How unlucky can a manager be? Frank Lampard’s debut in the dugout at Old Trafford was cruel… and undeserved.
Officially, it was a 4-0 thrashing by Manchester United. Yet for large stretches of the game, Chelsea were the livelier, nippier side, striking the woodwork several times.
How will Stamford Bridge’s favourite midfielder of the modern era bounce back?
There’s no time to spare; the Blues have the irritating commitment of the Super Cup in Istanbul against Liverpool in midweek (almost certainly a win for the Reds), before hosting Leicester City in the first home game of the season on Sunday.
The crowd will be nervous, to say the least. They desperately want Lampard to succeed, but it remains a massive and emotion-driven gamble by the club to appoint someone with so little experience of management (even if he’s adored in SW6) to the key post at Chelsea.
To his credit, Lampard trusted youngsters in his squad with the task of defeating United. And for the first quarter of an hour it looked very rosy indeed.
Then Kurt Zouma – surely not a long-term replacement for the new Gooner David Luiz – gave away a pen, and the collapse began.
Wayward passes, needless interceptions… when Lamps and his sidekick Jody Morris sit down to analyse the game, there will be plenty of reasons to explain away this horrible opening-day defeat. The infuriating thing was that, with a couple of glittering exceptions – notably Marcus Rashford – United were nowhere near worthy of this result.
Will the Blues start ‘thrilling’ again at the Bridge? It is already looking like a long, painful season for the young manager. A win, however, will change everything.