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Chris WrightToe Poke writer
While it’s always unfortunate when a football manager loses his job, Frank Lampard’s dismissal from his post as Chelsea boss this week proved to be particularly regrettable for one Blues supporters’ group.
In a show of support for their under-fire club legend, We Are The Shed raised around £1,000 ($1,370) at short notice to produce a large banner tribute to Lampard, which was unfurled at Stamford Bridge.
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The 49 foot-long banner, which read “In Frank We Trust. Then. Now. Forever.” was in place for Sunday’s 3-1 win over Luton in the FA Cup (stream the replay on ESPN+ in the U.S.), which turned out to be Lampard’s final game in charge before he was sacked the following day.
The group have requested that the banner remain in place at the Bridge as a lasting mark of their gratitude to Lampard, regardless of his 18-month managerial stint coming to such an underwhelming end.
We Are The Shed co-creator Alex Burke told The Sun: “We are thankful we had one game where the banner was on show. We will ask to keep it up but I am not sure what the club will say.
“Of the £1,000 needed about 75% was raised by our group, with the other 25% through social media. Any excess donations went to Reece James‘ charity [The Felix Project, which delivers food to charities and schools in London], which Lampard himself ended up donating to as well. That just sums up the man he was and the connection he had with us.
“It just feels like a slap in the face. As a group we were hoping that the fact they even allowed the banner in meant they would be backing Frank, but that wasn’t the case.”
It’s not the first jinxed football banner to precede unfortunate events, and we’re fairly sure it won’t be the last. Here are a few other classic examples of the art form that have graced the terraces, only to backfire.
“Good Boys” (Arsenal, 2017)
Arsenal fans shelled out to produce a family portrait of Alexis Sanchez and his two beloved Labrador dogs in a misguided attempt to make the Chilean forward, who at the time had only 18 months left on his contract, feel so at home in North London that he’d commit the rest of his career to the Gunners.
Atom and Humber had become social media stars in their own right, with the forward regularly plastering his Instagram account with images of him frolicking with his two best buddies. The “Good Boys” banner and another inserting the dogs’ names into the club’s motto appeared at the Emirates in January 2017, ushering in with it the beginning of the end for Sanchez at Arsenal.
Confirmation of sizes – upper tier permanent banner : 1 metre x 6 metres pic.twitter.com/48e305RjzN
— REDaction Gooners (@REDactionAFC) January 11, 2017
Club Level temporary banner: 2 metres x 9 metres pic.twitter.com/P0b3WLEAIY
— REDaction Gooners (@REDactionAFC) January 11, 2017
Just six months later, he came close to joining Manchester City only to see an enormous summer deadline-day transfer fall through at the last minute because of the Gunners’ failure to acquire a suitable replacement.
Sanchez then began the 2017-18 season in subdued form, underperforming for the latter six months of the year before finally making his escape in January 2018, this time to rivals Manchester United. History then repeated almost immediately as a United fan group made the mistake of producing a banner to welcome Sanchez, Atom and Humber to Manchester for his Old Trafford debut.
Welcome to Manchester, Alexis 🐶 pic.twitter.com/6rING7mvLb
— Simon Peach (@SimonPeach) February 3, 2018
Needless to say, things didn’t really pan out from that point on — again.
“The Chosen One” (Manchester United, 2013)
Of course, it should be noted that Manchester United supporters have experience when it comes to getting carried away with over-the-top banners. After Sir Alex Ferguson’s glorious reign came to an end in 2013, United were suddenly thrust into a state of flux as the prestigious managerial mantle — held by the same patriarch for the previous quarter-century — was handed to Fergie’s hand-picked successor, David Moyes.
Almost £500 was spent by the Stretford End Flags supporters’ group to ensure that Moyes was heralded as “The Chosen One” upon his arrival at Old Trafford in May 2013. By April 2014, he was gone and his accompanying banner had to be squirreled away in a secret location inside the bowels of the stadium to ensure it never saw the light of day again.
“We Don’t Need Batman…” (Arsenal, 2011)
Another classic from the Arsenal archives, dating from November 2011 when Robin van Persie was in fine fettle and having his praises sung vociferously from the rafters at the Emirates. With other big names having already bowed out, the Gunners had also just surrendered Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona after a year-long transfer saga. Thankfully, Arsene Wenger’s new vice-captain Van Persie was picking up a lot of the slack by scoring goals for fun, much to the delight of supporters. The man himself even directly referenced the banner during an interview, stating that it was “the biggest compliment he could wish for.”
“Arsenal fans are real lovers of the game. They don’t miss anything in the stadium and are there for the team and the individual players,” the Dutch striker told the Daily Mirror. “I have to admit I love banners like ‘We don’t need Batman, we’ve got Robin’ and stuff like that.”
Less than a year later, Van Persie was a Manchester United player having jumped to sign for the Gunners’ direct rivals. He went on to top the scoring charts in 2012-13 while securing the first Premier League title of his career.
“Il Principino” (Liverpool, 2010)
Showing that they too are no strangers to the ridiculous overblown banner tribute, Liverpool fans made themselves look a little bit silly upon Alberto Aquilani’s arrival at Anfield in 2009. Despite coming with a cool nickname (“The Little Prince”) and decent reputation as a stylish central midfielder, there really wasn’t any need for a banner declaring Aquilani to be some kind of Roman gladiatorial paragon in waiting.
Aquilani made just 28 appearances for Liverpool and spent two of his five injury-hampered years on the club’s books away on loan in Italy. It all came to a quiet end in 2012, when he returned home on a permanent deal having signed for Fiorentina.