Lampard
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Chelsea Football Club are in trouble. An FA Cup victory over a nondescript Championship team can’t change that. With reports that manager and former golden boy Frank Lampard is about to be taken out behind the sheds and shot (Eds, please fact check), let’s take a look at who could replace him if – when? – that happens.

Thomas Tuchel

Tuchel is undoubtedly the favourite to take over from Lampard in West London. The Sharp Dressed Man has only been on the market for a few months after being unceremoniously dumped by PSG. That said, not succeeding at PSG is usually not a career death knell, given the Parisian club is considered a cashed-up basket case. Not unlike Chelsea, to a certain extent.

The Chelsea role would suit Tuchel down to the ground. He has openly and repeatedly stated that he doesn’t want to be a traditional – in the British sense – manager. Rather, he’d prefer to exclusively be the coach of the first team squad whilst letting someone else take care of the business of transfers and contacts. That happens to be Chelsea’s exact model.

Tactically, Tuchel is as astute as they come – a clear departure from Lampard who constantly sways between an attacking and defensive focus, usually at the expense of the other. The German has trophies on his shelf, winning silverware at PSG and Borussia Dortmund. He’s also a straight talker to the point of being blunt. A kick squarely up the arse wouldn’t go astray in the Stamford Bridge dressing room.

Massimilliano Allegri

Max Allegri is a serial winner, with six Serie A titles in the space of ten years, including one at Milan who have reverted to mediocrity since he left. With a record such as his, it’s still baffling that Allegri can’t find employment at any club, let alone a top team.

That said, the concern with Allegri is two fold. Firstly, he’s notoriously difficult to get along with, often clashing with his superiors. Also, he is extremely Italian in style. His teams play the stereotypical cattenaccio method to perfection – a style that hasn’t always translated well outside of Italy. Allegri builds teams that look to sit deep and are organised in defense, with disciplined midfield terriers in front of them, looking to bite ankles and create counter attacks, where quick forwards can capitalise.

There is one high profile example of a manager coaching that style both in and outside of Italy and succeeding over and over again: Jose Mourinho. Would Chelsea want to go down that path?

Luciano Spalletti

Spalletti is another that has a touch of the Mourinho to him. Rather than tactically, the Italian’s inner Mourinho comes out on the sidelines. He oscillates between quiet, arrogant brooding on the sidelines and violent fits of rage directed at the opposition and – usually – the fourth official. Spalletti is also a fiery presence in press conferences, constantly looking to creating dramas with the media or opposition in order to create an ‘us against the world’ mentality.

Spalletti likes to create a team in his image: hard running and physical. Given the almost total lack of intensity in Chelsea’s play under Lampard at times this season, Spalletti coming in lighting fires under particular players can only help. At least in the short term.

Leonardo Jardim

Chelsea have, on the whole, a young team. Jardim’s crowning achievement was taking a young Monaco team to the final of the Champions League back in 2017. That side was full of young but unfulfilled talent that has since spread its wings all over Europe. This Chelsea team is likewise full of young talent, though it’s without doubt far more credentialed. And far more expensive.

The Venezuelan is still somehow only 46 years old – only four years older than Lampard – so Chelsea will still have a manager with potential to grow with the team. In Jardim, they will also get a manager with a track record of winning with youth in both France and with Olympiacos in Greece.

Stylistically, Jardim likes to have his teams play the ball on the floor and build with short passing. Chelsea are a perhaps a midfield general short of being his ideal team, but are otherwise practically tailor made to play Jardim’s way.

Ernesto Valverde

The mild mannered Valverde was on a hiding to nothing managing a fading giant in Barcelona. Despite their now obvious issues, the club was still seen as elite through Valverde’s tenure. Yet, he suffered – as any Barca manager does – from Leo Messi syndrome: if you win, so what? You have Messi. If you lose, how? You have Messi.

Despite winning back to back La Liga titles, Valverde is perhaps best suited to reclamation projects. Twice he’s taken over Olympiacos in times of relative crisis and taken them back to the top of the pile in Greece. He took over the moribund Athletic Bilbao and won the Basque clubs first trophy in over 30 years, leading them back into European competitions.

If nothing else, Chelsea are a high priced reclamation project. If the board see the club that way, Valverde’s a chance to take over.

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