Although able to explain his Blues side’s drastic decline, manager Frank Lampard has proven incapable of arresting it, with Chelsea’s lame 2-0 loss to an all-too formidable Leicester City on Tuesday night quite likely to spell the end of the former midfielder’s tenure in charge.
Club icon or not, it is incumbent upon Lampard to show clear signs of his squad having gone through sufficient improvements this season in order convince owner Roman Abramovich that the former Chelsea ace is indeed the right man to elevate the status at Stamford Bridge again.
In all fairness, this isn’t too unreasonable an expectation to ask for a club of this status. After all, the manager has at his disposal arguably the world’s best academy and was also availed a warchest of £220 million to spend in the transfer market on exciting talents like Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech.
For Lampard, that spending spree – supposedly a reward for his Blues qualifying for this season’s Champions League despite being hindered by a transfer ban ahead of the 2019-20 campaign – has now become a sword that cuts both ways. Lampard is now a man under intense pressure, a fact he is only too well aware of.
Only be 18 months into the job, Lampard’s rhetoric has changed dramatically of late, pleading for patience and imploring fans to readjust their expectations. With the deadline that will see a regalvanised, restructured Chelsea start challenging seriously, and with consistency, for major titles again being pushed further and further back every time the Blues boss speaks.
Unfortunately, such passive rhetoric does not equate to sweet music to the ears of the demanding Abramovich, as few managers are afforded more than two years to succeed there.
Jurgen Klopp, on the other hand, was given plenty of time at Anfield to get his act together, which of course he duly accomplished in what has become a blueprint for success at a failing super club, although he had to go through eighth, fourth and fourth season-ending placings again before finally producing a team capable of winning the title in his fourth full season.
Unlike Lampard, Klopp has the prerequisite CV to justify such a show of faith from his employers in giving him the time he needed. The journey, albeit taking a bit more time than expected with finals lost along the way, was a positive reflection that Liverpool were moving in the right direction all the while. To Klopp’s benefit, every single person at the club believed in the manager from Dortmund.
Again, it is not within reason for Chelsea to follow a similar path of success as they already have faith in their behind-the-scenes structures firmly in place, from their great academy to their recent recruitment being more successful than ever.
Yet understandably doubts are now arising over Lampard’s ability and capability to lead his charges. The owner and his board are trying to exercise patience with their man yet he has been unable of late to coax the kind of performance they need to win consistently, instead producing the kind of woeful loss dished out by a Leicester side clearly superior to Chelsea’s in all departments. Which makes it all that much more difficult for a hard-nosed owner like Abramovich not known for being soft on managers who are on a losing streak.
Losing to Leicester isn’t in any way a humiliation in itself as they are now top of the league after all. It is the manner of the victories conceded to top opposition that’s a maor cause for concern.
Chelsea have yeet to beat a team in the top six this season, having drawn 0-0 with Manchester United and Tottenham, and lost to Everton, Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester City. And adding insult to injury, some of these big sides have even managed to toy with Chelsea, with Brendan Rodger’s indomitable squad being one of the latest teams to cruise easily to victory over Lampard’s finicky side.
And as if to drive another nail into the casket, the stats are spiking the wrong way. Aside from the season when they finished 10th, Chelsea now have their lowest points total after 19 games since Abramovich assumed ownership of the club. To exacerbate matters for the Blues manager, he also has the worst away defensive league record of any Chelsea manager since the Premier League began in 1992.
If at all there is a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel, the only positive is that amid such a poor run, the Blues remain only nine points off the top of the table – but despite that being said, they are in the company of a host of teams with games in hand ahead of them as they sit in eighth place.
Can Chelsea can turn the nightmare around? Perhaps that might be easier achieved with a new manager? Thomas Tuchel, Julian Nagelsmann, Ralph Hassenhuttl, Max Allegri or even Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers?
After all, some are already angling for the Chelsea legend’s hot seat at Stamford Bridge.
A Chelsea legend Lampard will always be. But will he remain the manager we have yet to see.