Time is not something normally afforded to Chelsea managers.
Especially those who have spent more than £200million of owner Roman Abramovich’s money.
In the decade prior to Frank Lampard’s appointment, Abramovich has hired and fired eight bosses, with plenty more having fallen by the wayside before that.
And amid a downturn in results, poor performances and big-money signings faltering, Lampard is now at severe risk of becoming the next.
But there is something far more alarming that he needs to address sooner rather than later if he wants to salvage his job.
It must first be said that Lampard should not be getting sacked at this stage of the season.
Chelsea handed him an opportunity at a time when they needed to blood some of their talented youngsters, while under a transfer embargo.
Moreover, with just one season at Derby under his belt, Abramovich should have been fully aware that Lampard would not return Chelsea to the top of English football without hiccups along the way.
Lampard is in effect still learning on the job, and those he is competing with have been doing this for significantly longer.
As Jamie Carragher explained: “Frank went into a top job on the back of 12 months at Derby, the experience isn’t there. He didn’t get the job on the back of being a great manager, he got it because of Chelsea and Frank Lampard.
“How could Frank say no to Chelsea? But he doesn’t have that experience to fall back on, hasn’t learned the ups and downs of management and coaching.”
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Frank Lampard’s team made waves during the summer by splashing over £250million to bring in the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva.
It has given them one of the Premier League’s most potent attacks – but behind them remains a defence that continues to leak goals, with 3-3 draws against West Brom and Southampton already behind them.
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That is perhaps as much Lampard’s problem as it is Abramovich’s. If you can’t handle the heat stay out of the kitchen.
But after Chelsea’s latest defeat to Leicester Lampard defiantly stated he could “handle the pressure”, and he must be given some leeway.
Regardless of whether he is a club legend or not, though, the inexperienced manager will not be saved on reputation alone, and he’s now on limited time to turn things round.
Seven points in their last eight games has seen Chelsea slip to eighth in the table, potentially further if the teams below them win their games in hand, and more crucially, there are little signs of progression from last season.
The form of blockbuster summer signings Timo Werner and Kai Havertz is causing Lampard an even bigger headache, with neither yet justifying even a fraction of their price tags.
But of even bigger concern to Lampard, is that his team just aren’t working for him anymore.
Lampard himself admitted: “The general theme [against Leicester] was slower, more sluggish. It was lacking confidence but also lacking a bit of desire to run.”
That is a worrying trend for any manager.
And this isn’t a new theme. Chelsea were outfought and outworked by Arsenal – who were at the pit of their dismal 10-game run – after which Lampard branded his players “lazy”.
“It’s not tactics or systems, it’s: do you want to run? Do you want to back your teammate up? Do you want to sprint? Or do you want jog? Or maybe you want to say, ‘Oh maybe I don’t have to run’. We took that decision rather than the right one.”
They were then swept aside with ease by Man City who had barely got out of second gear, which offered a clear indication of the gap between his team and a side in serious contention for the title or top four.
And Chelsea were then in some ways fortunate to earn all three points against 10-man Fulham.
If your team aren’t getting the rub of the green, aren’t playing particularly well, aren’t picking up results, those things can be addressed, but bottom line is you have to put the work in.
Against Leicester there was no fight, no hunger. Players shouldn’t need that drilled into them, particularly the elite stars at Lampard’s disposal who’ve been around long enough.
The onus is on them to perform. And not just the likes of Werner – who is clearly going through a rough patch – or Havertz – who is still developing as a player – but even they have played at the top level and are fully aware of the demands.
Some of it could be down to a lack of confidence, and Lampard is certainly not blameless.
It seems without a pre-season and so many new arrivals that he still doesn’t know his best team or the way to get the best out of them.
That’s why we’ve seen him leaning on the likes of Olivier Giroud when not so long ago the striker wasn’t considered part of his first-team plans, as well as more recently Antonio Rudiger, who was also deemed surplus to requirements.
Keeping all the players happy is a seemingly impossible task – made harder by Chelsea’s frivolous transfer strategy – and one that Lampard appears to be drowning under.
The constant chopping and changing of his side is not helping any of his players for continuity, and there is a sense emerging that their faith in him is dwindling as a result.
His regular criticisms of his players are unlikely to have gone down well, which begs the question: have some of them downed tools already?
It’s a little too premature to open up suggestions of him losing the dressing room but, at a club with history for dominant player power, we’re probably not far off that territory.
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Mason Mount is one of only a few players with any shreds of credibility in tact from Chelsea’s recent run, and he admits they are vastly under-performing.
“We have to have a look at ourselves, look at how we played, see where we can improve and come back stronger next game,” he said after the Leicester defeat. “We are disappointed we didn’t win the game. We know we are better than that.”
The test for Lampard is whether he can galvanise his troops again ahead of a tricky run of games which includes the visit of Wolves and a trip to Tottenham, all the while his job is under mounting pressure.
“There are players who are not playing as well as they should be,” Lampard concluded on Tuesday. “They are the only ones who can deal with that.”
Sadly, Frank, they might not want to work for it.