Iwan Roberts: Why the numbers didn't stand up for Lampard at Chelsea
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
There was a big outcry at the beginning of the week when after just 84 games in charge, Chelsea sacked Frank Lampard.
It came the day after Chelsea went through to the next round of the FA Cup after their home win against Luton.
Some people were surprised about the decision to relieve Frank of his duties, but that’s how Chelsea operate, and who’s to argue that they are wrong?
Lampard was the 15th manager Chelsea have employed since Roman Abramovich ploughed his billions into the west London club 18 years ago. Since Abramovich bought the club from former owner Ken Bates, no other club has won more trophies - a total of 17, including five Premier League titles and the Champions League.
Before being given the Chelsea job, Frank had had one season as Derby manager and it makes me laugh a little bit when people go on about what a fantastic job he did at Pride Park. Ok, they finished sixth in that 2018-19 season, but then never turned up in the play-off final, losing to Aston Villa 2-1.
In the 2017-18 season, Gary Rowett was Derby’s manager and his team also finished sixth, but they finished with a better points tally than Frank Lampard’s team, scored more goals and conceded fewer - and Gary didn’t have Mason Mount or Harry Wilson on loan. After losing to Fulham in the semi-final of the play-offs he was sacked!
In his first season at Chelsea, Frank did well, guiding Chelsea to a fourth-place finish in the Premier League and qualifying for this season’s Champions League. They also reached the FA Cup final, losing to Arsenal. It was a bit of a free hit for Lampard. He had lost Chelsea’s best player in Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, and to make matters worse there was a transfer embargo so he was unable to bring in any new players. Instead he gave the likes of Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fiyako Tomori and Billy Gilmour an opportunity, and these young boys did the club proud. In such circumstances, there were lower expectations on Frank’s shoulder.
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However, this season was totally different.
Chelsea spent nearly £230m on strengthening their squad, bringing in a flurry of attacking players, which in turn brings pressure and expectations from the fans and owner.
Last season only Liverpool and Manchester City scored more Premier League goals than Chelsea, but they had the worst defensive record in the top half of the league, conceding the same amount of goals as Brighton, who finished 15th!
This season defensively it’s the same problem all over again, with only Manchester United having conceded more in the top half. Even though they paid nearly £50m to Leicester for Ben Chilwell and brought in 36-year-old Thiago Silva on a free, their defence has still fallen well short of what’s needed.
The point I’m trying to make is maybe Frank and the club would have been better spending a bit more of that £250m on defensive options.
Chelsea don’t mess about - if you’re not winning games your job’s in jeopardy. Look at what happened to Carlo Ancelotti after he delivered them the double in the 2009-10 season and was then sacked the following one.
Former Chelsea player Roberto DI Matteo won the double of the Champions League (only time Chelsea have ever won it) and the FA Cup in 2012, and he was sacked in the November of that year.
When Frank was sacked on Monday he had the lowest PPG total from the last 11 Chelsea managers and only Guus Hiddink in his second spell as Chelsea manager (they you should never go back) and Andre Villas-Boas had a lower win percentage ratio than Frank Lampard.
Short road trip!
On Saturday afternoon I’m hoping to be at The Walks when Wrexham travel down to Norfolk to face Ian Culverhouse’s men.
Kings Lynn sit 19th in the National League, just five points behind Wrexham in 11th. Wrexham, with new their Hollywood owners, have lost three of their last four away games, so maybe this will give the Linnets a good opportunity to win only their second league game in their last seven outings.