Chelsea's mid-season manager changes often work out well in Europe

Di Matteo and Tuchel both masterminded Champions League triumphs, Hiddink was seconds from a final and even Benitez won the Europa League! Chelsea’s mid-season manager changes often work out well in Europe, so will the stars align for Lampard?

  • Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are preparing to take on Real Madrid in Europe
  • Interim boss may take some comfort from successes of previous stand-ins
  • MailOnline provides all the latest Chelsea news in our designated live blog

European assignments don’t come much more daunting, especially when you’ve only been back in the job a few days.

But Frank Lampard takes his Chelsea side to the Bernabeu to play defending champions Real Madrid on Wednesday night encouraged by past events.

Chelsea managers who’ve come into the club mid-season – or on an interim basis like him – have masterminded a significant chunk of their European successes.

Certainly when Roman Abramovich was owner, the gamble of a sacking halfway through the campaign often had the desired effect and silverware swiftly followed.

Ahead of the Champions League quarter-final, Lampard will only hope and pray the stars align for him in a similar manner to his predecessors below.

Chelsea interim manager Frank Lampard is all smiles on the training ground as his team prepare to take on Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals 

Real are the reigning champions and represent a formidable proposition for Chelsea 


This was a typically chaotic Chelsea season with summer arrival Luiz Felipe Scolari starting off well before quickly feeling the strain of the job.

The man who’d guided his native Brazil to the World Cup in 2002 was sacked in February 2009 with the club sitting fourth in the Premier League table.

Abramovich turned to well-liked Dutchman Hiddink, who was coach of the Russian national team at the time and continued in both jobs.

Chelsea’s form was immediately revived and they’d eventually finish third in the league and beat Everton in the FA Cup final.

Hiddink also took them to the semi-finals of the Champions League, where they were mere seconds away from reaching a second consecutive final against Manchester United only for disaster to strike.

They overcame Juventus in the last-16, winning 1-0 at Stamford Bridge thanks to Didier Drogba’s early goal before drawing 2-2 in a stormy second leg in Turin.

Michael Essien, making his first start since suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage in September, scored a crucial away goal and Drogba made sure of their progress late on.

The quarter-final with Liverpool was just one of many classics of the genre from around that time.

Pep Guardiola (left) and Guus Hiddink on the touchline as Barcelona and Chelsea met in the 2009 Champions League semi-finals 

It all ended in heartbreak for Chelsea after Andres Iniesta scored a last-gasp goal 

Chelsea looked to be in command of the tie with a 3-1 first leg win at Anfield, thanks to two Branislav Ivanovic headers and yet another from the resurgent Drogba.

But Liverpool erased that deficit within the first 30 minutes of the return at Stamford Bridge. Drogba, Alex and Frank Lampard scored after half-time but there was still a nervy finale as Liverpool scored twice in quick succession.

It required an 89th-minute goal from Lampard, making the score 4-4 on the night and 7-5 on aggregate, to settle jangling nerves.

That set up a semi-final with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, one of Europe’s toughest propositions at the time.

Chelsea defended superbly in the Nou Camp, becoming the first side to prevent Barca scoring at home all season in a goalless draw.

But the second leg was heartbreaking. After Essien put Chelsea ahead, Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo turned down a string of penalty shouts before Barca, reduced to 10 men when Eric Abidal was sent off, scored through Andres Iniesta in the third minute of stoppage time to advance on away goals.

It was a contentious and heart-breaking way to go out but Hiddink could hold his head high for resurrecting Chelsea’s flagging season.

The second leg ended in chaos after referee Tom Ovrebo (second right) turned down a series of Chelsea penalty appeals 


Three years on and Chelsea had come no closer to winning the Champions League, the one trophy Abramovich and everyone connected with the club wanted above all others.

The 2011-12 season looked like being another costly write-off, with Andre Villas-Boas never looking the part in the Chelsea hotseat.

Interim manager Roberto Di Matteo ended Chelsea’s wait for Champions League success in the 2012 final 

He was fired in early March, midway through the last-16 Champions League tie with Napoli. The Blues had gone down 3-1 in the first leg in Italy, one of many shambolic displays that led to the Portuguese being shown the exit door.

Club legend Roberto Di Matteo, who’d been serving as assistant manager, was asked to step in as interim boss with very low expectations.

Ahead of the second leg, Di Matteo essentially reversed everything Villas-Boas had done and restore reliable figures like Lampard, Essien, John Terry and Ashley Cole to the starting line-up.

Lo and behold, Chelsea were a lot better and they won through 4-1 after extra time. Drogba, Lampard and Terry all scored before Ivanovic won it.

Suddenly Chelsea had momentum again and they made pretty light work of Benfica in the quarter-finals, winning 3-1 on aggregate, to set up a rematch with Barcelona.

Drogba scored to give Chelsea a slender advantage heading to the Nou Camp for the second leg, but soon everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

Terry was sent off for planting his knee into the back of Alexis Sanchez just moments after Sergio Busquets had levelled the tie.

With a less-than-optimal defensive pairing of Ivanovic and Jose Bosingwa, they conceded again to Iniesta and the Nou Camp expected a rout.

