Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has been under the microscope of fans and the club alike lately, but he deserves more time to prove himself.
The alarm bells that have been blaring around Stamford Bridge over the past few weeks have quieted slightly after Chelsea defeated Morecambe 4-0 in the FA Cup on Sunday afternoon. Frank Lampard deployed a surprisingly strong first XI against the League Two side, but questions surrounding the club legend’s future as manager still remain.
Rumors about an imminent sacking of Lampard have been making the rounds on social media since the Blues’ embarrassing 3-1 loss to Manchester City back on January 3. Chelsea was outclassed, and more importantly, outworked in the defeat. This prompted pundits to ponder whether the Englishman has his squad’s full support. The fan base appears to be divided on Lampard’s future, with some encouraging patience, while others are calling for his head.
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It is unsurprising that this relatively short run of poor form has brought about these questions, likely because Roman Abramovich has never been an owner who accepts mediocrity. During the Russian oil tycoon’s tenure as the big boss, Chelsea has had 14 different managers, including two separate stints for Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink. Even those who helped elevate the Blues to the international powerhouse that they are today—like Mourinho—have been given a short leash if the results are less than stellar.
Now, names like Thomas Tuchel, Julian Nagelsmann, and Massimiliano Allegri are being thrown around as potential replacements as Chelsea sits ninth in the Premier League table. A managerial change admittedly might give the players a much-needed boost, but in the long term, sacking Lampard would be a huge mistake.
The biggest difference between this season and last for the Blues are expectations. When the squad was filled with academy graduates and leftovers from the Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri eras, supporters were more accepting of a few bad performances, especially considering how much energy and passion the players showed. After spending nearly £250 million over the summer to bring in a host of international superstars though, the tolerance is understandably dwindling. That being said, constantly sacking managers sends a bad message about the club’s relationship with its coaching staff and may be detrimental in hiring sought-after candidates later on.
Of course, Lampard cannot be absolved of blame for the team’s poor form, as many of Chelsea’s problems fall on his shoulders. His squad selection has been questionable at times, especially during the recent injury crisis. Further, some of his tactical decisions—specifically regarding formations—have left something to be desired.
However, sacking Lampard because of this difficult stretch would be a huge overreaction given how much he has already accomplished with the Blues. Finishing in the top four and reaching the FA Cup final last season with what was largely a U23 squad was a fantastic achievement. He also played a huge role in the positive feelings around the Bridge heading into this season. Lastly, Lampard’s status as an all-time Chelsea great has to count for something; if he is not given more time than past managers, who will be?
If the Blues can return to winning ways over their next few matches, the over-reactionary fan base will surely be back to supporting Lampard and put this whole situation behind them. A few more losses and Super Frank might be on the unemployment line.
In my opinion, though, unless Chelsea suddenly finds itself in a relegation battle, Lampard should remain manager until the end of the season. At that point, after two full seasons, there will be enough evidence to decide whether he is the right man for the future. For now though, supporters should stop arguing with each other on Twitter and remember we’re all rooting for the same team.