Frank Lampard's appointment as Chelsea head coach was widely heralded by the club's fanbase, who were desperate for a returning hero to succeed in the dugout.

Just 18 months later and Lampard – the club's record all-time leading goalscorer who won 11 major honours at Stamford Bridge – has been sacked.

The Blues have proven in the past there is little time for sentimentality or to dwell on past successes and not even a player with the stature Lampard holds at the club has been granted extra time.

Lampard's first season in charge brought a top-four finish and an FA Cup final but a run of just two wins in eight league matches saw Chelsea wield the axe with the team ninth and 11 points off top.

A huge close-season recruitment drive that saw the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell arrive perhaps gave the Blues hierarchy itchy feet and brought about the end for Lampard.

With that in mind, we have looked at some hits and misses when players have returned to a club as boss.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping down in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint, though a slump this term has left his long-term future shrouded in doubt.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Conte is now battling to end the Bianconeri's domestic dominance as head coach of Inter.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try to save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a relegation play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

JURY'S OUT

Mikel Arteta

Arteta served Arsenal with distinction as a player between 2011 and 2016, captaining the club and winning the FA Cup twice. Success in football's oldest cup competition followed last term, with Arteta having replaced Unai Emery in December 2019. After finishing eighth, Arsenal defeated Liverpool on penalties to win the Community Shield but eight defeats from 19 league games in this campaign have left Arsenal 11th and 13 points off top spot.

Andrea Pirlo

Lampard's opportunity at Chelsea arrived when Maurizio Sarri departed for Juventus, but his stint in charge at the Bianconeri lasted just one season despite winning the Serie A title. Pirlo won four Scudetti, the Supercoppa Italiana twice and the Coppa Italia during a four-year stint as a player in Turin and was appointed head coach just a week after being installed as Under-23 boss. So far it has been a mixed bag in Juve's hunt for a 10th straight title, with six draws and two defeats in 18 matches leaving them seven points back of league leaders Milan – albeit they do have a game in hand. Pirlo also collected a first trophy courtesy of victory over Napoli in the Supercoppa Italiana last week.

Memphis Depay can help Barcelona build for the future if he teams up again with Ronald Koeman in LaLiga, according to Clarence Seedorf. 

Depay has long been linked with a move to Barca and is in the final year of his contract with current employers Lyon, who will either have to cash in during January or risk losing one of their prized assets for nothing at the end of the season. 

A move in the previous transfer window was rumoured, particularly after Koeman – who worked with the forward at international level during his time in charge of the Netherlands – was appointed as the new head coach at the Spanish giants. 

While a move to Manchester United earlier in his career failed to work out, with Depay scoring just two goals in 33 Premier League appearances during his 18-month stint at Old Trafford, Seedorf believes his compatriot is now primed for success at one of Europe's major clubs. 

The 26-year-old certainly excelled in the Champions League during the 2019-20 season, scoring six goals to help surprise package Lyon upset both Juventus and Manchester City as they reached the last four. 

"I think Memphis Depay is one of the major talents in Europe at this moment," Seedorf – who made 87 appearances for the Netherlands – told Stats Perform News in an exclusive interview.

"He had a serious injury, but he is a player that have to be at a big club sooner or later. 

"If it is meant to be Barcelona, it will be better for them. Koeman and him worked very well together [in the past].  

"Sincerely, Koeman has done a great job with the national team, and especially with players like Memphis Depay, giving them the necessary trust to come out and show their talent. 

"I am convinced that any big club that signs him will be delighted with his talent." 

Depay discussed his future during the November international break, admitting "everyone would like to play" at a club like Barca. 

"Who wouldn't like to go to Barcelona? It's a top club," he said after captaining the Netherlands in their recent 1-1 draw with Spain. 

"We'll see what the future holds for me. Barca is one of the biggest clubs and everyone would like to play there, but I'm focused on my club and the national team." 

However, his possible arrival at Barca could be part of a major squad rebuild, with Lionel Messi's future remaining uncertain beyond the current campaign. 

Seedorf, though, feels Depay would provide a solid building block during a period of change at Camp Nou.