Didier Drogba’s bullet header in the 88th-minute helped Chelsea snatch victory from defeat

But Ramires gave them hope with a sublime chip and, after Lionel Messi missed a penalty, Fernando Torres sprinted clear in stoppage time to deliver Chelsea to the final against all odds.

All they had to do was beat Bayern Munich in their own backyard, the final being hosted by the Allianz Arena that year.

Bayern controlled most of the game and when Thomas Muller scored seven minutes from time, there seemed no way back. That was until Drogba’s thunderous header from Juan Mata’s 88th-minute corner, Chelsea’s first of the game.

In extra time, Petr Cech saved a penalty by former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben and in a tense penalty shoot-out, he was the hero again when he kept out Ivica Olic’s kick.

When Bastian Schweinsteiger hit the post, Drogba held his nerve to take Chelsea to the promised land.

It was literally impossible not to give Di Matteo the job permanently after all that. But it proved a mistake – after a 3-0 loss away to Juventus in late November all but ended their Champions League defence, Di Matteo was out.

Lampard was part of the Chelsea team that won the Champions League under an interim boss and may take inspiration as he takes on a similar task

Champions League winner odds 

Man City – 2/1

Bayern Munich – 7/2

Napoli – 4/1

Real Madrid – 11/2

Benfica – 12/1

Chelsea, Inter Milan – 14/1

AC Milan – 17/1

Courtesy of Paddy Power 


Another season, another interim boss. The end of Di Matteo’s short but sweet 262-day tenure led to Chelsea calling for former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez as a stop-gap.

It’s fair to say the Spaniard wasn’t the most popular appointment and while Chelsea would only finish third in the league – 14 points adrift of champions Manchester United – there was more European success to savour.

You’ll recall that Chelsea were dumped into the Europa League, finishing third in their Champions League group behind Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk, the latter by virtue of head-to-head away goals.

So Benitez’s Chelsea found themselves negotiating knockout ties against Sparta Prague, Steaua Bucharest and Rubin Kazan – not at all convincingly – to set up a semi-final with Basel.

The Blues sneaked a 2-1 win away in Switzerland thanks to a last-gasp David Luiz goal.

A certain Mohamed Salah opened the scoring in the Stamford Bridge return before Torres, Victor Moses and Luiz all scored in a frenetic 10-minute spell just after half-time to book a spot in another final.

Their opponents at the Amsterdam Arena were Benfica, fellow Champions League drop-outs, and all the action came after half-time. Torres made the breakthrough, only for Oscar Cardozo to level from the penalty spot after Cesar Azpilicueta handled.

Rafael Benitez was an unpopular choice as interim Chelsea manager but he changed a few opinions by leading them to Europa League success in 2013

Branislav Ivanovic was Chelsea’s match-winner in dramatic fashion late on against Benfica 

But in the final minute of stoppage time, Ivanovic rose above the Benfica defence to head home Juan Mata’s corner and add another piece of European silverware.

It was a highly satisfactory moment for Benitez and some Chelsea fans even came to quite like him.


Lampard’s first spell as Chelsea boss came to an end in January 2021 following a poor run of results that included only two wins in eight league games.

He was replaced by the former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel the very next day, another reminder there’s little sentiment at the club even for legends.

At least Chelsea had navigated their way through the Champions League group stage this time, laying the base for Tuchel to mastermind their second triumph in the competition.

With football still being played largely in front of empty stands because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Chelsea found themselves playing Atletico Madrid in the last-16, first leg in the unlikely surrounds of Bucharest, Romania.

Having replaced Frank Lampard mid-season, Thomas Tuchel delivered the Champions League

Chelsea celebrate winning Europe’s top prize for the second time after beating Man City

Real Madrid vs Chelsea first-leg match odds 

Real Madrid – 4/6

Draw – 27/10

Chelsea – 4/1

 Courtesy of Paddy Power 

Olivier Giroud’s goal set them on their way and a 2-0 second leg win at home, thanks to Hakim Ziyech and Emerson Palmieri sealed a surprisingly comfortable win over Diego Simeone’s side.

Travel restrictions led to the first leg of their quarter-final with Porto being played in Seville but it worked for Chelsea, who won 2-0 courtesy of Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell goals.

They returned there a week later for the second leg, where Porto won 1-0 but were unable to overturn the deficit.

That set up a testing semi-final against Real Madrid, who’d won four of the last seven editions.

Chelsea secured a 1-1 draw in a first leg played at Real’s training ground rather than the cavernous Bernabeu. They led through Christian Pulisic but Karim Benzema equalised.

Despite the absence of any fans inside the ground to offer energy, Chelsea produced an excellent display to win the return leg 2-0, with Timo Werner and Mount scoring.

Tuchel and Roman Abramovich talk on the pitch after Chelsea lifted the cup a second time

The final, in front of a limited crowd in Porto, was an all-English affair with Manchester City. 

Unlike Guardiola, Tuchel got his game plan spot on and Kai Havertz’s second-half goal split the sides and saw Chelsea claim European football’s biggest prize for the second time.

As the wheel spins again and Lampard tries to salvage a season in a tailspin, he can only hope history repeats.

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