The sacking of Frank Lampard was a tough pill to swallow for everyone connected with Chelsea. The fact that Roman Abramovich himself made a statement regarding the news speaks volumes. Everything was quick and now Chelsea will be looking forward to an exciting time under German Thomas Tuchel.
Points can be made on either side of the argument. Whether it was harsh and more time could have been given or it was inevitable. Of course, there were those comparisons with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mikel Arteta. Both had stages where it seemed like they were on the brink of a sack. But their respective boards stood by them and there have changes to the fortunes of Manchester United and Arsenal.
One point worth noting is the effort. How Solskjaer and Arteta tried to turn the fortunes as compared to Lampard. Of course, none of them had to do with a squad that had six new signings. But they tried to find what was best for the squad they had. Arteta’s current starting XI look very different from the one he used in the first league match. He had no issue in dropping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. While Solskjaer tried to make his squad the players who were performing exceptionally well in terms of output that reflects in the scorecard.
Unlike the 2019-20 season, Lampard’s team lacked such aspects this season. He never tried to tweak the formation. He refused to start players like Callum Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour despite their standout performances. Lampard last season had no issue in starting young Scottish teenager Gilmour in the premier league against Everton on the back of his performance in the FA Cup against Liverpool.
To be fair, one glance at Chelsea’s performance from the start of the season against Brighton to Lampard’s last premier league match at the helm against Leicester City can make one think whether there was any improvement. Sure, Chelsea was flying so much so that they led the table in between. But their performance only looked different based on opponents. Since the away trip to Everton, none of the opponents looked like struggling against the blues.
The two matches Chelsea won in that time frame were against West Ham and Fulham. Between the first and second goals, West Ham was in total control and it seemed they could score any time. The final result didn’t tell the actual story of the match. Lampard’s team barely scraped through with a one-nil win over 10 men Fulham.
If the reports are to be believed, players complained about no tactical instructions from Lampard. There was no sign of anything going in the right direction. To make it even worse, Lampard dropped the center back who was playing well in Zouma for Rudiger who was making mistake after mistake or a year or so. Decisions like those were hard to ignore.
Chelsea is still in the FA Cup and Champions League. The top four can still be achieved. If the season had to be saved, a change was inevitable and the board had to make the tough decision. Lampard can still be proud of his first season in charge of Chelsea. Most importantly, the successful youth integration he did was something everyone involved with the club wanted to see for a long time.