Lampard, Drogba, Terry: The Return of the Player Manager?

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This year has been a rollercoaster of a season for Chelsea FC. Unfortunately it has been the sort of rollercoaster that comes to town with the travelling fair, held together with duct tape and precariously folded out of a converted caravan. Whilst the team have found themselves staggering off the ride with giddy smiles and a sense of relief at being in tact and the possibility of Champions League glory, Andres Villas Boas’s safety rail came off half way through, and has left, limping home after a nasty fall. It would seem the phrase ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ is lost on a certain wealthy Roman. ‘AVB’ was tasked with sprinkling his magical Portuguese managerial powers over the premiership to bring that instant success, akin to the ‘Get ripped in just four weeks using these three weird tips!’ pop-ups, that Abramovich so dearly craves.

This first half of the season saw scenes of Frank Lampard and co. sat looking glum on the bench as AVB attempted to dry-hump his inconsistent new system into place. At first it seemed to be working, but the rejuvenation of Arsenal and the strident rise of Tottenham soon overshadowed Chelsea. This and a loss of winning edge saw AVB out of a job by March.

Enter Roberto Di Matteo.

I say enter, but as AVB’s second in command he was pretty much there all along. Regardless, the Italian welcomed the Chelsea old guard in from the cold, welcoming them back into the starting eleven before all falling asleep in front of the fire together in each other’s arms…  Di Matteo guided them to F.A Cup glory and the fast-approaching Champions League Final against Germany’s powerhouse – Bayern Munich.

Should Chelsea seize the day and finally achieve the Champions League victory that has eluded them for so long I do believe that Di Matteo deserves to stay on as manager. It is still possible nonetheless that David Luiz will decide to play centre-forward and leave the Chelsea defence weeping goals as Frank Ribery and his chums take them on a trip to the cleaners. In this case, Di Matteo probably won’t receive the chance he deserves. In this case Abramovic should be looking to the backbone of his team: Lampard, Drogba or Terry, to take the Blues forward.

It is no secret that without these three ageing Chelsea stalwarts the team starts to falter, unfortunately they can’t seem to be able to get over their former lover – Jose Mourinho. One can only imagine tearful scenes in which Jose promised he would be back and the players all sobbed that although it would hurt them to watch, they would wait for him whilst he worked with other continental teams. This complex has developed to the point that it seems Chelsea are better off alone if they can’t have their special one.

Chelsea are no strangers to the curious and near extinct species known as the player manager. Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Viali enjoyed successful tenures as Chelsea player managers in the 90s, perhaps it is time to bring the role back to the top-flight? Lampard, Terry and Drogba display impressive leadership qualities on and off the pitch, and it has been said that they have been influencing how the team has been run in the second half of this season. The Chelsea old guard will play progressively less in coming years, but it can’t be denied that there are still a few years left on the clock for these players. Unless Mourinho makes his return, a player like Frank Lampard or Didier Drogba paired with an experienced assistant could form the basis of a managerial team respected by the players, and would instil the same self-assured togetherness that has characterised Chelsea for so long.

It might be time to try something a little different Roman, so offer the position internally, and keep things the same?

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I study history. I like sport.

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