Frank Lampard already has experience of taking charge of Chelsea against one the managers who shaped his playing career at the club, and tomorrow he will do so again.
The current Chelsea boss has enjoyed success versus Jose Mourinho this season and now he goes head to head with the one other manager who helped him win the Premier League title, Carlo Ancelotti.
For a time this week it looked in doubt that Ancelotti would be able to take his place in the opposition dugout at the Bridge following his dismissal at the end of Everton’s most recent game. He disputed a VAR decision with the match officials but will not serve a touchline ban having accepted the charge and only been fined.
‘It was not the most vicious of red cards, was it?’ said Lampard as he considered his reacquaintance with the Italian this weekend. ‘I was surprised the sending-off came. Now [as a manager] I understand the emotions that are involved and I think that is probably as heated as he goes.
‘He has taken his fine and moved on and I am pleased he is on the touchline. I want to see him and go up against him.’
As Lampard eluded to, Ancelotti’s generally even temperament is one of the well-known characteristics of his management style, but there are other strengths according to the former player who grew to know him well between 2009 and 2011 when they worked together at Chelsea.
‘Carlo was a great man-manager,’ Lampard highlighted. ‘On a personal level he was great at striking up a relationship with the players to try to get the best out them. He was very good tactically with a really calm manner at the right time, never too high, never too low, and he was someone I personally enjoyed working with.
‘We had a very successful year in that first year to win the Double and from then, I have kept in touch with him now and again, and have huge respect for him.’
Following the Premier League and FA Cup Double of 2009/10, the next season was trophyless although we did finish second in the league, but Lampard says he was not surprised Ancelotti lost his job after that given the nature of elite-level football across the globe. He recalls the joy of that first, more successful season when we set the club record of 103 goals in a league season which at the time was also a Premier League best. Lampard netted 22 of those.
‘We scored a lot, particularly in the run-in,’ he recalls.
‘We were fluid, we changed formation. Particularly we had a moment of change when we started with a diamond and we moved to 4-3-3 and he was finding the right formation for the players we had.
‘I understand that, now I am a manager as well, it sometimes takes a bit of time, but he gave a relative freedom to the players in terms of how we attacked. I certainly remember that but also how tactically savvy he was, he had already won the Champions League before coming here. He was a top-class manager on all levels.
‘For the group he was never too high and never too low and to see some consistency in a manager is a great thing. You didn’t have those mood swings that maybe I have now but you try to keep the lid on them. That was good for the group.
‘Individually there was a good word in your ear at the right time. In a good moment I remember him boosting me and in a bad moment I remember him giving me words of encouragement. That was his method of working, to encourage, to give you targets, and I always found that enjoyable to work with.’
Lampard fully anticipates the current Everton boss will receive a welcome from the Stamford Bridge crowd tomorrow on his first return in charge of an opposition side.
‘Carlo was very well-respected in-house and by the fans who I think all respect his period at the club.
‘He is a gentleman, a fantastic manager. I loved working with him personally and I think he will get a great reception.’
The 2009/10 Double winning season is one of those featured in The Premier League Years boxset, exclusive to The 5th Stand