Lampard back at Chelsea, Poch at Spurs, Jose at Man Utd and other managerial returns we’d love to see

Dave Tickner
Jose Mourinho, Frank Lampard and Mauricio Pochettino going back.
Jose Mourinho, Frank Lampard and Mauricio Pochettino going back.

Graham Potter has had a tough old time since leaving Brighton for Chelsea, but that story could have a happy-ish ending with plenty of reports suggesting he could be heading back to the Amex. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be pleased for him.

But it got us thinking, which is always dangerous, about some other triumphant managerial returns we’d love to see, some because they would genuinely be nice and others because we just want to watch the world burn.


Graham Potter back to Brighton
Seems like this one could really be a goer, and it would be lovely to think it will all go swimmingly.

We’ve noted before how ‘Careful What You Wish For’ is a standard judgey pundit admonishment to fans whenever they have the temerity to want something better than the dross being served up by someone who is, by sheer coincidence, a friend and former team-mate of said pundit. But it’s rarely applied to managers themselves, is it? Seems to us they are at least as likely as fans to discover to their cost that the grass is not always greener.

Potter suffered more than most. While we all marvelled at his dramatic big-club glow-up and further confirmation that beards really are make-up for men, that was the only good thing to come from his move to Chelsea. His team were rotten and underperforming, and to make matters far, far worse the Brighton team he had moulded so brilliantly then went and got even better under Roberto De Zerbi.

It’s rare for a manager’s status to take that kind of double punishment, and he still hasn’t sufficiently recovered to get back into management.

Maybe then, a return to Brighton is the best for all concerned. The last few months have at least provided some mitigating cover, with Chelsea still beset by utter silliness and De Zerbi’s star fading significantly before his departure from Brighton was confirmed.

Now Potter can go back to where he was happy and successful with the big-club itch scratched and knowing to be careful what he wishes for in future. Maybe everyone wins here, in the end. Apart from Chelsea, obviously, but f*** Chelsea.


Mauricio Pochettino back to Tottenham
Talking of Chelsea…hats off to them, because they’ve rescued this one too. From the moment Pochettino left Tottenham in 2019 it felt inevitable that he would one day return. That there remained unfinished business for both club and manager. The fans, even those who felt it probably was time to move on when he made way for Jose Mourinho, still sung his name. He was still loved and respected throughout the club and it appeared to be an entirely mutual feeling.

One day, he would be back. We would have had it number one on a list of ‘Things That Will Definitely Happen In The Next Five Years’.

And then he joined Chelsea. Sorry, Mauricio, you’ve done what?

He was sufficiently embedded in Fully COYS culture to know what it meant. To know what he’d done. It was a move made all the more surprising by Pochettino having been so picky about the jobs he’d taken in the years since leaving Spurs, with 18 unpleasant if trophy-filled months in Paris his only other gig. Taking the Chelsea job meant burning his Spurs bridges.

Then Chelsea decided to sack him for reasons that were small and tw*tty, and replace him with a manager who has never taken charge of a top-flight game.

Pochettino emerges as the victim, Chelsea look like absolute villains, and the chance of a return to Spurs is rekindled.

We’re still not as certain about this one happening as we were 18 months ago. But if he can resist the lure of Manchester United – and we couldn’t really blame him for not doing so – he could even return as early as November when Angeball inevitably implodes completely and Spurs are 13th having scored 30 goals but conceded 35 in their first 14 games.

Steve Cooper back to Nottingham Forest
You didn’t need to be a Forest fan to feel sad about the manner of Cooper’s Forest departure. Yes, it probably did need to happen and the end just about justified the means with Nuno Espirito Santo keeping them up with a bit to spare in the end.

But that was also so very much down to the ineptitude of others that one still wonders whether Cooper wouldn’t also have pulled it off.

And the fact is that the reason he needed to be replaced in the first place was in large part due to the poor sod being worn down and exhausted by the sheer, relentless ridiculousness of Forest and their owner and their transfer strategy and their upcoming points penalties and all the rest of it.

Even if it was the right thing to do, it was always on Forest and never on him. Mainly, anyway.

We know a few Forest fans, some of them shameful splitters who left us for proper careers, and they do miss him terribly. We can’t even ‘careful what you wish for’ them, either, because in no way did they wish for this.

Nuno is going to start the season at the very least, and fair enough after doing precisely the job he was brought in to do, but Cooper being linked with all sorts of jobs is causing pangs among Forest fans, many of whom we suspect have been rather hoping he might remain out of work long enough for a switcheroo in which he rides to the rescue midway through next season to replace the wearied Nuno.


Frank Lampard back to Chelsea
Who better to steer Chelsea back on course when this Enzo Maresca experiment inevitably goes all to sh*t some time around the second international break of the season? If Chelsea are the kind of mess we think they might be by that stage, they’re going to need someone who knows the club. Someone with Chelsea DNA. Someone the fans love. Someone who gets it.

There’s only one man for the job, and that’s Super Frank Lampard. Or Jose Mourinho.

There are only two men for the job. Both would be hilarious for different reasons, so either is fine with us. But we have other plans for Jose.


Brendan Rodgers back to Leicester
That job’s available right now and they were quite good together for a bit there, weren’t they? Leicester and Rodgers? Was a nice fit. Let’s do that again.

If that’s not a goer, then we’ll settle for Rodgers going back to Liverpool if/when Arne Slot doesn’t work out. Imagine all the fun we can all have with ‘beloved former Liverpool manager set to return’ headlines about that one.


Jose Mourinho back to Man United
And talking of managers with a second-place Premier League finish behind Manchester City, how about this elegant solution to United’s current woes? He’s just the man to put in charge of a group of talented but fragile younglings and set them on the path to true greatness.

And nobody’s done better than that second-place finish since, have they? Yeah. Think about that. United’s best manager since Ferguson. These are facts. Just remember the golden rule: never ask a man his salary, a woman her age, or Jose Mourinho how many points adrift his Man United runners-up were.

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