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roman's way Frank Lampard must have known Chelsea's owner would never embrace sporting romance

Chelsea chief back to old ways with Lampard axing

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Chelsea great Frank Lampard didn’t receive much in the way of special treatment by owner Roman Abramovich.  Photo: Andy Rain/PA Wire.

Chelsea great Frank Lampard didn’t receive much in the way of special treatment by owner Roman Abramovich. Photo: Andy Rain/PA Wire.

Chelsea great Frank Lampard didn’t receive much in the way of special treatment by owner Roman Abramovich. Photo: Andy Rain/PA Wire.

As Frank Lampard was unveiled as Chelsea manager in the summer of 2019, he must have known he was not the symbol of a new era of change sweeping through the corridors of power at Stamford Bridge.

Having lived most of his sporting life at Chelsea, he knew how this club operated better than most and with that in mind, he would have aware that the fairy tale many Blues fans bought in to was never likely to reach a happy conclusion.

Let your mind wander back to the days when the world seemed a little less terrifying and football fans could pack the stands to welcome home a solid gold hero who had cemented his place in Chelsea folklore long before he kicked his final ball for the club.

Lampard was the club's all-time record goalscorer, an icon who helped Chelsea win 11 major trophies during his 13-year playing career that ensured he commanded the respect of all as he took on his dream job after just one year in management.

Those who gave Lampard a rapturous ovation in his first home game as manager may have bought into the fantasy that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had been seduced by a dose of football romance, with his 'hire-em, fire-em' approach to managers set to be replaced by something a little less brutal.

Lampard's fellow Chelsea legend Petr Cech also arrived as the club's new Sporting Director, with all parties confirming the moment had come to make better use of a youth academy system that had barely produced a first-team success story of note in this century.

Embrace

While many questioned whether the ruthless Abramovich had the temperament to embrace change if Lampard failed to produce instant results, the bigger picture turned out to be hugely significant in how this story would pan out.

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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel chats with Cesar Azpilicueta.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel chats with Cesar Azpilicueta.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel chats with Cesar Azpilicueta.

Lampard inherited the reins of power at Chelsea in a summer when the club was in the midst of a transfer embargo, with the prospect of hiring a more established coach to replace the departed Maurizio Sarri diminished by the debilitating asterisks attached to the job description.

"Would Frank Lampard have got the job if Chelsea didn't have a transfer embargo on them? Probably not," suggests former Blues striker Chris Sutton, who spoke to the Sunday World at a BT Sport event.

"I was delighted to see Frank get the Chelsea job and, even as a Celtic man, I welcomed Steven Gerrard into the job as Rangers manager as well as it was evidence that young English managers can get big jobs.

"Yet the pressure was always going to fall on Frank after the money they spent on Timo Werner and Kai Havertz last summer.

"Frank's target last season was to try to finish in the top four and he did that, as well as getting them to the FA Cup final. That was a decent season.

"Spending money last summer and signing the quality of players they did ensured the pressure was going to be on him this season and he would have known that before a ball was kicked."

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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich says he will direct funds to the fight against racism (Nick Potts/PA)

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich says he will direct funds to the fight against racism (Nick Potts/PA)

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich says he will direct funds to the fight against racism (Nick Potts/PA)

If Abramovich and Chelsea's hierarchy were genuine in their desire to open up a new chapter and give a young manager time to reshape the club's image as more than just a fantasy football game for a billionaire who puts success ahead of sentiment, this was the moment to confirm it.

Instead, Abramovich reverted to Plan A when the first opportunity presented itself. With Lampard's side struggling to find consistency as he hit his first genuinely rocky patch of his tenure as manager, the ejector button was hit again.

There was never a thought that Lampard should be treated differently from those who went before him as Abramovich (inset) doesn't deal in sentiment.

All he could see was a failing employee who had to go and, as has been his policy over the last 18 years, the highest profile available coach was hired to replace him when he brought Thomas Tuchel in as his replacement.

Embargo

The events of the last few days suggest that despite the transfer embargo he was working under, Lampard may well have been fired as Chelsea manager last summer if he had failed to guide his young side to a top-four finish.

