Frank Lampard steering Chelsea to fourth place was an unexpected feat for the club’s all-time leading scorer in his first season in topflight management while hampered by the club’s transfer ban.
Chelsea reaped the benefits of Lampard having to delve into the club’s pool of academy graduates rather than making expensive signings.
Fittingly, 21-year-old midfielder Mason Mount, who only made his competitive debut in August, scored the first goal in Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton.
“I’ve learnt a million things," Lampard said.
The season could still end for Chelsea in a Champions League final if a 3-0 deficit to Bayern Munich can be overcome next month in the round of 16.
Lampard's first chance of a trophy as Chelsea manager comes in Saturday’s FA Cup final against Arsenal.
Like Chelsea, Arsenal turned to a former midfielder this season to take charge.
Arriving halfway through the campaign as Unai Emery’s replacement, Mikel Arteta lacked the time to impose his vision on the north London club.
Arsenal will be absent from the Champions League for a fourth successive season and the only route into the Europa League is by winning the FA Cup after finishing eighth.
Arsenal was even overhauled by Tottenham, which was adrift in 14th place when Mauricio Pochettino was fired in November and replaced by Jose Mourinho.