It is fair to say that the pressure on Frank Lampard – if only from outside for the time being – is increasing as his Chelsea team continues to stall in the new year.
The Blues have had a string of tough results in December and early January after winning just once in their last seven games – a bleak run that culminated in their 3-1 home loss to Man City on Sunday.
Lampard has the worst points per game in the Premier League among club owner Roman Abramovich and the Russian billionaire are not at mercy when it comes to subpar managers who have hired and fired 14 different coaches since arriving in 2003.
Excluding the preliminary appointments of Ray Wilkins or Steve Holland, here is a list of those who have come and gone in the years before Lampard, their respective records, and what ultimately signaled their deaths as managers at Stamford Bridge.
1. Claudio Ranieri (September 2000 – May 2004)
Win rate: 54%
Ranieri was already in charge at Chelsea when Abramovich bought the club in the summer of 2003. It only lasted one more season, with the “Tinkerman” securing the club’s top spot in the Premier League (runner-up), only to be relieved of his duties a few days later.
Although the Italian was a fairly popular figure in the dugout, he was considered a holdover from the bygone age before Abramovich and eventually left the bridge after not winning a single trophy.
2. Jose Mourinho (June 2004 – September 2007)
Games: 185 games
Win rate: 67%
A bold, energetic and outspoken coach, former Porto FC coach Mourinho was the perfect embodiment of the new Chelsea ethos: spend big, win big.
Although the Blues adorned the squad with expensive £ 100m signings, they still finished second behind Arsenal’s “Invincibles” in Mourinho (and Abramovich’s) first real attack on the Premier League title.
Everything clicked on the second try: Mourinho took Chelsea to their first top title in half a century before keeping it the following year (2005-06) and winning a trophy double in 2006/07. After the 2007-08 season got off to a mediocre start and his side slipped to fifth, Mourinho stunned the world by knocking out Chelsea (although he still had three years left on his contract) after his bad relationship with Abramovich became irreversibly toxic was.
3. Avram Grant (September 2007 – May 2008)
Win rate: 67%
It is alleged that one of the main reasons for Mourinho’s displeasure was Abramovich’s decision to hire Grant as “director of football” in the summer of 2007.
The Israeli – a close personal friend of Abramovich – was hired to work closely with Andriy Shevchenko, a £ 31 million signature the chairman made against Mourinho’s will. Frictions over Mourinho’s persistent reluctance to give Shevchenko a season ultimately contributed to his resignation, with Grant stepping in despite lacking the required UEFA coaching qualifications.
Grant couldn’t compete with the players or fans, and many still sang Mourinho’s name during the games. He only lasted one season but was eliminated after leading his team to the 2008 Champions League final, which they lost to Manchester United on penalties in Moscow.
4. Luis Felipe Scolari (July 2008 – February 2009)
Win rate: 56%
Abramovich needed a big name to reassure fans. He took the plunge and hired Scolari, then head coach of the Portuguese national team, for a lucrative three-year contract that is considered to be one of the largest to have ever been handed over to a manager.
“Big Phil” lasted just seven months before paying the mid-season price for failing a compelling title challenge after falling seven points behind leaders Manchester United three months to the end of the season. He didn’t even have time to finish his English class.
After Chelsea was knocked down by Man City, Marcotti, Laurens & Ogden wonder why they looked so vulnerable.
5. Guus Hiddink (February 2009 – May 2009)
Games: 22 games
Win rate: 73%
After Scolari was dropped, the ever more affable Hiddink was appointed Chelsea’s new interim manager to oversee the season and save as much as possible while continuing his duties as Russian head coach.
After breathing life into an aging squad, Hiddink lost just one time in his tenure while promoting the Blues to the Champions League semi-finals (which they narrowly lost to Barcelona) and FA Cup glory in their last game in charge.
6. Carlo Ancelotti (June 2009 – May 2011)
Win rate: 61%
After spending the last eight years at his beloved Milan, Ancelotti became the sixth manager Abramovich hired in his first six years at Chelsea.
The Russian owner wanted to usher in a new era of stability and fairness. Ancelotti’s tenure was pretty quiet in the first year he won a league and cup double. However, it ended abruptly in the summer of 2011 after the Italian ended his second season without a trophy – the club’s first in three years without cutlery – despite Abramovich funding a huge £ 50million move for Fernando Torres in January.
Ancelotti suffered what may have been the most unworthy end to his tenure at another manager’s Chelsea since 2003, when the popular Italian was informed of his sacking in a corridor in Goodison Park before he even had time to get on the team bus after a 1-0 defeat at Everton .
