Opinion

Why Lampard needs more time at Chelsea

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Frank Lampard is the latest head coach in the English Premier League to come under the spotlight. The media in England is never averse to swarming around the next crisis club and Chelsea are the latest candidates.

It was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer until recently but then, suddenly Manchester United started winning games and found themselves level on points at the top of the table with Liverpool and in a title race.  

Then it was, for obvious reasons, Mikel Arteta. On Christmas Day, Arsenal looked to be in a relegation battle but then came three straight wins.

The Gunners are not out of the woods yet in terms of pressure and fan frustrations even if relegation is no longer an issue but a club can’t be in crisis after three straight wins.p 

The first of those wins came against Chelsea on Boxing Day. That loss for the Blues has come in the middle of a dismal run of results with four losses in six games.

The latest came on Sunday when the London team, who looked to be title challengers a month ago, were comprehensively outplayed by Manchester City and lost 3-1.  

Of all the coaches to reach 50 league games under Roman Abramovich, who bought the club in 2003, Lampard has the lowest points per game ratio at 1.67.

The pressure is on and there are already reports of Chelsea looking at a replacement for the 42-year-old with some suitably big names being thrown around.

Naturally so, as this is Chelsea, a trigger-happy club that has never been shy to get rid of coaches, even those who have a track record that the former midfielder does not.  

But that was kind of the point and one reason why it is not the time to get rid of Lampard. He was a different kind of appointment for the club and owner Roman Abramovich.

After a succession of elite coaches who have come and gone through the revolving doors at Stamford Bridge, Lampard’s arrival signaled a change of direction. 

The former England international doesn’t have the trophies under his belt but he was a club legend just starting out on his career.

This does not mean that he is going to be a top-class coach but it does mean that if you make such a choice then he has to be given time.  

He is not an Ancelotti or Hiddink who can come with decades of experience at the top-level, deliver trophies immediately and then leave.

He came from a second-tier side in Derby County and his selling point is that he played for Chelsea for years and is one of the best players the club has ever had.

You don’t hire such a coach and then fire him after a few bad results. Lampard needs time, to not give it to him undermines the very reason for giving him the job in the first place. 

But there is another reason. Lampard, this present wobble excepted, has not performed too badly at all.

It is true that he spent around $350 million on new players in the summer on signings but it is not easy to gel so many new players in a short time as more experienced coaches have found. This season is especially tough.

The Covid situation has games coming thick and fast and there is not much time available on the training pitch. 

Earlier in the season, Chelsea dropped points partly because goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was struggling between the sticks.

The addition of Edouard Mendy in early October was a turning point and the Senegalese stopper conceded just twice in the next seven games and the club strolled through the group stage of the Champions League in impressive fashion. 

When looked at the season overall, Chelsea have, even if results have dipped lately, been pretty decent. In fact, in terms of expected goals, not only do the 2012 European champions have the second-highest in the league, they are topping the table in terms of expected points.

Lampard and Chelsea are going through a wobble but there is no reason to rush back into the old days of hiring and firing.

Source SBS The World Game