THE HAYES AND THE LOWS
When Frank Lampard was appointed as Chelsea interim manager for the remainder of the season following Graham Potter’s dismissal in early April, he seemed bullish about his chances of making a success of the job. “I am confident in myself,” he rabble-roused. “I have a good understanding of the squad. I’ll do my utmost in this period coming up to give [the fans] what they want with my own hard work.” And while this introductory press conference would have created quite the palaver had he announced: “I intend to mastermind defeat in our next six games, go on a two-match unbeaten run and then lose another two before our last home game of the season,” it was still quite big talk from a man who was sacked after overseeing just four wins in 23 games this season while in charge of Everton.
The good news for Chelsea fans is that once Sunday’s home defeat at the hands of Newcastle is over, their shambles of a men’s season will end with it. And having not quite done enough to secure himself the gig on a full-time basis (an ambition he coyly insisted he wasn’t considering early in his tenure), Lampard will be sent on his way and replaced with somebody – almost certainly Mauricio Pochettino – who knows what they are doing and might be able to prune and nurture the club’s bloated squad of first-team underachievers into something resembling a vaguely competent football team. One that isn’t so diabolically bad that the club is forced to cancel its own end-of-season awards out of sheer embarrassment.
For the time being, if any of the players responsible for Chelsea’s zombie-esque shuffle towards the end of the season should need reminding of what an elite squad of players playing in the club’s colours looks like, they could do worse than tune into Saturday afternoon’s denouement of the Women’s Super League. Emma Hayes, who has masterminded more Chelsea victories in her past two games in charge than Lampard managed in 10 attempts, brings her side to bottom-of-the-table Reading knowing a win will secure them a fourth consecutive title, while even a draw will be enough as long as Manchester United don’t beat Liverpool by more than five goals.
Should they lift the trophy, Chelsea will complete their third consecutive league and FA Cup double, bringing the number of shiny pots Hayes has won since taking the job 11 years ago to 13. It has not all been plain sailing – earlier this season Hayes had to take six weeks out to deal with personal health issues and as mum to a five-year-old son, Harry, she has recently stressed the importance of a work-life balance. “I’ve had a game every weekend so the pattern has been the same,” she sighed, following last Sunday’s win over Arsenal. “He hasn’t seen me and he’s had to come to work with me when he doesn’t want to come. The only way I got him through this weekend was the promise of ice cream and bike rides. My son is the most important thing in my life and he comes first.” In league standings her team currently comes first too, unlike Lampard’s, whose rabble could finish as low as 14th by stumps on Sunday.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The lack of control the player has in respect of gambling is clearly a reflection of his diagnosed addiction. The present case is not one of match-fixing. If it was, the charges would have been pursued under different provisions. There is no evidence that Mr Toney did or was even in a position to influence his own team to lose when he placed bets against them winning – he was not in the squad or eligible to play at the time” – the FA’s written reasons for its eight-month punishment handed to Brentford’s Ivan Toney are out, and reveal that he repeatedly bet on matches involving his own team and would have received an even heftier ban had he not been diagnosed with a gambling addiction.
FOOTBALL DAILY LETTERS
As a lifelong Leeds fan, why am I hoping Leicester beat the drop and we take Everton down with us? What the hell is wrong with me? Why is football so disgusting?” – Paddy Viner.
Re: yesterday’s Quote of the Day. When he’s not managing here in the Premier League and we don’t have to constantly suffer his incessant moaning about quite literally anything and everything, then José Mourinho is the absolute best and I’m with him all the way in his eternal quest to never forget, never forgive and always take the opportunity to have a swipe at those who have wronged him. ‘Mr Levy’s club’ indeed. Never change José, never change” – Noble Francis.
Re: yesterday’s Football Daily letters, is Martyn Pleasance new around here?” – Kevin Carter (and 1,056 others).
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Paddy Viner.