Thomas Tuchel’s arrival at Chelsea following Frank Lampard’s departure was never going to be an easy win. Taking on the mantle of a club legend was always going to be tough in the eyes of the supporters. So far, the former Paris Saint-Germain boss is undefeated as the Blues’ manager. However, despite that, the jury is still out as to whether the decision to switch management mid-season was a good one.
Clearly, results in the short-term have been good and new manager bounce has seen him gain eight wins and three draws in his first 11 games. By contrast, Lampard suffered through five defeats, four wins and a draw in his last 10. With hindsight, it’s easy to see why the decision was taken to oust the club’s all-time leading goal scorer from the hot-seat. It was a judgement taken with the head, rather than the heart.
The recent run of good form has seen Chelsea jump back into the top four of the Premier League and beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 in their own backyard in the Champions League. If Lampard had stayed, it’s difficult to imagine the Blues being in the same position. The majority of Chelsea fans—this one included—desperately wanted Lampard to succeed. However, as he would have known from the start, Roman Abramovich demands instant results and won’t tolerate his team going into a steady decline.
Did Chelsea make the right decision in firing Lampard in favor of Tuchel?
Initially, that was the case. With Jody Morris and Joe Edwards alongside him, Lampard showed what they could accomplish with little being spent to bolster the squad. Perhaps that first season saw them over achieve, but it also raised the bar and the club’s hopes of what the second difficult term could produce. However, Lampard neglected to take into account Abramovich’s modus operandi and stuck rigidly to his own strategies.
Lampard’s reluctance to change his thinking on player selection and formation hampered the team’s progress as this season wore on. Tuchel has already demonstrated his ability to influence games in real time. Something we’ve seen with Antonio Conte and, of course, Jose Mourinho in the past. Perhaps that’s where a bit of experience behind Lampard may have helped.
Of course, the arrival of Tuchel may have led many to fear that the good work of integrating Chelsea’s exceptional youth players into the senior team may have been lost. Some would argue that has been the case—particularly for Billy Gilmour, and to some extent, Tammy Abraham. However, despite suffering the ignominomy of being subbed off as a substitute, Callum Hudson-Odoi continues to flourish under the German. Mason Mount remains one of the first names on the team sheet. Andreas Christensen looks so much better in a back three. All hope is far from lost.
Given time and patience, more of the youth academy can undoubtedly fulfill their potential, despite Lampard’s departure. Lampard will always be a Chelsea legend with his lasting legacy, for now, being the kick-starting of the Cobham conveyor belt of footballing excellence. Tuchel’s job now is to pick up the baton and run with it.