Frank Lampard’s first experience of Premier League management proved harrowing as Chelsea limped to a 4-0 loss in their season opener at Manchester United.
The fresh-faced Blues boss insisted the scoreline flattered the hosts and found support for his assessment following several promising passages of play.
Yet as a high-profile legend of the competition, curiosity about his coaching qualities will climb until hard evidence is delivered.
Sunday’s clash against Leicester City will be Lampard’s next opportunity to make a point in the Premier League.
With an eye on the past and Opta data on hand, we look at the likelihood of Chelsea performing a quick turnaround.
Sarri’s six-goal loss still the nadir
Chelsea were torn asunder in the second half at Old Trafford as a three-goal, 16-minute burst from United made Lampard’s managerial debut in the top flight a miserable occasion.
Only two Blues bosses have endured equal or heavier defeats in the club’s 27-season Premier League history.
Maurizio Sarri presided over the worst when a Sergio Aguero-inspired Manchester City handed out a 6-0 hammering at the Etihad Stadium in February.
That result intensified the focus on Sarri’s future as it occurred barely a week after a 4-0 loss at the hands of Bournemouth, which led the Italian to ponder whether he was capable of motivating his players.
September 1996 marked the only other time Chelsea have suffered a reverse of that magnitude in the Premier League, a late Frank Leboeuf penalty doing little to soothe the pain of a 5-1 failure against Liverpool under Ruud Gullit.
It was the first defeat of the Dutchman’s coaching career but, as he went on to prove, an early setback is no impediment to success.
Scolari’s strong start no barometer
Gullit had, in fact, started well in the player-coach role at Stamford Bridge, which he accepted following Glenn Hoddle’s departure for the England job.
The former AC Milan midfielder won three of his opening five matches and secured two away draws to lay a solid foundation for a season that ended in FA Cup glory.
Of course, not every competent beginning can be viewed as a catalyst for trophies.
Luiz Felipe Scolari oversaw three wins, two draws and a fine tally of 10 goals scored, yet the World Cup winner was out of the job by February.
Sarri and compatriot Carlo Ancelotti boast the best starts among Blues bosses in the Premier League, each attaining a perfect 15 points from their first five fixtures.
Stamford Bridge a setting for success
Of real comfort to Lampard will be the opportunity to get back to London following the long midweek journey to Istanbul for the UEFA Super Cup.
Chelsea’s greatest ever goalscorer is adored at Stamford Bridge and the ground has generally brought good fortune for new leaders.
Glenn Hoddle, Gianluca Vialli and the dual management team of Ray Wilkins and Graham Rix are the only bosses to have been beaten in their maiden Premier League home matches.
Three – Ian Porterfield, Avram Grant and Rafael Benitez – recorded draws, while 12 celebrated victories.
Lampard will hope to join the ranks of the latter group; perhaps Chelsea will even seek to cleanse the palate with a 4-0 win, the result Scolari achieved against Portsmouth back in August 2008.
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