Both senior players and new signings were constantly “baffled” by the tactics, or the apparent lack of them. It often seemed to them as if the manager didn’t know what he wanted to do with the team, and had little idea how to fit these new stars in.
It should be noted that some opposition managers in the Premier League thought the same. They didn’t think Chelsea were that difficult to prepare against. Players like Werner or Havertz weren’t usually in positions where they would “really hurt you”.
Lampard had ultimately given little indication he knew how to fix this. That is evidenced by the chopping and changing, the drastic dropping of players, and then sudden returns. The inconsistent use of Callum Hudson-Odoi has been a case in point.
Lampard hasn’t really progressed or learned on the job. Of course, he was supposed to be the manager to help the young players progress and learn. That is always the peril of taking a job like this, as well as – on the other side – appointing an inexperienced manager. The wonder is whether he will come to regret taking it so soon, although few would blame him in the circumstances. Many just blame him for what has happened since, although it is the subject of considerable debate outside the club.
Self-serving as some of Lampard’s public comments on the summer expenditure were, there was a truth in that they had become a “burden” for him. It dramatically changed the squad, and the nature of the job. He was no longer just overseeing a young generation of homegrown talent, a nice image that always felt exaggerated and short-term at a club like this.
The brutal reality is Lampard knew more than anyone what this Chelsea were about. He knew the owner better than most players. He knew the demands, something he constantly referenced.
He just couldn’t live up to them in the short-term, and looked like he needed to still develop as a coach in the long-term. Chelsea were never going to invest in the uncertainty of that.
It should be noted that those same young players still “adored” him. There was a split in the dressing room in that regard, although it did not translate into any actual conflict or arguments. There were just different views on the manager.
Chelsea have now come to a view that had been building for some time.
The decision seems sudden. The thinking behind isn’t. It had been growing for some time.
Lampard was somewhat fortunate to get so much time, given the machinations in place. He might well have been fortunate to get the job in the first place, given his lack of experience, which is where so many problems have come from.
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