Chelsea are reportedly considering Frank Lampard’s position after a bad run of form, but is that fair? Are their struggles that bad? And even if they are, is it his fault?
Frank Lampard is, according to reports from our pals at The Athletic, dangling by a thread.
Chelsea’s poor run of form has apparently caused the big cheeses at Stamford Bridge to start thumbing through an already well-thumbed book marked ‘other managers’ but is that fair?
Sure, they are on a run of four defeats from the last six and have looked limper than the two-week old lettuce you panic bought just before Christmas, but as Arsenal, Everton and pretty much any other team in the Premier League this season have shown, this is a strange season when form undulates and can be reversed quite quickly.
“I don’t really understand anything about the situation,” said Michael Cox on The Totally Football Show.
“I still don’t really understand why he was appointed on the back of one OK season in the Championship, and I don’t understand why, if you’re going to appoint him then expect him to be an overnight success. If you take that kind of risk, there are always going to be some dips in performance.
“I haven’t seen that much in Lampard to make me think he’s going to be a top manager, but I do think it’s quite tough to accommodate five or six new signings in your first XI when it’s a season where you’re not going to get much time on the training ground.
“I think he was lucky to get the job in the first place, but I do feel slightly sorry for him if he’s being asked to create a real title-challenging side with this group in the first season. Having made all these signings it was probably next season when they were going to challenge, and I think his performance should be judged on whether there is a long-term plan and building towards that.
“I think the answer to that question based on the last few weeks is probably no – I don’t see what he’s aiming at.
Daniel Storey added: “The reality is he spent 20% of all the money Premier League clubs did last season on new players, and they’re quite a long way behind where they were even two years ago under Maurizio Sarri.
“I admire, or I can recognise that Chelsea want this new age where they don’t just lurch from manager to manager, but it’s more important to get the right one, if you’re going to do that, than it has been before.
“Chelsea have probably had the best decade of any Premier League club – they’ve won two titles, the Premier League, the Europa League. Not many clubs would swap that. That means their previous policy was working, so if you’re going to shift from that and have a ‘project’ manager, it kind of needs to work out, and it kind of isn’t.”
Benji Lanyado was a little more forgiving: “The rational thing to do would be to give him time. I think they mentioned on the TV commentary that Chelsea are prone to giving up too quickly: not just with managers, but with players. They let Mo Salah slip through their hands, the same with Kevin De Bruyne, the same with Romelu Lukaku.
“I wonder whether these forward players, whether he chose them or whether they were just thrown at him. It reminds me of the Jurassic Park quote: they were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think whether they should. They scooped up Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech – I’m not convinced they were chosen because they suited a style and philosophy that Lampard wanted to play, I think they were just thrown at him. So I think he’s got to be given time.”
But Michael Cox outlined a few longer-term worries: “The long-term concern for Chelsea, for me, is that I didn’t see anything from them going forwards. It made sense for them to play Werner up front with City’s high line, but I just think they look so much better with Giroud: he seems to be the player that you’re able bring into the side and he connects players who don’t look like they can connect together.
“I did think after the Arsenal game that it was probably one too many times he’s gone for that [blaming his players], in terms of almost throwing the players under the bus. It can happen in one or two games in a season, but when he keeps saying that you have to wonder whether there’s a common theme. I just don’t think they can keep on saying “the players weren’t ready”. That says something about how the players are being managed.”
Otherwise, you can listen to the latest edition of the Totally Football Show here, and even better you can subscribe here. If you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article or from the podcast you are very welcome to, but please credit The Totally Football Show and include this link.