Manchester United and Chelsea have plenty of things in common. They’re two of the biggest clubs in the Premier League, they’ve both won plenty of trophies – including multiple Premier League titles – and they routinely sign some of the best players in the world.
Right now, though, the thing they have most in common is that they both have relatively inexperienced bosses who happen to be club legends.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer famously scored the winning goal for the Red Devils in the 1999 Champions League final. But prior to taking over as their boss, his greatest managerial achievement had been winning Norway’s Tippeligaen with Molde.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, meanwhile, stands as the Blues’ all-time leading goalscorer. He won three Premier League titles with the club as well as the Champions League, and is perhaps their greatest ever player. However, he had just one season as manager of Derby County before taking over at Stamford Bridge.
Both Solskjaer and Lampard were able to secure Champions League spots for their respective clubs in 2019-20 by finishing in the top four. However, neither United nor Chelsea came close to challenging the top two sides in the Premier League – Manchester City and Liverpool.
Since then, though – and for different reasons – both men have come under some pressure in their jobs. But overall, which of these young and relatively unproven managers is better?
Here, in an attempt to answer that question, we take a look at the abilities of Solskjaer and Lampard in five different categories.
#1 Results in the Premier League
Football management, particularly at the highest level, is a results business first and foremost. And so with that in mind, Premier League results are probably the most important category to judge both Solskjaer and Lampard in.
Interestingly, both men have very similar statistics when it comes to their Premier League results. Solskjaer obviously has a larger sample of matches to look at, as he took over at Manchester United midway through the 2018-19 campaign, while Lampard has only spent one season in the hot-seat at Chelsea.
However, the numbers remain relatively close. Solskjaer has taken charge of 62 Premier League games. He’s won 31 of them (exactly 50%), drawn 16 (26%) and lost 15 (24%). Lampard in comparison has managed 41 games, winning 21 of them (51%), drawing seven (17%) and losing 13 (31%).
Essentially then, it’s a very tight comparison. Both men have overseen some strong wins but have also seen their side beaten by opponents considered below them on the ladder. But what about matches against the other ‘Big Six’ sides?
Solskjaer has taken on the other members of the ‘Big Six’ on 16 occasions. He’s won six of those games, drawn five of them, and lost five too. Lampard, meanwhile, has a record of four wins, one draw, and six losses against his fellow ‘Big Six’ clubs.
To add to this, it’s worth noting that Solskjaer’s United defeated Lampard’s Chelsea on two occasions during 2019-20, although both matches could be marked with an asterisk.
The first saw United win 4-0, but this was Lampard’s first match in charge of the Blues. And while United ran out 0-2 winners in their second meeting, the match was marred by horrendous officiating that saw two Chelsea goals chalked off and United’s Harry Maguire inexplicably avoid a red card for violent conduct.
Overall then, you would have to say that Solskjaer has achieved the best Premier League results of the two – something that was made clear by United finishing one place above Chelsea in the 2019-20 season.
#2 Results in Europe
As United and Chelsea are two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, routinely competing on the European stage, it’s also worth looking at the results of both managers in European competition.
In this instance, Solskjaer obviously has more experience than Lampard. He took over at Old Trafford with the Red Devils midway through a Champions League campaign, and then oversaw their Europa League efforts in 2019-20. Lampard meanwhile has managed just one Champions League campaign with Chelsea.
Of the two, Solskjaer clearly picked up the best European result when he led his United side to a stirring comeback against Paris St. Germain in the Champions League’s Round of 16. Trailing 0-2 after losing the first leg at Old Trafford, the Norwegian inspired his side to a remarkable 1-3 win at the Parc Des Princes, with Marcus Rashford’s late penalty sending United through to the Quarter-Finals.
Since then, however, United’s European results have not been so good. There was no shame in the loss to Barcelona that followed their victory over PSG, but their 2019-20 Europa League campaign was ultimately disappointing.
United made the knockout stages – but only after an embarrassing defeat to Kazakh side Astana – and then eliminated Club Brugge, LASK and Copenhagen before slumping to defeat to Sevilla in the semi-finals. Usually, a semi-final spot would be a solid achievement, but really, United should’ve been looking to win the competition, and in that sense, they failed.
Solskjaer’s European achievements still put Lampard into the shade, however. The Chelsea boss saw his side given a favourable draw in the 2019-20 Champions League, as they were placed into a group with Ajax, Valencia and Lille.
However, the Blues were upset by Valencia in their opening fixture, and had to rely on a late comeback against nine-man Ajax to secure a 4-4 draw with the Dutch side at Stamford Bridge. They made it through the group, but didn’t exactly impress, and were then hammered by Bayern Munich in the Round of 16.
Overall, Solskjaer’s Champions League experiences were brief, but in those games he still looked more at home on that stage than Lampard did, and so it’s hard not to give him the edge in this category too.