After a 4-0 opening day mauling, Frank Lampard faces an uphill struggle to match the glory he enjoyed in his playing days.
The fifteenth edition of the Unofficial Football Index Weekly magazine titled ‘Chelsea Facing Tough Season’ is out now and can be viewed in full via Twitter @ FI_WeeklyMag.
A question that pops up from time to time on forums and quizzes is whether you would prefer to be forgotten or hatefully remembered when you die.
It’s a profound question in the most extreme; no one wants to look back on a wasted life, yet to cause a negative impact goes against human nature.
Roman Abramovich will certainly not be forgotten.Football Index Weekly Magazine
Yet for all the good he has done at Chelsea – the millions ploughed in that have seen them become one of the game’s biggest forces, lifting 5 Premier League titles and the 2012 Champions League since arriving in 2003 – he will be heavily criticised for the manner of his hire-fire policy with managers.
Be it the fiery relationship with Jose Mourinho, the manager who first brought them success, or Carlo Ancelotti being dismissed despite having the third-highest win percentage in Premier League history, the owner has not been afraid to pull the trigger when others may have been more hesitant.
This summer has seen yet another managerial change, with Maurizio Sarri’s third-placed league finish, League Cup final appearance and Europa League winner’s medal still not enough to satisfy the owner. Yet this time is different.
Chelsea is currently embroiled in a transfer ban, meaning they have been unable to strengthen their squad this summer.
With a necessity to rely on youth prospects, this same approach to the management has seen them appoint a club legend with just one season of experience under his belt.
As both a fan-favourite and thanks to his work with several young loan players last season, Frank Lampard will be afforded more patience by fans and owner alike during what is likely to be a difficult season. But have the club entirely underestimated the challenges they face this season?
They have enjoyed great success at youth level in recent years, and with an army of prospects out on loan, the approach feels like a positive step for the purists who feel money and foreign talent is ruining the game.
But in reality, things could well be about to take a turn for the worse at Stamford Bridge. The first game of the season saw them thumped 4-0 by a Manchester United side who themselves have endured recent struggles.
There were bright moments, yet there was also a naivety in their play that led to total collapse at Old Trafford. Simply installing a fan favourite as a manager, and promoting youth talents, is not enough.
Chelsea has lost their talisman, Eden Hazard (£4.35) this summer and, due to their ban, have been unable to replace him. Whilst plans were made ahead of time to secure Christian Pulisic and Mateo Kovacic (£0.66), this is a squad that is in dire need of a refresh.
This is not Frank Lampard’s fault, and there is little he can do right now other than steady the ship, but this is nonetheless the task which he has decided to undertake.
What makes it even more daunting is the improving strength of their rivals.
Both Manchester City and Liverpool look on another level, whilst the remainder of the top 6 invested heavily this summer.
If the flaws in this defeat against United are not shown to be an exception to the rule, Chelsea could well find themselves in a battle simply to stay in the top half of the Premier League, with the likes of Leicester, Wolves and Everton all eyeing to break their way into Europe.
This is not simply an overreaction based on one result, but a genuine fear that has been burning for several months.
Yes, it could just be a bad day at the office that is easily repaired over the coming weeks with a few positive results.
But equally, the club currently has all the ingredients for a season of disappointment which, in this current climate, could spell disaster for the longer-term future of the club.
Firing a fan favourite could be the latest in a long-line of sackings but, with a potentially difficult season ahead, it may not be one for which Abramovich is hatefully remembered.