Frank Lampard’s time as Chelsea football club head coach came to an abrupt end Monday, when the Stamford Bridge-based club announced his contract had been terminated.
Lampard, a Chelsea legend who spent 13 years with the club, scoring 211 goals from midfield to establish himself as Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer, became the club’s manager in 2019, amidst their struggle, with a three-year contract.
His time at the helm however, was riddled with a lot of woeful performances that got both the club’s management and fans yearning for change. Now the club says it’s time they parted ways.
“This has been a very difficult decision, and not one that the owner and the board have taken lightly. We are grateful to Frank for what he has achieved in his time as head coach of the club.
“However, recent results and performances have not met the club’s expectations, leaving the club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement.
“There can never be a good time to part ways with a club legend such as Frank, but after lengthy deliberation and consideration it was decided a change is needed now to give the club time to improve performances and results this season,” Chelsea said in an official statement.
Chelsea’s owner Ramon Abramovich for the first time, made a personal statement about a coach departure in the case of Lampard, describing him as a “man of integrity.”
“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.
“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,” he said.
The news of Lampard’s sack came shocking to many who described it as premature and had expected that he’d been given more time to build a team.
“The more I think about Frank Lampard’s sacking, the angrier it makes me feel. You won’t meet a more genuine decent bloke in world football, or anyone more deserving of being given enough time to be a success at Chelsea. Pathetic that he’s been kicked out after just 18 months,” Good Morning Britain co host, piers Morgan said.
For the 84 matches Chelsea played during his 18 months period as manager, Lampard won 44, drew 17 and lost 23 to put his win record at 52.4 percent. He also steered the club to a fourth-placed finish last season and also to FA Cup final.
With this record, many have the opinion that he should have been allowed more time to lead the team to favorable results. His iconic status in his playing days at the club enabled divided feelings about his sack among Chelsea fans.
On Sunday, a banner was raised in support of the former midfielder amidst the sack rumors. The social media has been agog about Chelsea’s decision to prematurely axe Lampard, with fans and football analysts condemning the decision.
Gary Lineker slammed Chelsea on Twitter, calling the decision “utterly ludicrous” after his first bad run. “It was always going to need time given so many new signings feeling their way into a new club. Patience being a virtue is seldom recognized in this sport. They never learn,” he said.
Chelsea has a pedigree of impatience with coaches. Since 2013 when Abramovich took over, the club has sacked 10 managers including Lampard. But some of the fans think Lampard deserves better and the decision was too hasty.
“Hearing Lampard is getting sacked is actually a disgrace, why now that he is trying to get the team to play together? Shame on Chelsea board,” an angry fan wrote.
Another one added: “I am really disgusted by the Chelsea board, none of which have done more for the club than Lampard. You don’t give him a chance to say goodbye properly as a player, you don’t give him a testimonial, shame on you.”
The decision to sack Lampard is believed to have stemmed from issues beyond losing five of his last eight Premier League matches. There was a report that his relationship with the club’s influential director, Marina Granovskaia had deteriorated over the manager’s treatment of goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, a £72 million signing who was dropped as first choice due to his continuous errors.
It was also reported that senior players in the club, including Kepa were dissatisfied over how Lampard approached games. The dissatisfaction came from the claim that the manager always told the players to ‘go out and express themselves’ rather than take to the pitch with clear instructions or direction.
There is also the belief that the Chelsea board has ever wanted the new manager, Thomas Tuchel, who the club announced on Tuesday as Lampard’s replacement, to coach the club. Chelsea has for years touted Tuchel while he was engaged with other clubs, but were warned off. The German’s dismissal from PSG in December appeared to have presented the English club with the opportunity to secure his services.
Liverpool’s manager Jurgen klopp also said Chelsea made a “harsh” decision axing Lampard, but it’s Tuchel who has been given a present in the team.
“That was a really tough one. Chelsea did an incredible job in the transfer market this summer, brought in really good players, and things like this always need time. It’s really harsh to make a decision that early. Obviously Mr. gives you money and players but is not the most patient in the world.
“But for Thomas Tuchel it’s great. Unfortunately, he’s a really good manager. I have known him a long time and respect him a lot. This Chelsea squad is a present. I’m pretty sure Thomas sees it like that too,” Klopp said.
Lampard enjoyed £230 million market spending, which delivered a young fresh team to Chelsea. Although Tuchel has built a pleasant reputation in his managerial career, many believe the new team will ease his job at Chelsea.
Whether Chelsea made the right call or not sacking Lampard, is a question only time will answer.