"Barcelona is in a transition moment, and whenever they can bring in players like Memphis, they will be getting ready for the future," the former Real Madrid, Inter and Milan midfielder said.

Liverpool and the Netherlands will find it impossible to replace Virgil van Dijk during his injury absence, but that does not mean either must be less competitive, according to Oranje great Clarence Seedorf.

Van Dijk suffered knee ligament damage in last month's Merseyside derby, sustaining the injury as a result of a forceful challenge from Jordan Pickford.

The Dutchman could ultimately miss the rest of the club season and even next year's delayed Euro 2020.

His absence will be most felt by the Reds given how influential he has been since making a big-money move from Southampton – he was particularly colossal last season as Liverpool ended a 30-year wait for a top-flight crown.

Van Dijk attempted more passes (3,255) than any other defender in the Premier League, while only two other defenders with more than 1,500 had a better completion rate than him (89.2 per cent).

On top of that, Trent Alexander-Arnold (3,664) was the sole defender to have more touches of the ball than Van Dijk (3,624), his 239 duels won were the joint-fifth-best among rearguard players and his 191 aerial wins was bettered by only James Tarkowski (199).

Liverpool's situation has not been helped by further injuries to other members of their defence this term and Seedorf accepts that Van Dijk is irreplaceable even in the best of circumstances, but he does not think the centre-back's competitive attitude is unattainable.

Seedorf told Stats Perform News: "I was sad for him that it happened but also, knowing him and his character, when bad things happened, you are sad for a few days then you need to look forward and start fighting your way back.

"That's what he's doing and that's what he did in the first couple of days with statements he made.

"We wish him the best recovery possible so he can get back on the pitch and continue showing his talent and leadership.

"It's the coach's problem to solve it. I don't have the insight to show how they can solve it. Liverpool, especially, have good players.

"You cannot substitute Van Dijk but you can maintain competitiveness. They have a lot of players who are at a good level, which is the same for the Dutch national team."

Clarence Seedorf does not believe Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek should not be written off yet as they struggle to make impacts at Inter and Manchester United respectively. 

Like Seedorf, both players came through the heralded Ajax academy before making switches to the Premier League. 

Eriksen enjoyed six-and-a-half successful years at Tottenham before joining Inter in January, while Van de Beek signed for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side ahead of the 2020-21 campaign. 

Having found himself on the periphery of the team during his latter days at Spurs, Denmark international Eriksen was lacking momentum upon joining Inter and made only eight Serie A starts before the end of the 2019-20 season.

It has not gone much better for him this term, the 28-year-old making just three starts and failing to score or assist for Antonio Conte's side. 

His days appear to be numbered at San Siro, with Conte stating Eriksen has had enough chances to impress and the club's CEO Giuseppe Marotta saying he will not keep players who want to be sold.

Seedorf, though, believes Eriksen's quality will ultimately shine through if the club is patient with him.

"Eriksen has been a well established, top player for years," the former Inter, Real Madrid and Milan star told Stats Perform News. "He may go through a moment where he's not having the same performance we're used to but he should not leave. He will be playing sooner or later. 

"Adapting to a new country and club is not easy. There are many examples of top players that go from one club to another and couldn't find themselves. We need to give him some time for the club to embrace him fully."

Van de Beek, meanwhile, has struggled for game time since arriving at Old Trafford in a £40million move from Ajax.

The Netherlands international has yet to start a Premier League game, making six appearances from the substitutes' bench, although he impressed in United's 4-1 Champions League win over Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday.

Van de Beek made two key passes, completed 33 passes in the opposition half – second only to Fred – and boasted an 87.5 per cent passing accuracy in that game. 

Seedorf is not concerned about Van de Beek's situation, however, and believes United have bought him for the long term. 

"He just arrived and needs to go through the same process and struggle [as Eriksen] to adapt to all the things on and off the pitch," he added. 

"I'm sure with his character he will find his way through. I don't think Manchester United bought him for immediate success. They have always brought in younger players to make sure in two or three years they will be one of the main players. 

"Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I wish him all the best, obviously."

Juventus' elimination from the Champions League spelled the end for Maurizio Sarri and the start of a new era under Andrea Pirlo.

Despite leading the Bianconeri to a ninth straight Scudetto in 2019-20, Sarri was fired after Juve crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Lyon on Friday.

Pirlo was at the heart of Juve's brilliant midfield during the start of their Serie A dominance, winning four Scudetti, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana twice during a four-year stint that ended when he moved to New York City in 2015.

A week after returning to Juve as their Under-23 boss, Pirlo was handed the reins of the first team ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

He is not the first club legend to go back and manage a team they played for, though, and we have taken a look at the biggest successes and failures.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Pirlo will have to get the better of his former coach Conte, now at Inter, if he is to maintain the Bianconeri's run of titles.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

Real Madrid are facing a tough challenge to overturn their Champions League deficit to Manchester City, football legend Clarence Seedorf says.

Zinedine Zidane's side head to the Etihad Stadium for Friday's last-16 second leg trailing 2-1 from the reverse fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid are unbeaten since returning from the coronavirus-enforced break and such form allowed them to overhaul Barcelona to win the LaLiga title.

City, by contrast, finished 18 points behind runaway champions Liverpool in the Premier League and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Arsenal.

Seedorf, a European champion with Ajax, Madrid and AC Milan - twice with the Rossoneri - expects City to be keen to prove a point after an "average" domestic season.

"I think when Zidane came [back], he got that chemistry back in place and after corona, I think Madrid came out solid, when Barcelona came out a bit segregated," he told Stats Perform News.

"Obviously, when the club with players like [Sergio] Ramos and [Karim] Benzema smell the opportunity against that rival then that creates a motivation that they used and brought it home.

"Ramos and Benzema have been key, key players but, as I said, the whole team has shown a pretty solid shape.

"If you look at them without the results they have now, they are considered definitely [among] the favourites, Manchester City as well - these are two top teams in the world.

"It's going to be tough to go there and turn it around, but nothing is impossible in that sense. But also, Manchester City need to make up for the average season, if you can call it that.

"They can do it, but it's tough."

Barcelona, meanwhile, will need to improve their performance to overcome Napoli and reach the quarter-finals, after a 1-1 draw in Italy.

Much is expected of midfielder Frenkie de Jong, a €75million signing from Ajax last year who has yet to find his feet fully in Spain.

"He's a great player, a great talent and we hope to see much more from him over the coming years," said Seedorf.

"It's not easy to come to a new country and new club and perform. Barcelona... it's a privilege to come to a team that knows themselves so well, and you come into the same type of system.

"Frenkie will become better and better hopefully over the next years and we can enjoy his talent on the international pitches."

Similarly, Seedorf thinks new Chelsea signing Hakim Ziyech could find it tough to adapt to life in a new league - although he believes head coach Frank Lampard is the right man to help.

"Lampard has shown to have had a good, positive impact on the team and young players," Seedorf said. "Ziyech is a talent that will face challenges, because this is not the Ajax style of play, the Dutch style of play, and that's going to be his biggest challenge, I think: to adapt to a new style of play and everything that comes with it.

"But he has a proper mentor in place to guide him to the Premier League style and competitiveness that is needed. I think the ingredients are there for him to continue to spread his talent on the pitch and show that this next level was the right thing to do."

One story is dominating the sporting agenda in Spain on Saturday: Xavi's potential return to Barcelona.

The Catalan giants have reportedly earmarked the club great to take over from the under-pressure Ernesto Valverde at the end of the season, and held informal discussions with him on Friday in Doha.

Xavi, 39, is currently coach at Al Sadd but would likely relish a return to Camp Nou, where he won eight LaLiga titles and four Champions League trophies during a glittering playing career.

A strong affinity with a club is not a guarantee of success, however, and we have taken a look at eight other examples of players returning to manage teams they starred for.

 

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job. He is now back in Serie A and thriving with the Old Lady's bitter rivals Inter.

Roberto Di Matteo

Like Lampard, Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for AC Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league finish in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

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