ONE landmark victory at Elland Road and all of a sudden the thought of Frank Lampard as Chelsea manager next season is a no-brainer.
But Derby’s spectacular 4-2 triumph over Leeds on Wednesday night changed everything.
In particular seeing Lampard leading the Derby stars’ wild celebrations on the pitch.
That was the moment it became clear Frank is the man to put the heart and soul back into Chelsea.
He out-thought master tactician Marco Bielsa. His team plays with energy and invention.
But above all Lampard gives everything he has got… and clearly loves every minute.
He is a virtual novice but what he lacks in experience, he more than makes up for in enthusiasm and energy.
Lampard is the kind of manager players must love to play under.
Especially the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who were young kids at the club when Lampard the player was in his prime.
Lampard’s football is not a million miles from the passing triangles of Chelsea’s current “Sarri-ball” but with more urgency and purpose.
He has taken the best bits from the likes of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, and made them his own.
Lampard describes his style as: “Good football, fast football, I don’t mean beautiful tiki-taka football…
“But I want there to be an energy in the team, where they play and excite the fans. I want energy, hard work and aggression.”
The timing is also seductively perfect.
The impending transfer ban provides Chelsea with the ideal opportunity to play some of their outstanding young talents.
Lampard has already overseen the impressive development of two Chelsea starlets at Derby in Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori.
With another former Blue Jody Morris at his side, who guided Chelsea’s brilliant academy side for five years, this is the ideal time to blood the youngsters and see if they are actually good enough.
He is clearly intelligent. He knows Chelsea, and the personalities at the club, as well as anyone else.
Mark Fleming on Frank Lampard
And they are the perfect managerial team to do it.
With expectations lowered by the transfer ban, they will surely be given a couple of seasons to get it right.
Of course there is a danger in appointing an inexperienced club legend as manager.
Manchester United are finding that out the hard way, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer having to learn on the job how to motivate today’s superstar players.
But against that is Lampard’s personality.
As a player, he was aware of his limitations, worked harder than everyone else and made the absolute most of his talents.
Plus he is clearly intelligent. And he knows Chelsea, and the personalities at the club, as well as anyone else.
And as he showed after the final whistle at Leeds, he has the passion and enthusiasm to inspire a team to memorable victories.
MORE CHELSEA STORIES
Sarri has had a mixed first season at Chelsea, as his side barely deserve their haul of third place in the Premier League, Carabao Cup runners-up and a place in the Europa League final.
Perhaps another year of Sarri’s coaching will improve the team.
But then again there is a sense they are doing well despite the manager.
Given Chelsea’s transfer ban and the club’s outstanding crop of youngsters, this is the perfect storm that points to Lampard.
And if it doesn’t work out, there’s always his pal John Terry to turn to.