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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Lampard Changes Tune as Severity of Situation Dawns on Chelsea

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After the defeats of Chelsea against Arsenal on Boxing Day and Sunday’s to Manchester City, Frank Lampard’s offerings could not have been more different.

But together, they paint a vivid picture of a manager increasingly aware of the situation around him and how quickly matters escalate at a club like Chelsea.

Losing 3-1 to the Gunners prompted perhaps the most public dressing down Lampard has administered on his side since coming into his role at the start of the 2019/20 season.

“I’ll take responsibility on the outside, but the players also have to take responsibility,” he declared, a statement which seemed to drive a wedge between himself and the dressing room.

A week on, a different tact was applied to an identical scoreline, albeit against a City side who produced their most impressive performance of the season.

“I have belief in the group,” he told Sky Sports as part of his debriefing of a fourth defeat in six matches.

“I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m criticising players, I’ll be the first to look at myself today. When I look at the squad, I know that there is an uplift in this team, but I know where we’re at – because I see it, and I know the work it takes to be at the level that Manchester City churned out today.”

Even with the short turnaround from Arsenal into the draw against Aston Villa 48 hours later, Chelsea’s week was set against Lampard’s admonishment of those at his disposal.

To many, this was a shifting of blame from a man who now averages 1.67 points per game, the lowest of any Chelsea manager in the Roman Abramovich era.

Worse, though, has been how those at the club viewed that criticism.

The Independent reports that individual players already doubting Lampard’s capabilities were irritated by the assertion the majority of the blame should lie with them.

It was not the first time he has stated his view that poor performances are down to a lack of adherence to his tactics and messaging rather than issues with the tactics and messages themselves.

Further up the chain, there is frustration at his inability to make the most of new signings Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. While Werner has had opportunities to come good, returning to the line-up as the middle of a front three on Saturday, Havertz is a piece of the puzzle Lampard has yet to fit.

The 21-year old was introduced in the 77th minute, providing an assist for another substitute, Callum Hudson Odoi.

The situation with the two German stars is most fraught given the nature of their acquisitions. Lampard was key to Werner choosing Chelsea over Liverpool, while the £72million forked out to take Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen was at the insistence of Abramovich.

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