It was all going so well, not so long ago. Just think back to, say, late 2019. Steven Gerrard was driving Rangers toward his (and their) second straight second-place finish in Scotland. It might not seem like much, but they hadn't been that high in the SPL table since 2012, when financial mismanagement led to the club being liquidated and plunged down into the country's third division. Then, in Gerrard's third season with the club, they won the league title for the first time since 2011.
It was a similar story for Frank Lampard at Chelsea in 2019-20. They finished in fourth, which, woo hoo! But this was supposed to be a step-back season. After various violations with how Chelsea acquired academy players, FIFA gave the club a two-window transfer ban. And after seeing his one semi-successful season at Derby County in the English Championship, Chelsea gave the newly unappealing job to Lampard.
At the time, it seemed as though they were using Lampard as something of a shield. They'd just sent their most important player, Eden Hazard, to Real Madrid and would not be able to reinvest the returns. They'd recalled a bunch of loanees but weren't reloading like they normally would. Perhaps the fans wouldn't be as furious with a subpar season with their beloved Lampard on the bench. Instead, Lampard led a young, fun and exciting Chelsea squad to a fourth-place finish and a tie for the third-most points with Manchester United.
Both superstars-turned-managers were on upward trajectories, perhaps beneficiaries of the diverse managerial brainpower that came into the league right around the time when both of their playing careers started to take off. Or not.
Just a couple of years later, they're both unemployed. Lampard looks like one of the worst managers the Premier League has ever seen, while Gerrard, once a theoretical future Liverpool manager, now appears to be the only thing able to stand between Aston Villa and a top-four finish. What happened? And what can they tell us about how management works?