If this was Frank Lampard’s last match as Chelsea manager, his players threw him a pretty awful going-away party.
The Blues were out-worked and out-classed by table-topping Leicester City on Tuesday at the King Power Stadium, precious few bright spots dotting the Chelsea XI at any given time.
Credit to Antonio Rudiger, Christian Pulisic, and Mason Mount for working hard, but that’s a low, sad bar that most of their eighth-placed teammates failed to clear at midweek.
“If you go pound-for-pound, player-for-player, they were better than us,” Lampard said on NBCSN after the game. “Sometimes it comes down to you against your man and we lost individual battles all over the pitch. We have to improve because where we were, two points off the lead, we’re not there.”
And they might have a new boss soon, reports last night claiming that owner Roman Abramovich was ready to pull the plug on Lampard’s tenure as Chelsea boss with a loss on Tuesday.
And friend, that was a loss.
“The basics and the bare minimums are to run, to sprint, and to cover ground and too many of our players didn’t do it,” Lampard said. “I know Leicester are a very good team but the basics of the game off the ball are important. Our game on the ball was okay at times, a bit slow. …
“It’s a small step back clearly. Yeah, I’m worried. From the form that we’re in to get so quickly to the form that we’re now in. We should be better than five losses in eight. That’s not where we want to be. It takes character. I’m not against the lads in the dressing room because they’re disappointed. We were that team last month, flying against Leeds. It’s a big lesson to the lads.”
Chelsea gets Luton Town in the FA Cup before hosting Wolves and Burnley. With Spurs after that before Sheffield United and Newcastle, there are a lot of points there.
If Abramovich wants Lampard around at all, letting him stay should mean wins. If he doesn’t, he can give his new manager a nice runway.
“I wouldn’t say they are letting me down because that’s not my job to say that to you. There are players who are not playing as well as they should be,” Lampard said in the post-match media session. “Simple fact. That was clear tonight. I was a player for 20 years. When your form’s not good, there can be a multitude of reasons why confidence drops. There are things you can deal with in front of you – how you work in training, how you prepare – and there for sure are players like that.”
Lampard was asked whether his club is lacking leadership due to changes in his squad, at least compared to when he played.
“It’s not for me to compare. It’s a fact of where we are. If you look at the composition of the squad, players from other leagues, players in the Championship just a season or two ago, you’re asking a lot for them to become prime John Terry overnight.”
🗣 "The bare minimums are to run, to sprint, to cover ground and too many of our player didn't do it."
Frank Lampard criticises his Chelsea players for not doing the basics pic.twitter.com/pq3a7bLEdk
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 19, 2021