While although the rumblings of discontent were getting louder, not many people would have envisaged Frank Lampard being sacked as Chelsea manager on Monday. Then again, when it comes to the club’s managerial recruitment policy, nothing can really be considered a surprise these days.
For a man who has just overseen a relatively comfortable victory over Luton in the F.A. Cup 4th Round, there was little exuberance from Lampard in the post-match interviews and with the events that happened just 24 hours later, it now makes sense as to why.
Of course Frank Lampard, the club’s all-time top scorer, was not sacked because of cup progress, he was sacked predominately for shortcomings in the league and when you consider how much money was spent last summer, the expectations from owner Roman Abramovich would have increased considerably. At a minimum Chelsea were supposed to be in the top four of the table and although they are only a handful of points from such a target, performances such as the one away at Leicester would have rung all manner of alarm bells.
Their performance proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and, although it was not solely defeat at the King Power that proved to be the death knell for Lampard, it was certainly the tipping point in terms of a decision. Not only had Lampard ceded ground to the teams which they considered title rivals but he had also asked for one toy too many. With friction appearing from the failure to land Declan Rice, it left the former West Ham midfielder on shaky ground.
After a reported falling out with Marina Granovskaia, it would have been advisable to focus on performance on the pitch and although Chelsea’s previous managerial incumbent would have done just that, those superstars that were purchased last summer failed to help him out when needed.
Much has been made about the misfiring start to both Timo Werner and Kai Havertz’s Chelsea career and when you look at the failure to get them up to speed by now, that was another blot on Lampard’s copybook.
Then again, perhaps a bigger fault of the 42-year-old was the way in which he threw out his old toys and, with several superstars quickly becoming persona non grata at Stamford Bridge, the board would have been concerned at the continual lack of return of investment.
One example is goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. Although Lampard wasn’t responsible for his arrival from Athletic Bilbao, he was certainly responsible for shattering what little confidence the Spaniard possessed. The 26-year-old shot stopper has had a nightmare spell between the sticks at Stamford Bridge and this was an obvious point of frustration for Chelsea’s now former manager. However, the way in which he was cast aside will have rankled with those sit in the boardroom.
With a world record fee of £75m required to land the services of Arrizabalaga, his performances combined with the toxicity that now follows him, means that if they decide to cash in on another expensive bust, they will do well to recoup even half of their expenditure.
Players and managers will fall out, that’s something that has been a constant throughout football and will continue for evermore. However, the way in which Lampard quickly exiled players, rather than deciding to work with them and potentially improve them, will have also worked against him.
Which means, when you add this to a charge sheet which includes board friction plus poor performance and fuse it together with an owner who is ruthless in terms achieving success, then the writing was always going to be on the wall and it was inevitable that Frank Lampard would be sacked.
Writing that has now been scrubbed out, as a new name has already been installed at the helm and with Thomas Tuchel the next link on the ever-extending managerial chain, don’t be surprised if column inches regarding his departure are penned a couple of years from now.
That’s not a reflection of the former Borussia Dortmund and PSG manager, its more a reflection of how Chelsea operate and although they can be accused of short-termism, you cannot argue that such a policy works overall.
Yes, they may have periods of bust, but they also have incredible periods of boom at the same time and the ends usually justify the means for Roman Abramovich. When you consider the talents that Tuchel can already call upon, don’t be surprised if the German leads his new charges to success at the end of the season.