Fri | Mar 5, 2021

No sentimentality as Chelsea fire Lampard

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2021 | 12:11 AM
LAMPARD
LAMPARD

Sentimentality couldn’t save Frank Lampard.

Being Chelsea’s record scorer counted for little when the team’s decline, on Lampard’s watch as manager, alarmed owner Roman Abramovich after US$300 million invested in new talent for this season.

After just 18 months in charge, and five losses in the last eight English Premier League (EPL) games, the novice coach was fired yesterday.

It was the 14th change of managers in 18 years with Abramovich at the helm, and former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has been lined up to replace Lampard.

What Lampard’s status at the club did afford him was a public statement of explanation from the Russian billionaire, for whom he helped to win so many trophies as a player.

“This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank, and I have the utmost respect for him,” Abramovich said. “He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers.”

Those circumstances see Chelsea down in ninth place in the EPL with the worst points-per-game record of any of Abramovich’s managers. The performances had “not met expectations” and left the team “without any clear path to sustained improvement,” Chelsea concluded.

APPRECIATION

“On behalf of everyone at the club, the board and personally, I would like to thank Frank for his work as head coach and wish him every success in the future,” Abramovich said. “He is an important icon of this great club and his status here remains undiminished. He will always be warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge.”

The lack of fans being allowed into the stadium due to the pandemic might have hastened Lampard’s departure. There was no opportunity for supporters to demonstrate their public support for “Super Frank Lampard” as they chant or for any backlash against his removal at upcoming games.

As the pressure has grown, the cracks were showing ahead of the Emirates FA Cup win over Luton on Sunday when Lampard hit out at perceived negative coverage of the team.

But his own shortcomings of a fledging coaching career were being exposed, and sentimentality was cast aside despite him being instrumental to the trophy-laden revival of the club as a player since the takeover by Abramovich.

Chelsea brought back its midfield great as coach in 2019 even though Lampard had only a single season’s experience in management in the second division with Derby.

He achieved UEFA Champions League qualification in his first season by securing a fourth-place finish in the EPL despite the club making no signings, in part due to a FIFA transfer ban.

AP