A lot can change in 47 days.
When the final whistle went at Stamford Bridge on 5th December, Chelsea were sitting top of the Premier League. A statement 3-1 win over rivals Leeds made it 16 games unbeaten in all competitions for the Blues, showing that they were capable of competing with the best.
Seven weeks, 10 games and a national lockdown later, it could not be more contrary.
Chelsea have since won just three games, falling to five defeats in eight league outings. Sliding down the table at an alarming rate, they now sit in eighth and 11 points off the top. Frank Lampard’s job is at risk to the point that having to sack the club’s greatest ever midfielder looks more like a reality than a nightmare.
The arguments for firing Lampard have grown more convincing by the result. Key players are out of position, results are not coming in and game management is weak. The quality of the players is not a problem, but the management is.
Since beating Leeds, Chelsea lie 13th in the form table, among the likes of relegation candidates Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United. Simply put, it has not been good enough.
Chelsea continue to outdo themselves in producing their worst performance of the season. First it was Everton. Then it was Arsenal. Manchester City and Leicester offered stern competition, but the common theme has not changed: the Blues look spineless.
It is tougher than ever to have faith in Lampard, but that is exactly what Chelsea must do.
Lampard is going through his most challenging period yet as a manager, clearly struggling at the helm of the west Londoners. He knows results has not been good enough and that expectations are high – after all, we are reminded daily of his summer spending spree.
But to sack Frank now goes against everything the club has been building for the last two years.
When Lampard was brought in, the club was at a pivotal point. Slapped with a transfer ban and searching for their ninth manager of the decade, something had to change. Roman Abramovich gave Lampard a three-year contract for a reason, providing the opportunity to build a long-term project at Stamford Bridge.
We have seen the early days of that project, with the integration of academy players combined with the recruitment of top talent. There is so much more to come, but if Lampard was sacked now, we would never see that project come into full fruition. What would then be the point?
If you had to describe Roman Abramovich in one word, it would be cynical. Chelsea gained an infamous reputation for chopping and changing managers whenever things were not going their way, making the SW6 job the biggest risk or reward English football could offer.
In 2021, that is not the Chelsea philosophy anymore.
The fact that Lampard has already been giving time, patience and resources proves that the club’s attitude has shifted. We cannot forget why he was brought in in the first place, and why he was the man trusted for the job even if options were scarce.
Chelsea are fortunate to have found their way out of their old habits, but sacking Lampard will only drag the club back into that toxic cycle.
We witnessed that torrid sequence for decades. A manager would arrive and do well at first, either through strong form or silverware. They would go through a bad patch of form – some longer than others – and when Abramovich ran out of patience, they were gone. A new manager would come in, and the cycle would repeat itself. Again, and again, and again.
The board has seen what happens when you keep faith in a manager. An FA Cup Final and top four finish in Lampard’s first season, despite losing Eden Hazard and unable to bring new players in, was a feat worthy of recognition. Even this season, we have seen what Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are capable of, winning their Champions League group for one.
We know what Lampard can do. He has the perfect selection of players, the potential to grow and the ingredients to win trophies for years to come. This is a testing time for everyone connected to the west London club, but tough times make tough people.
It may seem easy to part ways, leave on good terms and wish the best for the future, but now more than ever, Chelsea must get behind their player, their manager, their legend.
Frank Lampard must stay at Chelsea.
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