Football: Frank Lampard shown the door

 

Football: Frank Lampard shown the door

Since buying Chelsea Football Club in 2003, Roman Abramovich has embedded a culture in which managers must swiftly get results or face the axe, said Jason Burt in The Daily Telegraph. And on Monday, Frank Lampard became that culture’s latest victim: a year and a half into his tenure, he was given his marching orders by the Russian billionaire. The decision wasn’t terribly surprising, said Paul Joyce and Matt Lawton in The Times. Lampard spent £220m in the transfer market last summer, an outlay Abramovich clearly authorised because “he wanted to see Chelsea back in contention for the major trophies”. But having started the season promisingly, briefly topping the Premier League in December, Chelsea’s form dipped precipitously in the past two months. They’ve slid to ninth in the table – well out of contention for even a Champions League place. Such a situation was never likely to be tolerated. Even so, the news was greeted with incredulity in some quarters, said Jordan Seward in the Daily Mail. Gary Lineker tweeted that it was an “utterly ludicrous” decision.

And he was right to say so, said Henry Winter in The Times: this “shameful” dismissal “strikes at the heart of football”. Lampard may have lacked experience as a manager, but he was profoundly committed both to Chelsea FC and to the “long-term project of developing young talent”. It’s lucky that games are being played behind closed doors – otherwise the club’s fans would surely make their anger clear. The likely reality is that Lampard’s tenure at Stamford Bridge was always a “place-holding exercise”, said Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail. He got the job at a time when it was comparatively unappealing, with the club banned from the transfer market. Now, with an expensively assembled squad in place, it makes sense for Abramovich to install a successor, in the form of Thomas Tuchel – who doubtless was “always a plan B figure”.

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