Frank Lampard knows what is expected of him. Ahead of this Premier League season, his second as coach of Chelsea, he said, “I didn’t get the job to fight for fourth place.” He had done well in his first year as coach of his previous football club : Fourth place in the table meant qualifying for the Champions League; Added to this was the entry into the FA Cup final, which Chelsea lost. But now the claim is different. The club has committed additions worth the equivalent of almost 250 million euros and invested significantly more in the squad than the entire competition. “We spent money this summer,” said Lampard, who at 42 is still comparatively inexperienced as a coach – “and now the hard work begins.”
However, after 16 league games, Chelsea is lagging behind. The club of the billionaire Roman Abramowitsch, who wants to play for the championship again in the short to medium term, is in the table below the European Cup places. In between things looked better: Chelsea remained undefeated for nine Premier League games in a row between the end of September and the beginning of December, climbed to third place and after the eleventh match day had only two points less than the then leaders Tottenham Hotspur. But the team has been out of shape since then. She then won only one of five games, once she played a draw and three games were lost. Four out of 15 possible points, that is not enough for the six-time English champion and his notoriously impatient owner.
From Chelsea’s point of view, the 3-1 defeat against the currently staggering London city rivals Arsenal FC on Boxing Day was particularly painful. Lampard was pissed off – and made no secret of it when he publicly questioned the attitudes of some of his players. “Was it tiredness? No, “he said in an interview with the BBC:” Did the players lack character against Arsenal? Yes, and they know it. ”Some would have missed the very basics of football – running and fighting. In the next game against Aston Villa Lampard then switched the team to six positions. Still, Chelsea didn’t get past 1-1 on Monday night. Nevertheless, Lampard said he had seen positive things: “The performance was good. I thought we deserved the win. “
He initially left the two most expensive additions on the bench against Villa: midfielder Kai Havertz moved from Bayer Leverkusen to London for 80 million euros, striker Timo Werner for 53 million from RB Leipzig. Both came into play in the game only 20 minutes before the end and could not change the unsatisfactory draw. Havertz has not returned to his initially solid form since his coronavirus illness in November.
After the embarrassment against Arsenal, Lampard had particularly sharply criticized Werner: “Today Timo gave us too little – with and without the ball.” On the one hand, the coach admitted that the 24-year-old had to be given time to attend to the physically demanding Premier League to accustom. On the other hand, he said that this habituation must now set quickly. In 23 appearances for Chelsea in the league, Champions League and League Cup, Werner scored eight goals and prepared six – not a bad value.
However, he stayed without a goal in the last eleven competitive games and sometimes missed clear chances. Lampard usually uses the German on the left wing instead of in his preferred center of the attack, where he was so successful before moving to Leipzig. “Its lack of effect is not a personal failure,” wrote the Guardian in an analysis, “but a mix-up of positions.”
In general, the pressure on Frank Lampard is growing along with the current form depression. He is popular with the fans, for them the former captain is one of the great heroes of the club. However, his status will hardly protect him from having to justify himself to the less sentimental board hierarchy if success does not take place for a long time. It was not until Tuesday that the “Bild” newspaper wrote that Thomas Tuchel could become an issue at Chelsea after his dismissal at Paris Saint-Germain.
This Sunday (5.30 p.m. on Sky), an opponent, Manchester City, is visiting Stamford Bridge, who is also playing below his possibilities at the moment. “If you lose a few games, things get harder. And the only way to get out of there is to fight and work hard, ”Lampard said last. “It’s my job to fix that again.”