Divorced, beheaded, survived.
And 18 months on from being appointed as the 12th of Abramovich’s bosses in west London, Frank Lampard is the latest to feel the wrath of the Russian billionaire.
While there were green shoots of a successful managerial career on show as Lampard guided a young Chelsea squad through their transfer ban last season, the Chelsea legend has been unable to show that he possesses the ability to manage the now star-studded squad at his disposal.
Although they did beat Luton in the FA Cup at the weekend, Chelsea’s Premier League defeat at Leicester last week left the Blues down in ninth in the table, and Abramovich doesn’t often stand for things like that.
Why? Well because the Blues owner has a history of falling out with the men who manage his most famous business interest.
Here’s a rundown of what happened to his 12 different Blues bosses (excluding caretakers) since he arrived in England in 2003, two of whom did the job twice.
Were they divorced? Beheaded? Or did they survive to unbroken from their experience?
Claudio Ranieri (2003-04) – Beheaded
The genial Italian was given a year’s grace as Abramovich got used to life in English football, and he rewarded his new boss with a second place finish and by reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League.
He knew he wasn’t long for Abramovich’s world though, and with the Russian sensing that a new boss was needed, a dignified Ranieri bade farewell to the Blues at the end of the campaign.
Jose Mourinho (2004-07) – Divorced
Whatever the fairness of the Ranieri dismissal, you can’t argue with the results that his successor got.
Jose Mourinho came bounding into Stamford Bridge and started a revolution with his expensively assembled squad, winning two Premier League titles and coming second while clinching the FA and League Cups in 2006/07.
It looked like the Blues could never be stopped, then rows over transfers and a slowish start to 2007/08 led to the Portuguese leaving by “mutual consent” in September 2007.
It was probably more mutual distrust.
Avram Grant (2007-08) – Beheaded
Stepping into Mourinho’s shoes for the remainder of the season was Avram Grant, who was previously director of football.
The Israeli oversaw a strong season that ended with the Blues being just a John Terry penalty kick away from being European champions.
Grant didn’t quite fit the profile for a Chelsea boss though, and despite being a close friend of Abramovich the axe fell in the summer of 2008, although he did turn down the chance to return to his old role.
Luiz Felipe Scolari (2008-09) – Beheaded
The Brazilian World Cup winner got off to a lightning start at the Bridge, winning 10 of his first 13 Premier League games and losing only one at home to Liverpool.
By the time the Blues lost to the Reds again in early February 2009 though, they’d won just four in 11 in the league, and with Champions League progress eyed, the axe fell after just seven months in the job following a goalless draw with Hull in the very next game.
Guus Hiddink (2009) – Survived
Ray Wilkins got one game as caretaker, but Abramovich felt that the club needed the greater managerial experience of Guus Hiddink to enter what was hardly a crisis situation until the end of the season.
He won 11 of his 13 Premier League games and captured the FA Cup by beating Everton in the final, before riding off into the sunset.
He’d return one day.
Carlo Ancelotti (2009-11) – Beheaded
A bigger name was sought though, and after Carlo Ancelotti ended his eight-year, double-Champions League-winning spell at Milan, the Italian was tempted to Stamford Bridge.
Despite no stellar signings that summer, Ancelotti’s fantastic side ended up winning the league and cup double, scoring 103 times on the way to winning the Premier League.
Manchester United were to bounce back the following season though, and after early exits in both domestic cups, a Champions League quarter-final failure and a second place league finish, Ancelotti was sacked in the Goodison Park tunnel after the final game of the season.
Andre Villas-Boas (2011-12) – Beheaded
Having taken a dislike of the tried and tested, there was a leap into to the brave new world of Mourinho-alike AVB in the summer of 2011 as Abramovich sought to move on with someone who reminded him of his ex.
It didn’t work.
Villas-Boas lost 10 of his 40 matches in charge and was dismissed in March 2012 when Champions League progress looked beyond them.
