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January 26, 2021

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Slumping Chelsea fires Lampard

Frank Lampard was fired by Chelsea yesterday halfway through his second season in charge after being unable to replicate his success as the club’s record scorer in his first English Premier League managerial job.

Chelsea has lost five of its last eight EPL games and dropped to ninth place, despite Lampard benefiting from nearly US$300 million spent on new players for this season.

Chelsea said the performances had “not met expectations” and left the team “without any clear path to sustained improvement” — making a change of managers necessary with former Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel set to be hired.

Reflecting Lampard’s standing at the west London club, the firing after 18 months in the post was announced in a rare statement by owner Roman Abramovich.

“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,” Abramovich said. “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.

“On behalf of everyone at the club, the board and personally, I would like to thank Frank for his work as head coach and wish him every success in the future. He is an important icon of this great club and his status here remains undiminished. He will always be warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge.”

The 42-year-old Lampard leaves with the lowest points-per-game record of the dozen managers since Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

As the pressure has grown, the cracks were showing ahead of Sunday’s English FA Cup win over Luton Town, when Lampard hit out at perceived negative coverage of the team.

But his own shortcomings of a fledging coaching career were being exposed and sentimentality counted for little despite being instrumental to the trophy-laden revival of the club as a player since the takeover by Abramovich.

Chelsea brought back its midfield great as coach in 2019 despite him having only a single season’s experience in management in the second division with Derby.

He achieved UEFA Champions League qualification in his first season by securing a fourth-place EPL finish. The rush to dismiss Lampard is indicative of the impatience shown by Abramovich, particularly when the team is slipping away from the UCL spots.

Getting the best out of expensive squad reinforcements proved beyond Lampard — particularly Germany forward Timo Werner, the headline signing of the summer transfer window spending spree. Since November 14, the only goal he has scored in all competitions for Chelsea was a tap-in against fourth-division club Morecambe in the FA Cup and he missed a penalty against another lower-league side — Luton.

After securing one of the biggest jobs in English management so early in his coaching career, Lampard leaves Stamford Bridge without any success having lost the 2020 FA Cup final to Arsenal.

Lampard is a Chelsea great after scoring 211 goals from central midfield from 2001-14, during which he won every major honor at the club including three EPL titles and the UCL. He was associated with some of the best moments in the club’s history and admired for his work ethic and making the most of his talent.

Next in the dugout at Stamford Bridge is set to be Tuchel, Sky’s German sports channel first reported.

It would be a swift return to coaching for the German less than a month after being fired by PSG following a power struggle with the Qatari ownership.

Tuchel is only five years older than Lampard but vastly more experienced in coaching having being forced to retire from playing at 24 due to injury.

Tuchel made a name for himself in Germany by showing faith in young players during a five-year stint with unheralded Mainz. In 2009, he was promoted to take charge of the Mainz first team after just one year in charge of the youth side, and quickly promoted young talent.

He lasted only 2 years at Borussia Dortmund before being fired despite winning the German Cup after falling out with officials — just as he would do at PSG.




 

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