It seemed inevitable, but it was still a surprise to hear this morning that Chelsea have sacked manager Frank Lampard after 18 months in charge, with former Paris St-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel expected to replace him.
Club legend Lampard, leaves with the club ninth in the Premier League after last week’s defeat at Leicester City, having won once in their past five league matches. But with an unusually congested table, a small winning streak could see Chelsea vault back into the top four.
Lampard was appointed on a three-year contract when he replaced Maurizio Sarri at Stamford Bridge in July 2019. The former Chelsea midfielder guided them to fourth place and the FA Cup final in his first season in charge, and a 3-1 win against Leeds in early December put the club top of the Premier League.
However, the Blues have suffered five defeats in their past eight league games, as many as they had in their previous 23.
In a statement, Chelsea said:
“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.”
Owner Roman Abramovich said Lampard’s status as an “important icon” of the club “remains undiminished” despite his dismissal.
“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,” said Abramovich.
“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.”
Chelsea spent more money than anyone in Europe this past summer, more than £200m on seven major signings last summer, including £45m on Leicester’s Ben Chilwell and £71m on midfielder Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen.
Telling though is that Chelsea did not recruit in the one area that Lampard wanted, which was in center defense. Lamps wanted a dominating center-back, a la John Terry, but Marina Granovskaia had other ideas.
Having finished with 66 points last season after 20 wins and 12 defeats, Chelsea have lost six times in their opening 19 league games this season.
Lampard’s points-per-game average of 1.67 is the lowest of any permanent Chelsea manager in the Premier League. During the Abramovich era, only Andre Villas-Boas (47.5%) has a worse win rate than Lampard’s 52.4%, in all competitions among permanent Chelsea bosses.
In contrast, Jose Mourinho’s win rate in all competitions during his first spell in charge was 67.03%, while Sarri, Antonio Conte, Avram Grant, Carlo Ancelotti and Claudio Ranieri all had win rates over 60%.