With Chelsea’s appointment of Frank Lampard confirmed today, it reminds us very much of last summer and the comparison between the Chelsea legend’s appointment at Derby with Steven Gerrard’s at Ibrox.
Lampard’s gained modest media coverage, while Steven Gerrard’s was the biggest football talking point in the global sport for some time. Lampard had taken a Championship side, and a gentle first step into management without it being a complete stroll, while Gerrard took a British institution as his first gig and leapt right into the deep end without a lifejacket.
The hype over Gerrard’s first job compared with the more considered approach towards covering Lampard’s was a very interesting contrast, given the parables of the playing careers of both players.
With Lampard today now taking a colossal step up and going from Derby to Chelsea, who has it tougher? Who has taken the bigger risk/step?
Is it Lampard, going from the success of his Derby season where he nearly got his men promoted to the Premier League at the first time of asking to the gauntlet of Champions League-bound Chelsea but who can’t sign anyone for some considerably time due to the transfer ban placed on them, or Gerrard, who did solidly at Ibrox last campaign but has massive expectation on his shoulder to win the league and halt Celtic’s march towards 9IAR?
Lampard is NOT expected to win the league – he’s not even expected to challenge for it. Chelsea fans know their club is in a bit of a quandary right now – they’ve lost arguably their best player, and cannot use the funds to replace him. They have to rely on the youth ranks instead, and while they can still sell players, they can’t recruit.
Meaning their new coach, high though his stock is, already has his hands tied, reducing expectations.
Gerrard, however, has signed almost 10 new players and truly is expected to have a real fist at the title next season. Like Lampard he will have European football, albeit at a lower level, but while expectations are always high at Stamford Bridge, this time it’s tempered with more realism than normal with no title aspirations and no new players, plus a coach who is a rookie at this level.
The truth? The pressure is greater on Gerrard, and he is the one who has taken on the challenge of wresting the title from Celtic – he is expected to do it.
It really is telling that even now, we can see a bit of a difference between the Lampard to Chelsea and Gerrard to Rangers coverage. Lampard was widely expected to make the move, and the hype over his return to his team isn’t really that huge. Fans are generally warm towards him and his legend, but perhaps they have low expectations of what he can do this season. Meanwhile, Gerrard as a rookie boss going straight to the cauldron of Ibrox really did grip the football world in the way we used to expect when we signed the likes of Gascoigne back in the day.
It’s a silly question to ask which club is bigger – both Chelsea and Rangers are monstrously large institutions, and both expect great things.
But Gerrard definitely has the bigger challenge, given what is demanded of him this season, and it applied last season too.
Maybe though we can see a little friendly lined up…?