Lampard sacking: Tension with Marina, unhappy players and secret job offers

Sacked: Former Chelsea player and coach Frank Lampard. PHOTO/AFP. 

What you need to know:

  • As is usually the case when a manager departs Stamford Bridge, there are many sides to the story.

The buzz around Chelsea before the new season hadn’t been this upbeat for years. Manager Frank Lampard was ready to build on an impressive first year in the job and the club appeared to be backing him with the biggest transfer splurge in their history.

There was talk of a title challenge and Lampard establishing his reputation as one of the brightest emerging coaches in the game. But all was not what it seemed.

“The moment he goes on a bad run of four-five games, Chelsea will decide to make a change,” a prominent source told The Athletic in August. It was hard to believe but spoken with real meaning.

This revelation came when the summer sun was still shining and a ball had yet to be kicked in anger in the Premier League. But the individual couldn’t have been more sure of what was really going on behind the scenes at Chelsea. 

He added: “Lampard won’t last long if there is a serious downturn in form, especially after all the money that’s been spent. He’s in a very precarious situation and I can only see it going one way.”

It has taken several months but the gloomy forecast has now come to fruition. Lampard has gone, the players told this morning that training was being moved ahead of their midweek game against Wolves. 

To many outsiders the speed of the Englishman’s downfall looks like another example of Chelsea being harsh and ruthless – they went top of the table after beating Leeds on December 5.

Lampard’s sacking has long been in the making and The Athletic can now explain what went wrong, including how:

As is usually the case when a manager departs Stamford Bridge, there are many sides to the story.

As 2020 was drawing to a close, Granovskaia had seen and heard enough. Chelsea’s results were in steep decline after one league win in five and the performances of the team were uninspired to say the least. 

She began calling contacts to discuss possible replacements. The hierarchy had wanted to treat Lampard well and give him time to succeed. Now they felt that wasn’t possible.

“Marina said she was considering her strategy, was actively re-planning the managerial situation and would get back to them,” a source reveals. 

“I think they were surprised about that because it was still so early and the managerial market would be better for Chelsea in the summer.” 

Cech had a role to play here, too, in his role as technical and performance advisor, holding informal discussions with agents of key players about Chelsea’s slump in form. He took part in training too, meaning Lampard had the strange situation to manage his long-term friend but knowing the Czech is close to the club’s hierarchy.

To document Lampard’s fallout with Granovskaia, one has to go back to the very start. There has always been a school of thought that Lampard was a useful appointment for the club rather than their ideal one following Maurizio Sarri’s departure in 2019.

Chelsea knew 2019-20 would be tough due to being handed a two-window transfer ban, later reduced to one on appeal, by Fifa for breaching regulations over the signings of foreign players.

The fall of Lampard- The issues

  • Lampard’s relationship with influential director Marina Granovskaia deteriorated.
  • Ralf Rangnick was offered interim job last week for four months but turned it down.
  • Calls were made in recent weeks to sound out Leipzig’s  Julian Nagelsmann.
  • Leicester game was tipping point and morning after spent trying to finalise successor.
  • Lampard shook players’ hands and thanked them for efforts under him after Leicester match.
  • Some players complained about lack of tactical instruction and not being spoken to for months.
  • Desire to re-sign Declan Rice annoyed his bosses.
  • The dressing room felt manager showed no empathy and were hurt by his public criticism.

Roman Abramovich speaks out...

This was a very difficult decision for the Club, not least because I’ve an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I’ve the utmost respect for him. 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.

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