Chelsea brutally sacked club icon Frank Lampard on Monday – a change that was first raised at the start of the season.
The Blues are on the brink of appointing Thomas Tuchel as their new head coach following Lampard’s dismissal on Monday.
Owner Roman Abramovich – as revealed by Sportsmail on Thursday – had grown disgruntled at how his expensively assembled team were underperforming and has now paid the price Lampard.
Frank Lampard was sacked as Chelsea boss on Monday, with the final straw for Roman Abramovich coming after the club’s feeble defeat by Leicester earlier this month (pictured)
The 42-year-old was informed by director Marina Granovskaia on Monday morning, by which time players had already been told their training session had been put back to the afternoon – a clear indication their manager was gone.
News of Lampard’s imminent departure was filtering through to individuals with very close connections to the club on Sunday night.
Former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint Germain boss Tuchel is set to replace Lampard once Chelsea navigate the necessary Covid regulations in order for the German coach to travel to London. Tuchel has already undergone a coronavirus test ahead of his arrival.
Red Bull Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann also had key admirers in the Chelsea boardroom, but it was clear the highly-rated coach would not leave mid-season.
The Blues lost 2-0 to the Foxes at the King Power Stadium, which left Chelsea in ninth
The defeat at Leicester was Lampard’s fifth in eight Premier League games
Having originally wanted to give Lampard an opportunity to turn Chelsea’s season around, last week’s feeble loss to away at Leicester appears to have been the final straw for Abramovich following weeks of disappointing results.
Lampard has the worst points-per-game ratio of any manager in the Abramovich era, a statistic that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Sources have indicated that Abramovich, despite preferring to wait until the summer to make a change when more of his preferred replacements would have been more readily available, accelerated his initial interest in Tuchel immediately after the loss at the King Power Stadium after conceding a new boss had to appointed immediately to save the club’s season.
Indeed, it is understood Tuchel could have been in place prior to the win over Luton on Sunday but Covid travel restrictions meant Lampard was afforded one more game.
But whatever the result against Luton, the decision to eventually replace Lampard with Tuchel was made. The fact Tuchel is available now following his recent sacking form PSG a key factor in his appointment.
Thomas Tuchel, who left PSG in December, is now on the brink of taking over from Lampard
Red Bull Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann also had key admirers in the Chelsea boardroom, but it was clear the highly-rated coach would not leave mid-season
On Monday, Abramovich took the unprecedented step of commenting on the decision to sack Lampard – a man who won 11 major trophies with the club – the first time he has done so when dismissing a manager.
‘This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him,’ the Blues owner.
Lampard’s sacking comes amidst a miserable run that has seen Chelsea win just two of their previous eight Premier League games – a sequence that leaves them in ninth place.
However, Sportsmail can reveal initial plans to replace Lampard were spawned during the summer, with the club sounding out potential candidates to take over from the 42-year-old in anticipation of the season not going to plan.
Lampard, who was hampered by a transfer ban, had just led Chelsea to Champions League qualification and an FA Cup final.
At least one high profile manager with European pedigree was sounded out by Blues representatives last summer.
Owner Roman Abramovich had initially looked to replace Lampard as early as last summer
Lampard fell out with influential Chelsea chief Marina Granovskaia (right) before his sacking
However, an excellent start to the season that saw them lose just once in their opening 19 games saw those initial concerns regarding Lampard’s suitability subside.
But those misgivings have resurfaced in recent weeks, leading to overtures to coaches across Europe, and the club have now acted.
One prominent source described Lampard as a ‘dead man walking’ prior to Chelsea’s win over Fulham 10 days ago – since then it has been a matter of when, not if, Lampard would be sacked.
Much of Chelsea’s dismay stemmed from Lampard’s struggles to get the best out of their costly summer signings – most notably Timo Werner and Kai Havertz.
The club spent £220million on new signings – but, in truth, those new players weren’t necessarily Lampard’s first choices, barring the exception of Ben Chilwell.
Lampard wanted proven Premier League players who knew English football, not a recruitment strategy Chelsea bought into.
There was particularly frustration at the failure to make Declan Rice a priority signing last summer.
Indeed, there is a degree of sympathy with Lampard inside Stamford Bridge given he had very little control over the club’s transfer policy.
Much of Chelsea’s dismay stemmed from Lampard’s struggles to get the best out of their costly summer signings – most notably Timo Werner (left) and Kai Havertz (right)
His man management and coaching style also left a number of players baffled.
One particular incident which saw Lampard offer the squad an optional day off is said to have confused players, who well aware the ploy was a test of their commitment.
His decision to completely ostracise defender Antonio Rudiger, an influential member of the squad, at the start of the season is known to have bewildered players, too.
Lampard, having sidelined the Germany defender, reintegrated Rudiger into his plans during the closing weeks of the season.
But by the end, it was results and concerns that they would fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League that were the main factors behind Lampard’s dismissal.