Football news - Frank Lampard or John Terry would be mad to take Chelsea job now
It's Frank Lampard v John Terry for the Premier League – one way or another. But is all this talk of one of them becoming Chelsea's next special one a case of too much too young? Dan Levene takes a look...
The bookies make one man odds-on to be next Chelsea boss, while former Blues captain Dennis Wise says the guy in the opposing dugout will make it before the favourite gets a chance.
Derby versus Aston Villa seems to be less about the prize of a Premier League slot, and more about who manages Chelsea – if you believe some people.
It all recalls a game almost exactly 15 years ago to the day. Except on that occasion it was Monaco v Porto, Didier Descamps v Jose Mourinho, for the richest prize in football: the Champions League trophy.
The vacancy at the top seems almost a certainty now. The noises coming out of Chelsea, out of the various playing camps, and out of more than one team in Italy suggest someone is about to do Roman Abramovich a big favour.
Maurizio Sarri isn't happy, his players aren't happy, his employers aren't happy – and, most of all, Chelsea's fans aren't happy. If someone, say Juventus, should offer £5m the Russian's way for Sarri, it would tidy-up that small issue - not to mention chipping-in towards paying-off the other Italian manager still sat on the club's books.
And that would create a vacancy, where candidates seem to be thin on the ground.
So much money seems to be piling in on Frank Lampard, that there is talk of his appointment being a foregone conclusion. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it isn't. But piling cash on the next leader of the Conservative party is a safer market than that of the next Chelsea boss.
Lampard, himself, has done nothing to dampen down the speculation, only insisting that it is an 'easy link' for click-hungry journalists to make.
Like John Terry, that man in the opposite Championship play-off final dugout, Lampard is only just starting out on phase two of his footballing career. He's had a very good first season with Derby County. Not a great one mind, but a very good one.
Chelsea owner Abramovich celebrates with Lampard and Terry after English Premier League soccer match against Bolton Wanderers at Reebok Stadium. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich (R) celebrates with his players Frank Lampard (C) and John Terry
Image credit: Reuters
He has shown all the signs of potential which suggest he can be a great manager in the longer term. And he has also shown many of the signs of frailty which can dog a young coach if he is not willing to learn and adapt.
Luckily for Lampard, he has exactly the sort of character which lends itself to the life-long learning needed in exactly this situation. This much is certain: a Lampard appointment would be overwhelmingly popular at Chelsea.
A homecoming hero, he would immediately lift the mood after a miserable season when it comes to club-fan relations. His personality, and history, would fit the club perfectly right now. And there are plenty of coaches who have stepped straight from playing greatness to coaching success.
He might be another Zinedine Zidane... but, on the other hand, Chelsea have been burned before by coaches who weren't quite ready for the big stage – take Andre Villas-Boas.
And then there is Lampard's own, unspoken views on all this. It's an over-reported fact that he is a bright footballer. And he's certainly canny when it comes to how he markets and positions himself.
He knows the life-cycle of your average Chelsea coach better than most – having lived through 10 such cycles as a player. If it all goes right, one might even make it to a third season. If it goes even slightly wrong, it could be over by Christmas.
Ignore the source perhaps but Brendan Rodgers, as Swansea boss, had it right back in 2012 when he said of stories linking him with Chelsea: "I am trying to build my career and not destroy it."
Lampard's day will come. Perhaps Terry's too. But it would be such a waste if that moment were to arrive too early.