By Ramsey Gold
When Frank Lampard woke up on Monday, 25th January, a part of him was preparing for the next game week, it was meant to be a home fixture against Wolves, he was probably hoping to build on the cup win over Luton Town, but a phone call came so early and he was asked to a meeting by 8:00am, the signs were ominous.
Like the rush of blood for a six months gone woman, no matter how positive she is, thoughts of miscarriage would fill her troubled mind, Frank Lampard knew his time at Chelsea could be coming to an end, he knew a lot about Roman Abrahamovic, he was never afraid of making changes…
Lampard was part of the team when Claudio Ranieri was shown the exit door despite guiding the Blues to a UCL semifinal loss to Monaco, he was in the team when back to back title winner, Jose Mourinho was fired, he couldn’t do anything to stop Luis Felipe Scolari from being fired and it goes on and on to the one that had his handwriting all over it – the sacking of Andres Villas Boas.
Chelsea director, Marina Granovskaia and the club chairman, Bruce Buck were on hand in the meeting to announce to Lampard that his reigns as the manager had come to an end, his worst fears realized, the legend of Stamford Bridge has fallen, his heart shattered beyond repairs, he became jobless.
While Lampard was still in the ill-fated meeting, news had broken through to the internet, his actions and in-actions after the defeat to Leicester gave lots away, he was said to have gone round the dressing room, shook hands with every player thanking them for their efforts, he knew what was coming.
The players were sent a message on their whatsapp group that their training for the morning had been moved from 10:30am to 2:00pm, curiosity led to speculations and the internet broke with imminent news of the sacking of arguably the best ever player to play for Chelsea.
It’s harsh by all standards, considering the fact that Lampard led them to Europe without spending a dime, promoting academy boys and helping them earn respect, but he got a war-chest, signed lots of players, some expensive to the tune of record smashing with nothing of note to show for it, but was he fired too early?
Making a case for the former West Ham midfielder, Arsenal went on a horrible run, their worst start in several decades, there was not a single time it felt like Mikel Arteta was going to lose his job, bringing up issues of disparity in ambition, or quite simply, a case of disregard for processes.
It must be said, Chelsea is always a team that likes to win, since the big takeover by the Russian billionaire, it has always been about winning, no hard feeling, win and win every time, it doesn’t matter if you won last season, win again or get fired.
When Roberto Di Matteo was fired just few games after leading them to an unlikely UEFA Champions League triumph, after a loss to Juventus, many feared for the conscience of the owner, but the manner in which Di Matteo’s predecessor was asked to leave deserves a mention ahead of that;
Results weren’t happening, Arsenal went to Stamford Bridge and beat Chelsea 5-3, in many games that season, AVB had trusted the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Oriol Romeu and Romelu Lukaku in place of Didier Drogba, John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata in games to the disgust of fans but he was going to pay on this day…
There were rumors across multiple channels that senior players were behind the sacking of Villas Boas, but Frank Lampard was vocal in the news, insinuating that the manager was probably too young and he got the job too soon, flip the coin and insert Lampard wherever you see Villas Boas. Viola!
You’ll feel for Lampard, it was his dream job, after starring for the club he supported as a kid, he went on to become their highest ever goal scorer, and landing the manager job after just a season in management, he was in paradise, crashed to earth now, lowest of lows, where does he go from here?
Where did it go wrong for Lampard? A close source to the team had reported in August that if the team goes on a bad patch of results, the manager’s head would roll especially with respect to how much he spent in the summer, the reality is here and Lampard has to pay.
Should Lampard have turned down the offer? Never! He was rumored to have a lucrative offer from elsewhere at the time the offer from Chelsea came but no way he would say no to his beloved club, he knew what it means to lead Chelsea, he was aware of the thin margin for errors, he knew the antecedent and he very well knew his signing was to placate fans after the sack of Mauricio Sarri.
Lampard’s problem started with the rumored treatment of Kepa Arizabalaga, before then, in the winter window of 2020, Lampard was said to have asked for the trio of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, who at the time was stalling on a new contract at Arsenal, Hakim Ziyech from Ajax who would later join in February when it was too late to affect the season and long term target, Timo Werner, none happened before deadline passed.
The board wanted Lampard to work with Kepa, the manager asked for a replacement and problem emanated from that with the director, Marina Granovskaia, Lampard won the argument after the Spanish goalkeeper failed to impress in the opening two games of the season and he got his man from Rennes, Edouard Mendy.
Lampard wanted Declan Rice, the board denied him and he tried again at the start of the current window, no luck before he was fired, he was told in December to stop pushing for Rice, it was seen as an embarrassment to recall an academy reject for so much a price after the Hammers quoted over 60m for the midfielder, Lampard didn’t heed the warning.
It was however rumored that from the pool of six that joined Chelsea in the summer spending spree, only Ben Chilwell was Lampard’s man, how do you explain that? Lampard wanted to sign James Tarkowski from Burnley and let Fikayo Tomori, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso go, he also didn’t mind to release Ceaser Azpilicueta, in the end all four stayed and the rest is history.
The signing of Kai Havertz would be hot topic as the German playmaker has refused to gel, but was he Lampard’s wish? Timo Werner is struggling too and in the real sense of it, the crack came when the team lost to out of form Arsenal in December and the manager went public with player criticism of players.
Karma or just business? Lampard is gone and Thomas Tuchel is about to take over, life goes on.