“In Frank we trust,” read a banner at Stamford Bridge during Sunday’s FA Cup win over Luton
When Frank Lampard was appointed Chelsea manager in July 2019, many wondered whether this was evidence of a new and previously undetected sentimental streak in the club’s ruthless owner Roman Abramovich.
Lampard, who succeeded the unloved Maurizio Sarri, was a departure from Abramovich’s traditional template of hiring experienced, or at least very successful, managers.
This was the appointment of someone with raw potential who just happened to be a Chelsea legend as the club’s all-time record goalscorer, with a tally of 211, accompanied by 11 major trophies.
It qualified as a gamble, almost a shot in the dark, by Abramovich’s usual strategy. It was certainly a step into the unknown by Chelsea’s standards.
Lampard had been a manager for one season at Derby County, missing out in the Championship play-offs – or as those questioning his credentials for such a huge job pointed out, he had taken the Rams from sixth on arrival to sixth at departure.
Any notions that Abramovich had suddenly got romantic or sentimental, or would offer Lampard mates’ rates based on past history after a poor run of five defeats in eight Premier League games, were swept away in brutal fashion when he was unceremoniously sacked on Monday morning.
Abramovich does not do romance or sentiment. He does reality of a very cold kind and while he would have wanted the perfect ending for a man he respects greatly, Lampard was operating within the same boundaries as all of the Russian’s previous managers.
Chelsea’s statement, while outlining Lampard’s iconic status and even containing rare comment from Abramovich himself, did not mince its words about why the decision had been taken, saying the club had been left “in mid-table without any path to sustained improvement”.
And with that, Lampard was gone. Sacked by lunchtime on Monday.
Chelsea’s loss to Leicester was Lampard’s fifth defeat in his last eight Premier League…