It just wasn’t supposed to end this way, was it? Frank Lampard’s arrival as Chelsea manager was intended to usher in a new dawn at Stamford Bridge, the arrival of one of the club’ most iconic figures and a young manager who swiftly showed some overdue faith in youth.
Lampard won plenty of plaudits during a debut season that saw him secure a top four finish and an FA Cup final appearance in difficult circumstances, whilst his integration of a number academy graduates – including Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James – could yet save Chelsea millions in the transfer market.
However, expectations soon changed following a huge investment in new additions during the summer, and as results dipped it soon became clear that ‘Super Frank’ was just another name thrown onto the managerial scrapheap by a trigger-happy Russian owner.
Thomas Tuchel is the latest name to try his luck at pleasing the ever-demanding billionaire, the former Paris Saint-German boss incredibly the 12th permanent appointment of the Abramovich regime.
We’ve decided to look back on the others to have taken on the pressure of the Chelsea hot-seat, here is our ratings of every Chelsea manager of the Roman Abramovich era:
Ranieri was Chelsea’s manager upon the arrival of Abramovich and had done well in the role, saving the club from financial ruin by securing the Champions League football that paved the way for the Russian’s takeover.
The Italian was handed a significant war-chest during Abramovich’s first summer at the helm and splashed out more than £120m on a host of new names including the likes of Hernan Crespo, Claude Makelele and Joe Cole.
The billionaire-backed Blues made notable strides forward and secured a best-ever Premier League finish after finishing as runners-up to Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’, in addition to eliminating their London rivals in the Champions League to reach the semi-finals.
Ranieri’s near misses were ultimately not enough to save his bacon, however, Abramovich making his first dismissal with the Russian’s sights set on an emerging managerial name.
Jose Mourinho’s charismatic conquest of the Champions League with Porto had drawn admiring glances from west London, with Abramovich securing a deal for the Portuguese after he had just guided the Portuguese side to a shock European triumph.
Mourinho iconically declared himself as the ‘Special One’ upon his opening press conference and there were few disagreeing with that sentiment following a brilliant start to his Chelsea career, claiming five major trophies including ending a 50-year wait for league title success with back-to-back triumphs.
His relationship with Abramovich deteriorated, however, and he departed by mutual consent as the club’s most decorated manager, only to return six years later and bring yet more silverware to Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho’s second spell brought a third Premier League title and another League Cup trophy, though the matrimony between club and manager ended once again in ignominious fashion following a disastrous run of form during the Blues’ title defence.
Mourinho’s relations with Chelsea may have soured after spells at Manchester United and Tottenham, but he remains the greatest manager in the club’s history.
Mourinho’s replacement was Avram Grant, a man whose previous coaching experience was confined to his native Israel but a trusted ally of owner Abramovich.
In fairness, Grant made a good fist of the role despite being vastly unqualified for one of Europe’s leading clubs, though his tenure will be most remembered for a series of near-misses as Chelsea finished as runners-up in the Premier League, League Cup and Champions League.
He left after less than a season in charge, though possesses the joint-best win percentage (67%) of any manager in the Abramovich era.
Luiz Felipe Scolari
After the underwhelming appointment of Grant, Abramovich went big once more with the capture of World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Brazilian tipped to be the man to bring a samba style to Chelsea’s play.
Everything appeared to be going smoothly as Chelsea began the season brilliantly, winning 10 of their opening 13 fixtures and securing 5-0 thrashings over the likes of Middlesborough and Sunderland.
The club’s early-season momentum soon began to wobble, however, and as the Blues looked in danger of slipping out of the top four following a goalless draw with Hull, Abramovich pulled the trigger once more.
Just seven months after his appointment, Scolari was the latest managerial casualty at the Bridge.
Guus Hiddink may only have been an interim appointment but makes this feature after two separate spells in charge, the Dutchman the coach Abramovich twice turned to in order to steady a ship in danger of sinking.
Hiddink first arrived following Scolari’s sacking and revived the club’s fortunes, winning 11 of his 13 league fixtures in charge to secure a third-placed finish and lifting the FA Cup after beating Everton at Wembley.
