Chelsea: Lampard insists job isn't under immediate threat
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard finds himself under the cosh with the Blues winning just one of their last six Premier League games and losing four, their title credentials suffering a gut punch as a result. Lampard is reportedly on the brink of being sacked if he cannot lift the Londoners out of their current rut. Express Sport reporters have had their say on whether or not Lampard should be sacked by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in the latest edition of the Big Debate.
Frank Lampard deserves a chance to turn things around. That goes without saying in my opinion.
The unpredictable nature of this season means Chelsea are just a few successive wins away from turning their season around entirely – as seen with Arsenal. In many ways, this feels like a Championship promotion race.
If the Blues are willing to commit to a long-term vision, they have to take the rough with the smooth.
Yes, Lampard has spent heavily, over £220million to be precise, but it was never going to bring immediate success. That’s just common sense.
While there have been alarming elements to Chelsea’s decline, they were unlucky not to win at both Everton and Wolves.
I’m still unconvinced that Lampard can win major trophies with Chelsea but I don’t think it’s the right time to make rash decisions. Let’s judge him at the end of the campaign.
No, Chelsea should not sack Frank Lampard.
We all know the track record Chelsea have with managers. Luiz Felipe Scolari lasted eight months, Andre Villas Boas nine. Roberto Di Matteo was axed five months after winning the Champions League.
Owner Roman Abramovich is never afraid to pull the trigger – and don’t bother making the argument that stability brings success to a club to him. Despite all the chopping and changing – 12 permanent managers in the 17 years since he bought the club – there have been five league titles in that time, one Champions League, two Europa League’s, five FA Cups and three League Cups.
So Lampard, despite his status as a legendary player with the club, knows full well that that buys him only limited credit.
However – in his first year, Lampard faced a transfer embargo, and was the first manager since Abramovich took over to properly use the players from the academy the Russian takes such pride in. That provides a future for the club.
Yes, Lampard was handed nearly £230m in the summer to spend on new players, and Abramovich wants a return on that investment – fast.
But we are only 17 games into this season. Lampard should be given time to sort this out, to get these expensive players into a framework that delivers. He knows he does not have much time, but he should be given some.
Do I think, in the long term, Frank Lampard is a Premier League-winning manager? No, I’m not sure I do. But do I think he should be sacked? Again, no.
He deserves more time to prove himself, and he did well to get a top-four finish last season given it was a fresh-faced squad. Clearly, if they were willing to hand him so much in the summer transfer window, Roman Abramovich, Marina Granovskaia and the club board believe that Lampard can win major honours.
So why sack him a third of the way into his second season?
Five defeats from 17 Premier League games is disappointing, yes, but there have been mitigating circumstances in some of those matches – such as when the Blues were right in the game against Liverpool until Andreas Christensen’s red card.
They’ve also performed well in the Champions League and were only recently talked up as major contenders to Liverpool.
This season has proven with multiple teams that circumstances can change rapidly and if Chelsea can find some consistency again, their squad depth means they can still be a threat in the title race, even if they are unlikely to go on and win it.
With a manager of such inexperience, even despite giving him so much money, I think it was probably unreasonable to expcet him to win the league in his second season – even if it does feel this year like there is an opportunity for a team to steal in and take the crown.
What Lampard does need to do is settle on his best eleven – which will be easier now Hakim Ziyech is fit – and also get more of a tune out of the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, even though, again, it is natural that some of their new signings need half a season or more to fully adjust.
Were Mauricio Pochettino on the market, it might be a different answer, but unless you can prise Brendan Rodgers from Leicester I’m not sure there’s anyone else out there who, crucially, is gettable, would operate with a similar ethos to Lampard and who would do more with this Chelsea team in the short term.
The poor form of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz could undoubtedly sink him but if Frank Lampard can unlock those talents the rest of the side are good enough to save him.
Six games ago Lampard (who remains alive in the Champions League don’t forget) steered Chelsea on to the heels of the leaders in third in the table. No one was moaning then.
And a run of six games coming up containing Fulham, Burnley, Sheffield United and Newcastle (and Leicester and Spurs), could see things looking a lot brighter by the time they recommence in Europe against Atletico Madrid in late February.
But Manchester United showed the benefit of backing their manager in the aftermath of crashing out of the Champions League and were rewarded with a renewed effort in the league.
Chelsea could get the same bounce.
If he does go Roman Abramovich has tended to go Italian for success so Max Allegri would be the fix most likely to follow.
I personally hope Chelsea give Frank Lampard as much time as they realistically can to turn things around at Stamford Bridge and there are several reasons why.
Firstly, there is the obvious emotional element of Lampard being a Blues legend and it is hard to think of another player who would be as well suited to being the long-term manager at Chelsea.
But there are logical reasons to give him time to turn things around as well. Last season he exceeded expectations by securing a top-four finish and reaching the FA Cup final despite not being able to add to his squad in his first two transfer windows and losing the man Chelsea’s team had been built around in recent years in Eden Hazard.
This summer’s massive spending spree shifted expectation hugely and rightly so. But let’s not forget that the large majority of the new signings are having to adapt to a new country during an unprecedented time due to the COVID pandemic and Lampard did not have a traditional pre-season to help the new arrivals settle in.
Chelsea also have a huge number of young players in their side and it is widely accepted many youngsters suffer dips in form at times.
So for the reasons above, plus many more, I believe Lampard should be given time to turn things around and with games against Morecambe and Fulham next, there is a good chance he will.
But if the club do swing the axe yet again, then I hope they stick with a young, exciting manager or head coach and go for RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann.
Chelsea shouldn’t even be considering sacking Frank Lampard at the moment, despite their poor run of form.
They went against their usual managerial policy when they hired him, because Roman Abramovich surely knew he was one for the long-term and not just a stop-gap.
While his record in recent weeks has made for grim reading, and he might not possess the tactical knowledge required to get the best out of some of his players at the moment, it’s imperative that he’s given time.
Nobody expected him to have instant success at the club, so it would make no sense for the club to ditch their long-term goal and vision just because of a bit of a baron run of games over a hectic festive period.
Chelsea have made it a habit far too often of sacking managers too early – take Antonio Conte, Andre Villas-Boas and Maurizio Sarri as just three examples.
Doing the same again would be nonsensical if they ever want to change the type of club they are. They’ve got a young squad and a young manager, both need to be given time.
After four defeats in six games, it is all too easy to forget some of the positives Frank Lampard has brought to Chelsea in his time as manager.
Dealt a dud hand with the transfer ban, he fast-tracked the youth policy and has an energetic sprinkling of home-grown young players in and around the squad.
With the help of Petr Cech, he seems to have solved the goalkeeping problems that have hung around, ironically, since Thibault Courtois left.
Kai Havertz could yet be the man to replace Eden Hazard – another huge hole that Lampard inherited and he took them to the top of the table, briefly, for the first time since September 2018.
True, with the money spent expectations are going to be sky-high, but as long as Chelsea remain in contention for a Champions League place at the end of the season, it is hard to expect much more from Lampard, who must now show his experience in the game in enough to turn the current slide around.
Otherwise, Thomas Tuchel is conspicuously available and Brendan Rodgers is earning himself a second crack at one of the ‘big’ clubs. Lampard’s biggest worry is that Roman Abramovich sees him as too good an asset to miss out on before one of Chelsea’s rivals snap him up.
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