People stepping out of Fulham Broadway station this afternoon were greeted by the sight of an opportunistic salesman attempting to flog Frank Lampard adorned Chelsea scarves.
If you still needed reminding, here was a visual representation of why this was no run-of-the-mill managerial appointment. As the club statement phrased it: “Hes home!”
After the generally dour and often awkward reign of Maurizio Sarri, which was defined by an overriding feeling of his relative on-the-pitch success being overshadowed by his very particular and not well-liked methods, here was the beaming face of Chelseas glory years returning to lift the mood.
With a twinkle in his eye and excitement etched across his face, Lampard took to his first moment in front of the cameras like a duck to water. As he sat down to face his first set of questions as Chelsea manager, briefly all of the clubs worries – pesky transfer ban, Eden Hazards departure, the ever-widening gap to Premier League rivals Manchester City and Liverpool – seemed far away. Here was Super Frank to ease those concerns.
Its easy to sneer at the appointment of a man who has just one year of experience as a manager, largely because of who he was in a former career, but Lampard himself is not to blame. He was hardly going to say no.
“Ive had one year at Derby where I think I learned a lot,” he said, before getting to the nub. “Also I know a lot about this club – I feel this club and know how it works.”
Lampard, unquestionably, gets Chelsea. Hes also bringing with him more people who understand it: his coaching staff of Jody Morris, Chris Jones, Joe Edwards and Eddie Newton, like him, all have strong connections.
Chelseas new manager was at pains to stress he wasnt forming an old boys club at Stamford Bridge, but with ex-goalkeeper Petr Cech in the room in his new role as technical and performance advisor and former players Didier Drogba and Claude Makelele rumoured to joining in some capacity, it will be a difficult image to shift.
“Were trying to get people who feel the club,” Lampard explained. “You start again. I dont want credit for my playing career. That lasts five minutes – and I understand it should last five minutes, because I should be judged on what I do here going forward.”
Chelsea will certainly try to ensure it lasts longer than five minutes though. They are a club faced with challenges and under pressure to get it right. Distraction tactics will not be beyond them.
But with pre-season starting in earnest today and a packed tour which visits Ireland, Japan, Austria and Germany taking up the rest of July, the novelty will soon wear off. Its down to business for Lampard, who has inherited a bloated squad packed full of ex-loanees who will fill the training ground like unwanted returned parcels.