7. Andres Villas-Boas (June 2011 – March 2012)
Win rate: 48%
Having previously enjoyed immediate success with a young hot shot from FC Porto, Chelsea hired Villas-Boas on the back of his impressive league / cup / Europa League tripling last season. Unfortunately, the enthusiastic Portuguese coach was the same age as some of the older players in his squad and could not claim any seniority over them during his short stint.
He was gone nine months later, and Abramovich pulled the plug after watching AVB flounder in a 1-0 loss to West Brom, which extended his pathetic run to just three wins in 12 league games.
8. Roberto Di Matteo (March 2012 – November 2012)
Win rate: 57%
Di Matteo was already a cult hero at Chelsea and was warmly welcomed when he rose from assistant coach to interim coach after the departure of Villas-Boas.
He then somehow managed to win both the Champions League and FA Cup in his first 21 games before hitting a new two-year full-time contract and getting fired for a poor streak of accomplishments, all within an eight-month hurricane .
9. Rafa Benitez (November 2012 – May 2013)
Win rate: 58%
Another temporary ex-Liverpool boss, Benitez, was brought in to stabilize the ship for the remainder of the season after Di Matteo was punished for slipping too far behind leaders Man City.
He didn’t have long to work his magic, but Benitez still managed to win the Europa League (an achievement he first did with Valencia in 2003/04) and a top four in the Premier League secure before moving to Napoli.
10. Jose Mourinho (June 2013 – December 2015)
Win rate: 59%
The “Special One” returned ahead of the 2013-14 season and quickly brought the band back together to reunite with the old Chelsea guard of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Petr Cech and Michael Essien.
The Blues finished third in Mourinho’s second trick in season one, but after a summer overhaul, the title returned to the bridge the following year when the league was won with three games remaining. However, 2015-16 turned out to be a annus horribilis The season started really badly for Mourinho when Chelsea lost nine of their first 16 games.
The atmosphere around the club was really toxic. Abramovich sacked the Portuguese again in mid-December when Chelsea were just one point above the relegation zone.
11. Guus Hiddink (December 2015 – May 2016)
Win rate: 37%
With the story very repetitive in relation to Mourinho’s death, a familiar face also returned to pull Chelsea out of the swamp.
Hiddink agreed to take over the reign for the remainder of the 2015-16 season and promptly went undefeated in his first 12 games, ultimately leading to a nice, secure midfield – which, given the chaos, is far more of an accomplishment than it is sounds like he’s inherited.
12. Antonio Conte (July 2016 – July 2018)
Win rate: 65%
Conte switched from the Azzurri to the blues when he agreed to take over at Euro 2016 after his foray with Italy.
Having finished tenth the previous season, Conte was an instant hit on the bridge. He brought Chelsea back to the top of the league by dominating the 2016-17 title and setting a new record for most wins in a single season (30 wins from 38 games). He then won the FA Cup in the 2017/18 season before it all fell apart shortly afterwards. In fact, the Blues finished fifth in the league, missing out on the all-important qualification for the Champions League.
Conte was fired and replaced, but not before he reportedly cost the club nearly £ 30 million in legal fees and compensation as a result of litigation that continued for months after his bitter departure.
13. Maurizio Sarri (July 2018 – June 2019)
Win rate: 62%
With the ongoing Conte fallout in the background, Sarri was chosen as the man to replace his compatriot who had excelled in his homeland through Napoli.
Unfortunately the chain-smoking Sarri couldn’t adapt easily and although the results on the pitch were actually quite good, the Italian struggled with fluent communication and quickly became an unpopular figure with the fans.
He won the Europa League and finished third in the Premier League in his first responsible season, but that didn’t stop him from joining Juventus after less than a year in England – 337 days to be precise.
14. Frank Lampard (July 2019 – today)
Win rate: 51.25%
After cutting his teeth with Derby, Lampard was offered the opportunity to return to his beloved Chelsea in the summer of 2019.
In truth, the Blues were in a bit of a bind that not many well-known coaches would be willing to operate, A) without the services of star player Eden Hazard, who had just joined Real Madrid, and B) under the constraints of an obstructive FIFA transfer ban .
It fell to a true club legend to take up the gauntlet, and Lampard did it with gusto, bringing youth and academy graduates to the first team and finishing fourth in his first season.
Will he get the time to fix the ship and repeat the feat this season? Only time – and the whims of Abramovich’s notoriously itchy trigger finger – will tell.