When Frank Lampard was hired by Chelsea in the summer of 2019, he couldn’t sign new players due to a transfer ban. To make things worse, Eden Hazard left for Real Madrid in the same summer. Against all odds, Chelsea finished fourth that season to secure a Champions League berth. Lampard, who was praised for his achievement, was out of a job few months later.
Being a club legend as a player did not prevent the Chelsea board from firing him when results were poor. While some believe he was let go too early, the others were surprised to even see him get the job in the first place. Prior to Stamford Bridge, Lampard had just one year of experience in top flight football – managing Derby County in the Championship.
His inexperience showed in the big matches as the Blues struggled to break down the giants of the game. Notably, Chelsea have won just 15 points from 15 games against fellow ‘big six’ sides since August 2019. They scored 17 goals, but ended up conceding 28 times.
Lampard’s Chelsea attacked their opponents positively, but struggled for the right balance in attack and defence. The lack of identity in their playing style was becoming evident. The league topping spending of £226.1m on several new faces last summer did not help their cause either.
Indeed, it compounded Lampard’s fate, having used 27 players during the season to find the perfect balance. The more Chelsea spent on new players, the more pressure was on the former English international to deliver results quickly.
But, Lampard never truly created an identity for himself at Stamford Bridge. Whenever players took the field, fireworks were expected on both ends of the pitch, making it the ideal clash for neutrals but not so much for Chelsea fans. He further struggled to get the best out of new signings like Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.
Another major issue Lampard was never able to fix at Chelsea was their defensive shortcomings. In the 2019-20 season, the Blues conceded 54 Premier League goals – the highest among the top ten clubs.
In the end, this allowed Manchester United leapfrog Chelsea into the third place despite finishing on same points (66). Even though Chelsea scored three more goals than United, they finished below the Red Devils due to a mediocre goal difference of 15.
Despite a busy summer transfer window, Chelsea still continued to leak goals as Lampard struggled to arrest their defensive fragility. The 1.35 goals per game Chelsea conceded under Lampard’s reign is their worst record in the Premier League, according to OptaJoe.
The club’s struggle to find the right balance between attack and defence was apparent in their points tally. Lampard’s points-per-game average was a disappointing 1.67 – the fourth lowest of any permanent Chelsea manager in the Premier League.
Frequent sacking of managers under Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich should not come as a surprise. Lampard must have known what he was walking into the minute he signed with the Blues. Despite a disappointing ending, the last 18 months would have been nothing short of a learning curve and a step in the right direction for the once favourite son of Chelsea.