The good thing for Frank Lampard is that it’s not as bad as the second term of José Mourinho, but that’s the only good news as well.
The 3-1 Manchester City loss on Sunday ensures that Chelsea has taken 26 points out of 17 games this season, which is 50.98 percent of the possible points.
In the 2015/16 season, when he was sacked, Mourinho picked up 31.25% of the points.
But 50.98 is worse than Andre Villas-Boas in terms of recent seasons, worse than Mourinho for the first time, worse than Antonio Conte, worse than Carlo Ancelotti, worse than Maurizio Sarri, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Robert Di Matteo and Claudio Ranieri.
There is a good reason for it, if the corridors of Cobham hiss with intrigue. No Chelsea manager under Roman Abramovich has ever survived such a thing.After Chelsea slump to a narrow loss, Frank Lampard plays down the pressureRead moreIt’s not even close. Of the nine previous managers who started a season under Abramovich, when they were sacked, only Mourinho (II) and Villas-Boas had a record of less than 60%. Lampard made his familiar patience appeal on Sunday. Without ever discussing the 220 million pounds spent, he pointed to last season’s transfer ban, his squad’s youth and the big player turnover in the summer. None of those points are unfair, but after Conte’s side lost 6-0 at Etihad in February 2019, a club that has invested almost a quarter of a billion pounds will definitely expect more than a capitulation that was more meek than any of Chelsea’s teams. In the second half, Lampard spoke of the “character” of his side, and after the substitution of Callum Hudson-Odoi, there was a brief flare-up, but City left the ball in front of exhausted, demotivated opponents for long stretches; they acknowledged the dominance of City.
From a Chelsea point of view, the most troubling thing was that City has not done that to its opponents yet this season – and that this game was as similar as a club with the wealth of City would ever come to be patched together without seven regulars from the first team. How could it be that only one of its last eight was won by a team that stretched its unbeaten streak to 17 games with a draw against Krasnodar a month ago (and that was in a 3-0 victory over West Ham that was not almost as convincing as the result suggests). The answer could not be more complicated than the fixture list.
There are a lot of really strong players at Chelsea and it is always enough to defeat weaker teams.
At home against Sevilla (the away match, a 4-0 victory, was a draw as both teams had already qualified), away from Manchester United and home from Tottenham, each drew 0-0 against opponents who would settle for a point as well. Owing to goalkeeping and defensive concerns, they drew 3-3 against Southampton.
They played impressively through the press against Leeds, but even then, if Ian Poveda had gone down in the box at 2-1, they might have recklessly given away points. The last seven games were much more demanding. It’s clear that, as City’s third goal on Sunday revealed, the old issue of defending from counters has not gone away. Had Rodri not blown a very good headed chance early in the second half, it would have been clear that the other characteristic weakness on crosses was apparent. Last season, Chelsea conceded more goals than in 23 years at any time. The squad has been bolstered by newcomers Édouard Mendy, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell, and it doesn’t seem as vulnerable in the air as before, but structural issues remain.
In this day and age, to talk of a manager not understanding his first eleven seems anachronistic.
Rotation is important and an advantage is the capacity to respond to such circumstances.
But is there any indication at all of a cohesive plan of attack? This season, Timo Werner has played four different positions – a 4-3-3 on the left, a 4-2-3-1, a 3-4-3 through the center and a 4-3-3 as on Sunday; none seem to be much like how he played at RB Leipzig. No one seems to be aware of where Kai Havertz could fit (10 league appearances, five different roles).
If both lack trust and conviction, it may not be shocking. Abramovich might not be as rigid as he was when the difficulties of Mourinho in accommodating Andriy Shevchenko pushed a wedge between owner and manager, but no board would do well