Lampard signs: The Special One Cometh?
Could Chelsea's U-turn over Frank Lampard's contract be evidence the club is ready to welcome back someone even more Special to Stamford Bridge?
May 17th, 2013
The one-year extension granted to the club’s leading all-time goalscorer was something that looked impossible only a short while ago.
The parties were entrenched, with senior Chelsea sources adamant until relatively recently that the end of the season would be the time for both to move on.
The game at Aston Villa does seem to have been a turning point: Lampard’s goals surpassing Bobby Tambling’s record.
But crucially, those goals also secured admission to the Champions League: something Chelsea’s top brass see as being worth far more than the mere £30m so often quoted in the media.
Beyond just a ‘thanks Frank’, the new deal recognises that when he gets the opportunity to play Lampard is still a real midfield powerhouse capable of winning games.
But, and here’s the most significant thing, it gives a nod towards the fans who have called for this all season.
There is, it seems, finally a realisation settling-in that Chelsea’s supporters will not just take unpopular decisions.
After disastrous misjudgements about the future of Chelsea Pitch Owners and the appointment of Rafael Benitez, both involving a highly held belief that a little opposition would soon go away, the club has taken on-board the importance of winning-over hearts and minds.
Perhaps it has finally clicked that opposition from the stands requires a slightly different approach to worker unrest in a Siberian aluminium smelting plant.
Which brings us on to Jose Mourinho.
There has never been any question as to whether The Special One would be welcome back at Stamford Bridge. He and Abramovich have long supported a relationship which is understood to be far stronger than that of an employer and ex-employee.
The questions have always been about timing, personnel, egos, necessity. For it to happen, both sides have needed to agree on the answer to a key question: “Who runs Chelsea Football Club?”
Until recently, there appeared to be an insurmountable distance between them on just that point.
After Benitez, Chelsea need their next boss to be a popular choice – none would be more popular than Mourinho.
And after Real Madrid, Mournho needs his next job to be one where he is given a warm welcome, respect, and an understanding of how he operates – the pieces of the jigsaw seem to fit.
Whatever has been written, the deal is not cut and dried. Contracts have not been signed: they cannot be while Mourinho still has his Real deal.
There are still other players here: notably Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City (each, again, being strongly linked with other men).
If it comes about, this marriage is unlikely to be for keeps: we all know both suitors have a wandering eye, and that their serial monogamy tends to go in two year cycles.
And there could yet be squabbles over just who gets a seat at the top table for the reception.
But with U-turns the order of the day, could the driver of this particular wedding limousine again be set to pull up the handbrake and spin into the opposite direction?