Chelsea sack Frank Lampard: legendary status not enough to save him
Roman Abramovich wields the axe and appoints Thomas Tuchel as the new head coach
As the saying goes, “football is a results business” - and for Frank Lampard the performances of his Chelsea team were just not good enough.
After weeks of speculation, it was announced on Monday that Lampard had been sacked after 18 months in charge. A legend from his playing days at Stamford Bridge, Lampard departs with the team sitting ninth in the Premier League table, 11 points behind leaders Manchester United.
Despite a 3-1 victory over Luton Town in the FA Cup on Sunday, Lampard’s future was decided after an alarming run of form which saw the Blues win just two of their last eight Premier League games.
Chelsea said it was a “difficult decision” to sack the 42-year-old and “not one that the owner and the board have taken lightly”. A club statement said: “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.”
Abramovich axe falls on club legend
In his 13 years as a Chelsea player Lampard became the club’s all-time leading goalscorer with 211 goals in all competitions. He also won a host of trophies including three Premier League titles and the Uefa Champions League.
Despite Lampard’s standing as a club icon, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich believed it was “best to change managers” now.
“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.
“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.”
Since Abramovich became owner of Chelsea in 2003, Lampard was the 12th manager to have been in charge. Previous managers were Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho (twice), Avram Grant, Luis Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink (twice), Carlo Ancelotti, Andres Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo, Rafa Benitez, Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri.
Abramovich is “not inclined toward mercy when it comes to underperforming managers”, ESPN says, and Lampard averaged just 1.67 points per game in the league, the “worst of any coach” in the Abramovich era.
Tuchel takes over
On Tuesday Chelsea confirmed Thomas Tuchel as Lampard’s replacement. The German, who was formerly in charge of Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund, has signed an 18-month contract at Stamford Bridge with the possibility of an extension.
In an interview for the club’s website Tuchel said: “I would like to thank Chelsea FC for their confidence in me and my staff. We all have the greatest respect for Frank Lampard’s work and the legacy he created at Chelsea. At the same time, I cannot wait to meet my new team and compete in the most exciting league in football. I am grateful to now be part of the Chelsea family - it feels amazing!”
Director Marina Granovskaia added: “It is never easy to change head coach in the middle of the season but we are very happy to secure one of Europe’s best coaches in Thomas Tuchel. There is still much to play for and much to achieve, this season and beyond. We welcome Thomas to the club.”