Sarah O'Dwyer: Being Frank on returning

Sarah O'Dwyer: Being Frank on returning

Frank Lampard.

IT’S like a break-up, once it’s over you’re not supposed to look back.

Once a team manager leaves their role, they don’t come back. Whether that’s because they left of their own accord and now feel they can’t return, or were pushed out and don’t want to, most leave for greener pastures or with their tail between their legs — like I said, similar to a break-up.

Frank Lampard has gone against the grain, as last week he was reinstated for a second stint and Chelsea boss. He had previously been sacked from the role, and he has replaced— on a caretaker basis — Graham Potter, who was also sacked.

The 44-year-old previously managed at Stamford Bridge from July 2019 until January 2021.

In a statement, co-controlling owners of Chelsea Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali said: “We are delighted to welcome Frank back to Stamford Bridge. Frank is a Premier League Hall of Famer and a legend at this club.

“As we continue our thorough and exhaustive process for a permanent head coach, we want to provide the club and our fans with a clear and stable plan for the remainder of the season.

We want to give ourselves every chance of success and Frank has all of the characteristics and qualities we need to drive us to the finish line.” Lampard obviously didn’t have those “characteristics and qualities” needed by the previous owners in 2021.

Whether his return as a ‘boomerang manager’ will pay off remains to be seen. But, he’s not the first Chelsea manager to be in this position.

Jose Mourinho was in charge of Chelsea from 2004-2007 and again from 2013-2015. In Mourinho’s instance though, returning might not really have been the best option. He did guide the blues to a Premier League title with three games to spare in 2015, and he signed another four-year contract. All very positive.

However, in December of the same year, following a loss in the majority of the games they had played so far in the season, Chelsea said they parted ways with Mourinho.

He had spoken out against players, the club had spoken out against him. It was all rather sour.

Boomerang managers are not just a phenomenon in soccer circles. There are also plenty in the GAA.

Some have had positive outcomes, some not so much, and the jury is still out on others.

Looking at GAA there are quite a few examples — Liam Sheedy for instance. His first stint in charge of Tipperary began in 2007, and he took charge for three seasons, stepping down in October 2010 citing work commitments.

Considering he had just led the premier county to an All-Ireland title, it came as quite the shock.

Sheedy returned as manager in 2018. Much of the talk at the time questioned if he had come back to win an All-Ireland. Turns out, he had. In the first year of his second stint in charge — 2019, Tipperary won the All Ireland again. However, in the following two seasons Tipp couldn’t push past the All Ireland quarter final stages.

A mixed bag, but after six years in charge in total, he delivered two All-Irelands. Not a bad turnaround.

Another GAA manager who has left and returned to the fold is Kieran Kingston in Cork.

His initial term ran for two seasons between 2015 and 2017.

He guided Cork to a Munster title in his second year in charge and then stepped down at the end of the season, declining a further two year term.

But, two years later he was back.

He was ratified as manager in late 2019 and guided Cork to the 2021 All Ireland final, however, they couldn’t get over the line on that occasion. Following that game, Kingston stepped down for the second time.

Within the GAA, I’m intrigued to see how one particular boomerang manager gets on this season.

The jury is definitely still out this year on Davy Fitzgerald’s return to Waterford where he spent four years in charge previously.

Was it worth going back? Watch this space.

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