Roberto Di Matteo (2012) – Beheaded
Despite his limited managerial experience, AVB’s assistant Roberto Di Matteo took over in March 2012. And then chaos ensued.
Di Matteo won the FA Cup when Liverpool were beaten in the final, and then Chelsea astonishingly captured the first European Cup/Champions League in their history when they beat Bayern Munich in their own back yard.
Although surely wanting a bigger name, Abramovich really had no choice but to give Di Matteo a permanent contract that summer after those successes. But they didn’t last.
He was dismissed in the November following a Champions League group stage exit, although he was at least given a generous payoff.
Rafael Benitez (2012-13) – Survived, just
Rafael Benitez was then brought in until the end of the season, and until the end of the season is how long he stayed. Just about.
Despite mounting fan protests against a boss disliked because of his time at Liverpool during a period when the rivalry between the clubs was intense, Benitez won the Europa League and got the club back into the Champions League – essentially doing the job Abramovich asked of him.
The Spaniard managed to walk away with his reputation intact, bruised but not beaten.
Jose Mourinho (2013-15) – Beheaded
Seeking to get the fans back onside, Abramovich sanctioned the return of Chelsea’s prodigal son in the summer of 2013, and for a while it looked to be a reconciliation made in heaven.
Mourinho’s Chelsea plodded their way to the 2014/15 title – not in the powerful fashion of 10 years previously – but then the wheels came tumbling off the following season.
The Blues calamitously lost nine of their first 16 Premier League games of the season to flirt with the relegation zone, and with Mourinho accusing his players of betrayal after a 2-1 defeat to eventual champions Leicester, there was only one way this was going.
Off with his head.
Guus Hiddink (2015-16) – Survived
With a squad divided and mutiny abound, it was time for Abramovich to break cuddly Uncle Guus out of retirement again.
Using the revolutionary tactic of Not Being Jose Mourinho, Hiddink over saw a Blues outfit that went on a 15-game unbeaten run in the Premier League to consolidate themselves in mid-table, and off he popped again.
Antonio Conte (2016-18) – Beheaded
Enter Antonio Conte, a rocky beginning and then a love affair with a three-man defensive system that led the Blues to the Premier League title by a comfortable distance.
He looked as though he could do no wrong, until – with Manchester City redefining how to win the league in 2017/18 – an awful run of just two 90 minute victories in 10 games at the start of 2018.
He never properly recovered, and a Champions League exit to Barcelona amid mounting distrust from his squad meant that it was all over, albeit after an odd return to take the first couple of days of pre-season training.
Maurizio Sarri (2018-19) – Beheaded
Enter Maurizio Sarri and “Sarri-ball”, the term given to the high-energy, high octane style perfected by the Italian’s entertaining Napoli teams.
The trouble with terms like that though is that they can quickly begin to turn against you when results aren’t good, and that coupled with Sarri’s cigarette-smoking, rather gruff persona has created an odd atmosphere which completely turned toward the end of what proved to be his only season at the club.
He did guide the Blues to Europa League success when they saw off Arsenal in the Europa League final, but the writing was already on the wall and he was ushered out of the door as a fairly unpopular figure.
Frank Lampard (2019-21) – Beheaded
For a while it looked as though this was a brave new world for Abramovich’s Chelsea, and one that everyone was getting behind.
There’s no doubt that the appointment of Lampard – who had one season of managerial experience at Derby – served to lower both the expectations and the pressure on the Blues hotseat, although that was probably a wise decision given the implementation of a transfer ban.
They had ups and downs but Lampard’s Chelsea also reached the FA Cup final last season as he blooded young players in a manner that the Blues hadn’t done for years, but once Chelsea switched back to type the pressure ramped up.
A huge summer outlay on the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz meant that the focus was on the club legend, but the underperformance of some of those summer signings and poor results have led to his sacking with the Blues down in ninth place.
Were Chelsea right to sack Lampard? Have your say in the comments below
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