Instead, his fate was sealed once Tuchel parted company with Paris Saint-Germain last month, with all the theories that this would be a new Chelsea moving forward made redundant as Lampard was fired last Monday and his replacement was installed.

Only last month, Lampard saw the end of a 17-game unbeaten run that included a spell at the top of the Premier League, with Chelsea's 'mid-table' status likely to change if they can gather momentum in some winnable games in the next few weeks.

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Ex-Blue Chris Sutton

Ex-Blue Chris Sutton

Ex-Blue Chris Sutton

"I felt like Frank proved himself as Chelsea manager last season," said Joe Cole, to the Sunday World last month.

"You might say he didn't have the experience of managing at the top level, but he had the experience of knowing how Chelsea works and that might have been more important for him.

"He understood how the owner operates, how people behind the scenes work and he put all that experience into his first season as manager.

"To finish in the top four and reach the FA Cup final was a good first season and he also changed the way the club operated by bringing through players like Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham.

"Every manager has ups and downs and you just hope that when you have the down periods, the club will back you."

Lampard may have dared to believe his status at Chelsea would have given him a little more protection from Abramovich's formula for dealing with failing managers, but he was mistaken.

Tuchel is the 15th manager hired by Abramovich and he is fully aware that he will get the same treatment as all who have gone before him unless he makes an immediate impression at Stamford Bridge.

Forget new eras and fresh approaches at Chelsea as this club is ruled by an owner who only wants to hear about the fairytales he directs.

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Thomas Tuchel has played down his boyhood affection for Tottenham as just back-garden games (Richard Heathcote/PA)

Thomas Tuchel has played down his boyhood affection for Tottenham as just back-garden games (Richard Heathcote/PA)

Thomas Tuchel has played down his boyhood affection for Tottenham as just back-garden games (Richard Heathcote/PA)

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich added another name to his vast list of managerial appointments this week, as Thomas Tuchel became the 15th head coach he has hired since he took over at Chelsea in 2003.

Stability is not a policy Abramovich believes in and the trophy success he has enjoyed during his reign as Chelsea's chief decision-maker suggests his way is a successful way.

Manchester United and Arsenal have very different approaches, with the two clubs appointing just five managers over the last 35 years, compared to the 22 names that have taken charge of Chelsea during the same period.

Manchester United managers since 1986:

1. Alex Ferguson

2. David Moyes

3. Louis Van Gaal

4. José Mourinho

5. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Arsenal managers since 1986:

1. George Graham

2. Bruce Rioch

3. Arsene Wenger

4. Unai Emery

5. Mikel Arteta

Chelsea managers since 1986:

1. Bobby Campbell

2. Ian Porterfield

3. David Webb

4. Glenn Hoddle

5. Ruud Gullit

6. Gianluca Vialli

7. Claudio Ranieri

8. Jose Mourinho

9. Avram Grant

10. Luiz Felipe Scolari

11. Ray Wilkins

12. Guus Hiddink

13. Carlo Ancelotti

14. Andre Villas-Boas

15. Roberto Di Matteo

16. Rafael Benitez

17. Jose Mourinho

18. Guus Hiddink

19. Maurizio Sarri

20. Antonio Conte

21. Frank Lampard

22. Thomas Tuchel

Factfile

Thomas Tuchel

  • Born: August 29th 1973 in Krumbach, Germany
  • Tuchel failed to make the grade as a player and was forced to call time on his career in the lower leagues of German football at the age of 25 due to a knee injury.
  • He started his coaching career at VfB Stuttgart and went on to impress during spells in charge of Augsburg and Mainz.
  • Tuchel succeeded Jurgen Klopp as Borussia Dortmund head coach in April 2015.
  • n Current Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was a key player for Tuchel as he impressed with Dortmund, winning the German Cup in 2017.
  • In the summer of 2018, he replaced Unai Emery at Paris Saint-Germain and guided the French club to four major trophies and the final of last season's Champions League.
  • Now Tuchel has realised a long-standing ambition to manage in England after accepting the job of succeeding Frank Lampard as Chelsea boss.

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