Stamford Bridge is swathed in snow, but that’s not why Po’ Frank Lampard’s a-cold. Po’ Frank’s a-cold because Frank Lampard’s Chelsea have just issued him with Frank Lampard’s P45, Mr Roman’s notorious and oft-operated boot sending him bouncing eastbound along London’s fashionable King’s Rahd in style, his old school tie trailing in the breeze. Seems scraping past 10-man Fulham, eking out a turgid win against second-tier Luton, and having his coaching trousers washed, pressed and handed back to him on a silver platter by Brendan Rodgers wasn’t enough to save his dream job after all. Hey, it’s lucky Brenny gave him back those breeks, huh kids, because Mr Roman has hoofed him down the Rahd with some force and feeling. Imagine the neon chafing that would otherwise have occurred by the time he reached Sloane Square.
As he whistles down the trendy tarmac at breakneck speed, Po’ Frank may take a moment to wonder where it all went wrong. It was barely 50 days ago that his side topped the Premier League, and Jürgen Klopp had anointed them as favourites for the title. That proved to be the Liverpool manager’s worst judgment call of the season by some distance. Not bad going for someone who has seen his new star striker get crocked in a dead rubber, and willingly went into the campaign with only three centre-backs, two of whom were constructed using a compound mixture of talc, tears and hope.
Chelsea’s subsequent meagre haul of seven points from the next 24 on offer saw them plunge into mid-table irrelevance, a sorry state of affairs that inevitably led to Monday’s appointment with Mr Roman’s famously twitchy and well-scuffed sacking shoe. So all Po’ Frank has to keep him warm are the memories: the bittersweet knowledge that he leaves behind a youthful legacy, turned a Bundesliga scoring sensation into a solid four-goal-a-season Premier League stalwart, performed contemporary dance in front of Marcelo Bielsa, ranted self-righteously at someone else’s backroom staff while his side were busy shipping five goals, and enjoyed a better win ratio than Danny Blanchflower, Geoff Hurst and André Villas-Boas. That’s our Frank: manager, leader, legend.
In an ideal world, Po’ Frank’s successor would be Neil Warnock, finally agreeing to take the job that was his in 1991, had he only wanted it. Failing that, popularity’s Rafa Benítez, who has suddenly become available after downing tools in China. But it’s going to be Thomas Tuchel, a wise move given the 47-year-old German’s CV. His Bundesliga experience should help get a tune out of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz; he got Paris Saint-Germain to their first-ever Big Cup final, no mean feat even if they subsequently forgot to turn up for it. Finally, he’s not afraid to tell recalcitrant star players and opinionated billionaire owners exactly what’s what, so much so that all three of his previous gigs have ended in overheated acrimony. This is going to be great. We give it three months.
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Oh Frank! Where did it all go wrong? Big Paper’s Jacob Steinberg has some ideas, so watch his video analysis.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Sam Allardyce is a genius to take teams when everyone believes it is over. It happens once, twice, three times you can’t say it is lucky” – Pep Guardiola gives the Baggies boss a serious ego stroke before his Manchester City rough it up again with an inevitable 5-0 win at the Hawthorns on Tuesday.
Football Weekly will be here any minute now, with the podders reflecting on the FA Cup action until Lampard was axed mid-recording.
“Perhaps the Fiver would consider a new name for the erstwhile Frank Lampard’s Chelsea Manager Frank Lampard: Regular Old Frank Lampard, or ROFL for short” – Simon Riley.
“Has the news that Frank Lampard’s Chelsea Manager Frank Lampard is soon to become Insert Broadcaster Here Pundit Frank Lampard prevented your lead story being about Ole’s Double-winning triumph following their 3-2 hammering of Liverpool?” – Martin Landrygan.
“Never mind Poland having drastic changes in manager names [Friday’s Fiver], in 1994 Wolves replaced Graham Turner with Graham Taylor. A 66% similarity score and also a big cost saving on monogrammed managerial wear” – Phil Russell.
“A strange noise accompanied my reading of Sholem Lenkiewicz’s letter [Friday’s Fiver]. It was the sound of 1,057 jaws simultaneously dropping at the idea of somebody, anybody, respecting The Fiver” – Colum Farrelly.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Four players and the president from the Brazilian club Palmas died in a plane crash on Sunday. The group were travelling separately from the rest of the team after testing positive for coronavirus.
Aston Villa Women have appointed Marcus Bignot as interim manager, with Gemma Davies continuing to lead the WSL side’s coaching team.
Arsenal have won the race to borrow 2015’s Martin Ødegaard from Real Madrid, while Leicester’s Demarai Gray must choose between Monaco, Lisbon and Croydon as his next destination.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær was c0ck-a-hoop with his tricky Manchester United players after the 3-2 FA Cup win over Liverpool. “We’ve found a way of playing that we believe in,” he whooped.
Elsewhere, Bruno Fernandes has given an insight into his winning mentality. “For me, losing is not normal,” purred Fernandes, a sentiment to which The Fiver cannot relate.
Hold off on the unveiling, Roman. Big Phil Scolari is available after ending a brief stint with second-tier Cruzeiro in his native Brazil.
Hut! Hut!! Hut!!! Patrick Bamford may need to brush up on his receiving skills after the San Francisco 49ers increased their stake in Leeds to 37%.
José Mourinho has had to warn golf legend Gareth Bale he must earn playing time by putting in the hard yards. Who saw that coming, eh? “I cannot give players minutes,” sniffed Mou. “The most important thing for him is to be consistent in training.”
And Wayne Rooney’s Derby County players have finally been paid their outstanding wages for December. The Wayne Rooney’s Derby County manager, Wayne Rooney, would also like to sign some new players before next Monday’s transfer deadline.
STILL WANT MORE?
Ten talking points from the weekend’s FA Cup fourth round, including defanged Foxes and Arsenal passengers.
Rachel Brown-Finnis’s WSL talking points are right here.
The title looks to be heading to Bayern Munich again after their title rivals collectively soiled themselves this weekend, writes Andy Brassell.
Josip Ilicic’s brilliance inspired a flurry of goals to put Atalanta in the title picture as they thrashed ‘winter champions’ Milan. Here’s Nicky Bandini.
Sid Lowe on Youssef En Nesyri, the Sevilla striker who is outscoring Messi and co.
Here’s our Ligue Urrrrrrrn aficionados Adam White and Eric Devin on Frédéric Antonetti, who is having the last laugh as Metz rise up le table.
Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!