Chelsea’s defeat at Leicester was another huge setback for Frank Lampard. The last six weeks have seen five defeats in eight league games with just eight goals in those games.
The pressure is ramping up on Lampard. But what are the pros and cons of keeping Lampard at this stage?
Should Chelsea pull the plug on the managerial tenure of their record goalscorer?
Use of the academy
Frank Lampard’s use of the club’s world-class academy has been the major plus of his tenure at Stamford Bridge. The likes of Mason Mount, Reece James and Tammy Abraham have flourished under Lampard’s guidance.
With Callum Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour waiting in the wings, there is an almost never-ending production line from Cobham. Previous managers have neglected Chelsea’s most outstanding resource.
However, Lampard can be trusted by the club’s hierarchy to look to the academy for talent.
Overall, Lampard has given debuts to seven academy graduates in addition to the minutes to Abraham, Hudson-Odoi and Tomori who had featured before his arrival. The likes of Henry Lawrence, Tino Livramento, Jude Soonsup-Bell and Tino Anjorin are amongst the best of the next crop of youngsters from the academy.
Lampard has given Anjorin minutes, including a start against Krasnodar. Other young players have a genuine sense of belief of a breakthrough with Lampard at the helm.
If one man can be trusted to make full use of Chelsea’s academy, it’s Frank Lampard.
The integration of young players has been the biggest positive from his tenure. It is no guarantee that a potential new manager would utilise the academy in the same way. In fact, no other manager of the Roman Abramovich era has done so.
Lampard’s departure would be seen as a backwards step for the academy.
Poor coaching and lack of a plan
While Frank Lampard’s use of the academy has been his major positive, arguably his biggest weakness has been the inability to coach a real structure into his side. Tactically, Lampard has tinkered on multiple occasions, failing to settle on a defined system and style of play.
The defeat at Leicester was an example of Lampard’s inability to maximise his squad’s potential.
Player for player, it is difficult to argue that the Leicester team is better than Chelsea’s.
However, Brendan Rodgers’ ability to coach a coherent attacking and defensive structure was a stark contrast to a Chelsea side which looked lost, particularly in their attacking build-up.
Lampard’s inability to coach a definitive pattern of attacking play is probably his major flaw.
As a result, the team has often reverted to aimless crosses from deep. Reece James and Ben Chilwell are 5th and 6th in the league for most crosses attempted. It is an indicator of a structural flaw in Chelsea’s attack.
The likes of Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi aren’t impacting the game as much as players of their ability should. The number of attackers out-of-form points to structural problems, as much as just poor form.
While the defence has improved following the arrivals of Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva, there are still vulnerabilities on the counter-attack due to a poorly structured midfield.
Lampard has often failed to right the balance in midfield to the team’s detriment. This is in addition to being unable to find an attacking balance.
The struggles of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz
Frank Lampard’s other major failure in 2020/21 has been the inability to get the best from Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.
Werner’s return of four goals in 19 Premier League games is a disappointing one. The German forward arrived with a huge reputation, yet Lampard hasn’t been able to muster the same form out of his new arrival that prompted him to spend £48m to bring Werner to Stamford Bridge.
Werner’s touch and finishing have both been very poor for a player of his calibre. Lampard has used Werner as a striker and on the wing so far, highlighting the fact that he’s unsure of the German’s best position.
Werner’s struggles haven’t helped Chelsea’s biggest summer signing, £72m man Kai Havertz. Chelsea’s marquee signing has played up front, as a #10, as a winger and as a central midfielder, indicative of lack of tactical direction and confusion as to where the precociously talented German fits into his set up. One league goal is an underwhelming return for Havertz.
The former Bayer Leverkusen star has been blighted by the impacts of contracting COVID-19 just when he looked to be adapting to life in the Premier League. Despite suffering these impacts, Lampard’s continued failing to accommodate Havertz is sure to alarm Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea board.
It looks like the Chelsea tenure of Frank Lampard is hanging by a thread. The issues in coaching along with the inability to extract immediate returns from Chelsea’s two marquee signings have seen hugely inconsistent results at Stamford Bridge.
Worryingly for Lampard, Thomas Tuchel is available and a seemingly obvious fit. It is likely that the next Chelsea manager will be a German speaker, such is the outlay on Havertz and Werner. The clamour at board level to see a return from Havertz and Werner is understandable.
However, the biggest reason that it is time for Frank Lampard to be relieved from Chelsea is the evident flaw in terms of coaching. His team looks poorly organised, particularly in the offensive phase of the game. A squad full of attacking talent has scored more than one goal in just 8/19 league games. Lampard is failing to build a team to maximise the talent at his disposal.
With Tuchel waiting in the wings for an immediate return to football following his departure from Paris Saint-Germain, it is the time for Chelsea to act. The season can still be rescued with Chelsea fighting in three competitions. Home games to Luton, Wolves and Burnley are a perfect opportunity for a replacement to get their feet in the door.
Unfortunately, the Frank Lampard era looks to have not worked out.