Roughly a minute into the first episode, Frank Lampard stands outside the press room in isolation. He looks anxious, is clearly zoned out and for a moment – feels like he’s revisiting any last thoughts. Moments later he opens the door to a room full of journalists, and walks down the aisle to take another dig at his legacy. Along with his best man – Jody Morris – he knows he not only has an incredibly tough job at hand, he also might be taking a hit at what everyone thought was unshakable – his time as the Bridge’s number eight.
Coming Home is a six-part documentary of Chelsea’s 2019-20 season narrated majorly by Frank Lampard. Overall it clocks to a crisp eighty-one minutes. Cinematically, it doesn’t have the off-the-pitch drama of an Amazon Prime production or the fans’ perspective as in Netflix’s Sunderland Till I Die. It doesn’t elevate Frank to a Brian Clough and make Chelsea look like the Damned United, or even devote too much to nostalgia as in The Class of ‘92. Coming Home is quite simply about a football fan’s least favourite topic of discussion – the present, and in knowing the outcomes makes us weirdly comfortable with the man in-charge.
It has been time and again discussed throughout this extended season as to why the last twelve months posed hurdles like never before in the club’s recent history. But Coming Home added an extra edge to it – for it showed us how the men at Cobham were more calculative than we thought. Frank’s patient take-aways from defeats against United, Liverpool and Bayern – paid off in wins later on in the season. The realism in expectation was, for the first time, matched by the realism in execution. Suddenly, Pulisic’s run against City and Jorginho’s assist against Watford aren’t just mystical; they now have their own grades on sweat and intention as well.
Coming Home also brought into perspective the youth’s role this season. It is easy to be a critic and weigh in arguments in favour of a bias for academy products, but then roll in flashbacks and photo albums of their younger days. Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori and Billy Gilmour all made huge impressions this season. Looking at their old photos reminded us of all those who dreamt and didn’t make it. Not only does that put into light how intense the hierarchy is at Chelsea, but also how the five who made it this season had a form of struggle very different from the others. Their dreams always bled blue, and they are humble for they know how easily it could have been the other ten in that U-11s side.
The only negative take-away from the documentary is the lack of our Spanish speaking captain. Ironically, it is again his lack of presence on the screen (contrary to the pitch) which caught my eye. Coming Home’s self-indulgent nature should have found room for the man at right-back, for I believe it is him who currently starts and ends the spine of our squad.
Fifth Stand brought to us Cobham in it’s everyday look – both a luxury and a necessity. With the sheer millions of pounds that have flown in this summer, it was a timely reminder of the humane side of football. Predictably, the documentary flew under the radar with a Ben Chilwell training video garnering more fan engagement than a well-edited tale of the present. Amidst a Havertz transfer, Sarr loan, Werner’s form, Ziyech’s half-injury, and Declan Rice’s seductive tweets, supporters are more opinionated than ever. Coming Home – which separated the prodigal son’s fantasy from fiction – needs to be watched for what it advertises – football in its most grassroot understanding. And if anything, makes us more righteously level-headed for Season Two.
Did you enjoy Coming Home? Let us know in the comments!