehly had sacked Potter after just seven months in the job and been forced to pay off the remainder of his five year deal, bringing his total spending for the season to well north of £600million when factoring in transfers, manager hirings and manager firings. How could Chelsea compound all of their bad decisions this season? By bringing Frank Lampard back to the club of course!

Lampard oversaw the last 11 games of the season, and managed one win and two draws. Again, an appalling performance. But again, no criticism for Frank. It wasn’t his fault, it was someone else fault. Never mind that despite Chelsea being terrible all season their worst spell by far came under Frank, Frank had done the best he could. That was the narrative.

And that narrative is what will help him land another job. He failed at Derby, and then walked out on them. He failed at Chelsea. He failed at Everton. And then he failed again at Chelsea. Four jobs, none of which he was even remotely qualified for but was given because of his reputation from his playing days. Four jobs in which he failed. But he will get another chance. You can bet your life on that.

But that chance should not come in the Premier League. He’s not a Premier League calibre manager. He might not even be a Championship calibre manager at this point. Will his ego allow him to drop down to the Championship, or even League One? Probably not. Will there be a Premier League club stupid enough to hire him? Probably. But there shouldn’t be. Frank Lampard was a great player, but as good as he was as a player is as bad as he is as a manager. He belongs in a TV studio, not a Premier League dugout.

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