Hiddink’s impact saw a clamour for him to remain in charge but he returned to his post as Russia manager at the end of the season, though later returned on an interim basis once more following the end of Jose Mourinho’s second spell in charge.
He arrived with defending champions Chelsea in turmoil and just two places above the relegation zone, and whilst moving the Blues away from danger they eventually finished the season a dismal 10th.
Abramovich’s trigger-happy style has often been criticised, but the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti remains perhaps the most puzzling of the Russian’s rash managerial changes.
Ancelotti guided Chelsea to a first-ever domestic double during a debut season that saw the west Londoners score more than a century of Premier League goals, seemingly providing the owner with the success and style he had craved.
Chelsea’s fortunes dipped somewhat the following season as they finished as runners-up to Manchester United, which in the eyes of Abramovich was enough to see Ancelotti given the boot.
Harsh, to say the least.
Andre Villas-Boas was lauded as the second coming of Jose Mourinho following his eerily similar achievements with Porto, his single season in charge resulting in a league, cup and Europa League treble, with the Portuguese title claimed in unbeaten fashion.
Chelsea paid a world-record €15m to secure the young coach and it was an investment that failed to pay dividends, the comparisons to compatriot Mourinho appearing misguided with the job proving too much too soon.
He won just 48% of his games in charge and was sacked in the February of his debut season, Chelsea having fallen three points adrift of the Champions League places.
Roberto Di Matteo
Thrust into a caretaker position following the axing of Villas-Boas, few would have expected the former fans’ favourite to oversee the greatest night in Chelsea’s history.
Matteo’s managerial experience consisted of spells at MK Dons and West Brom before being promoted from his position as assistant to unexpectedly guide a struggling Chelsea side to Champions League glory.
He added the FA Cup in an incredible double and was rightly awarded the job on a permanent basis, only to be sacked just months later as the holders crashed out of the Champions League’s group stages.
An unpopular appointment of epic proportions, Rafael Benitez had spent six years plotting Chelsea’s downfall as Liverpool manager and the west London side’s supporters had not forgotten a number of thinly-veiled jibes in their direction.
His appointment resulted in an uncomfortable relationship between manager and fanbase that can best be described as frosty, even though he led the Blues to Europa League success during his time in charge.
The fiery Italian arrived with an impressive reputation having previously guided Juventus to three consecutive titles, whilst he would add another championship during a memorable debut season in charge of Chelsea.
Conte’s mid-season switch to his preferred back-three formation laid the foundations for a title charge, the Blues winning a then joint-record of 13 consecutive league fixtures to amass an unassailable lead.
Chelsea finished the season as champions with 93 points and having won a record 30 games, though Conte’s second season failed to match those standards despite adding the FA Cup to his collection.
Their fifth-placed finish saw him become the latest name pushed out the Stamford Bridge exit door.
From one Italian tactician to another, Maurizio Sarri was named as Conte’s replacement with the manager’s fascinating tactical Sarri-ball style having won plenty of plaudits at Napoli.
His reign was a mix of highs, lows and unrest on the terraces, though Sarri secured the first major trophy of his career as Chelsea thrashed Arsenal in the Europa League final.
He walked away at the end of the 2018/19 season after just a single season in charge, returning to Italy to take charge of Juventus.
So here we are, the latest victim of Abramovich’s notoriously difficult to please ownership, the man christened ‘Super Frank’ unceremoniously sacked following a shaky start to the season.
It was not Lampard’s guiding of Derby to a sixth-placed finish in the Championship that wooed Abramovich but his previous association with the club, his appointment made at a time when few coaches would have relished taking charge of a Chelsea side under a FIFA-imposed transfer ban.
Lampard deserves credit for making long-overdue use of Chelsea’s excellent academy system and perhaps that may be the lasting legacy of his reign, the likes of Mason Mount and Reece James players who could provide the backbone of the Blues’ side for some time.
Few can blame the 42-year-old for seizing the opportunity handed to him, but there is no doubting it proved too big for a manager still learning on the job.
Read – Thomas Tuchel is a good tactical fit for Chelsea – but that may not be enough to guarantee success
See also – Five players who came to the Premier League at 30 or over and smashed it