They had all arrived, some of them won things, some of them didn’t. Some of them only lasted months, some a couple of years.
But they all went in the end, worn out by Chelsea’s incessant search for something else, or simply because they failed, or couldn’t take it anymore and wanted out.
But none of them, not even Jose Mourinho on his return for his second stint in charge, generated the kind of excitement and anticipation that Frank Lampard did as he sat in that seat on Thursday.
They were standing outside Stamford Bridge waiting for him in the July sunshine, waiting for a glimpse of their returning hero. Weirdly, after a summer when the club have lost their best player, and cannot sign anyone because of a transfer ban, there has almost never been such optimism.
But Frank Lampard yesterday as he calmly laid out his plans for the club, does not want to look backwards. The club record goalscorer, 211 goals in 648 games for the club, is out to make Chelsea contenders again.
The 41 year old, who agreed a three year deal worth £4 million a year plus bonuses, said: “I played here for many years and I know there are standards. There is a baseline of being competitive.
“I was fortunate to be here in an era when we were competitive. In the Premier League that is a big ask.
“That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be there or thereabouts. The expectation here is to remain competitive.
“We know about the transfer ban, we know about Manchester City and Liverpool. We have to be realistic, but we have to start with the intention of looking to win – if I didn’t say that I don’t think I should be here.”
Lampard pledged to give Chelsea’s young players the chance to prove they are good enough to get into his team, but insisted: “This squad is good enough for a top four position.”
Lampard, who takes his team to Dublin on Friday to begin their pre-season preparations, added: “What I will bring here is a respect for the players.
“I’m not banning tomato ketchup. They can go home and they can have a whole tub of it. But if I see it showing on the training pitch I will be strong.”
Previously at Chelsea it has been notoriously hard for young players to break through. The ban means that Lampard, who had Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori on loan at Derby with him from Chelsea last season, may well have to rely on them. But they will have to earn their place.
He said: “My job is to try and find a balance between the players that think they are in the team, and the players breaking through.
“My eyes will always be open to the young players but they have to show they are good enough, because we can’t lower our levels. I am not going to be doing young boys favours and putting them in.
“I understand that if a door can seem locked it can affect young players. I will make it very clear that the door is open.”
He will though, not be drawn into comparing the glory days of John Terry and Didier Drogba, to his current crew: “It is easy to look back at my era and say we won so much. But we had difficult years.
“What you won’t hear me saying is that in my era we used to do this and we used to do that. I will not be standing there after every game comparing.”