With all the reports it’s hard to say I didn’t expect this, but upon learning of his sacking it felt unexpected. Early Monday morning history repeated itself as it inevitably does, and the decision to axe the man who loves, embodies, and knows this football club was done. Frank Lampard, his Chelsea dream, and the fans Chelsea project were no more.
Lampard did more than just win titles for our club – he, along with many others made me fall in love with the club and most importantly, the game. Although our managers constantly changed over the years, the spine of our team remained and the class of Lampard as a player and professional was undeniable.
However, the best players don’t always make the best coaches. So, when Lampard was in contention for the Chelsea job, it drew much attention. Along with it came worry, resistance, and fear, from many fans who did not want to bear sacking a legend. And although they knew the board would not hesitate in the ruthless ways they operate, other fans welcomed Lampard back home, accepting he would not be ready, but willing to weather the storm.
Lampard signified more than just a great player, he came back with intentions of restoring the golden ages of the club. With those intentions he brought all the nostalgia and passion Chelsea fans could ask for. With a focus on the youth of the club, Lampard’s first squad felt vastly different to previous Chelsea seasons. The new additions, having barely featured previously, felt almost like new transfers. And in this way the transfer ban was a blessing in disguise, as it forced us as a club to look ourselves in the eyes.
For the first time in a long time I felt a cultural resurgence at the club and along with it came a strong sense of unity in the fanbase. And even after his first game in the 4-0 defeat, something about us made me feel that this fall would end with us upright on our feet. And so the story of Frank Lampard’s reign began.
The foundation had been laid and opportunities created, for many players from the youth academy to be elevated. And from it sprung a season of success stories for many players. From Tammy, Mason, Reece, and CHO, the homegrown talent was fully on show. This was not to say our season was easy, for it was not until the last day we cemented a spot in Champions League.
This inspired much confidence in the club and the fans, as Frank Lampard came in and accomplished all this with a transfer ban. Lampard had done enough to earn his respect, and many were optimistic this may be the start of the first Chelsea project. Continuing to deviate from the norm, the ensuing months proved to be more positive for the club in form. A plethora of marquee signings looking to join our squad, distracting us from the raging pandemic, which allowed us to avoid the transfer swarm. The season began and the projected entered its next phase; reclaiming last season’s accomplishments, while closing the gap, were the expectations in the final days.
With a few shaky starts, the ball began to roll and Frank Lampard’s men were starting to take control. Expectations grew with every goal scored, and the fanbase’s eyes became set on an immediate award. Being top of the league in December, there was nowhere to go but down, and the difficult run of fixtures instantly took our prematurely placed crown. This is where the story only gets worse. For its the board not Frank Lampard, who are truly adverse. In his first poor spell, the board did not want to take a chance, and bid their farewell with hopes to excel.
So it’s with a heavy heart I say my goodbye, as seeing you go killed me inside. I know as I’ve said this should not have come as a surprise, but I chose to follow my blind optimism, rather than open my eyes. So thank you again for everything you have done, beginning things which had never begun. You took over when no one else would, with challenges on a monumental scale. No transfer window, experience, or Eden Hazard, you were setup to fail. Creating the pipeline for the youth will prove its value over the years, and credited to you, as we watch the players grow throughout their careers. From originally cast aside and snubbed, to a wise man once saying:
“They are the future of the club.”