Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
After a morning of intense speculation, Chelsea have confirmed the sacking of manager Frank Lampard with former PSG and Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel expected to replace him in the Stamford Bridge hotseat.
Chelsea have lost five of their last eight Premier League games and are struggling to keep pace with their rivals in the race for a top four finish, and though they advanced to the FA Cup’s fifth round with a routine win over Luton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, it wasn’t enough to earn Lampard a reprieve.
German coach Thomas Tuchel has been installed as the odds-on favourite to replace Lampard, with information indicating that he is already lined up and agreeable to the move.
Chelsea’s official statement
In an official statement, released just before midday, Chelsea said: “This has been a very difficult decision, and not one that the owner and the Board have taken lightly.
“We are grateful to Frank for what he has achieved in his time as Head Coach of the Club. However, recent results and performances have not met the Club’s expectations, leaving the Club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement.
“There can never be a good time to part ways with a club legend such as Frank, but after lengthy deliberation and consideration it was decided a change is needed now to give the Club time to improve performances and results this season.”
The club also included a note from owner Roman Abramovich, that read: ““This was a very difficult decision for the Club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him’.
“He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers.
“On behalf of everyone at the Club, the Board and personally, I would like to thank Frank for his work as Head Coach and wish him every success in the future. He is an important icon of this great club and his status here remains undiminished. He will always be warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge.”
Lampard’s promising start at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer Lampard signed a three-year contract at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2019, and despite a transfer embargo restricting his market manoeuvres, the ex-Blues midfielder led his team to a fourth-place Premier League finish and the FA Cup Final, where they eventually lost to London rivals Arsenal.
Despite their Wembley defeat, it was commonly held that Lampard had over-achieved in his first season back at Chelsea, however, a massive transfer spend north of £200m last summer meant that big things were expected of the Blues in 2020/21.
Big spending led to big pressure
Chelsea’s aggressive recruitment drive saw them sign a number of high-profile players during the 2020 summer window, including Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, Edouard Mendy, Thiago Silva, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner.
However, despite some good early signs, including a 17-game unbeaten run in the early exchanges of the campaign, Chelsea’s performances wilted, and a dismal run of just two wins from their last eight Premier League fixtures saw the Blues plummet towards the table’s mid-section.
The limp displays of expensive German duo Kai Havertz and Timo Werner added to Lampard’s burden, and the 42-year-old’s failure to get the best out of either player undoubtedly contributed to his dismissal.
Chelsea to turn to Tuchel?
Numerous reports have already indicated that highly-regarded German coach Thomas Tuchel is in line to replace Lampard.
The former Borussia Dortmund manager is available after leaving Paris Saint-Germain in December, where Tuchel won two Ligue 1 titles a French Cup and reached the Champions League final during a silverware-laden tenure with the French big hitters.
A controversial figure, Tuchel carries a reputation for falling out with his superiors however, and run ins with the hierarchy at Dortmund and PSG reportedly factored towards his sackings at both clubs.
Tuchel working under the autocratic Abramovich at Chelsea has the potential to produce more friction at Stamford Bridge, though the German does possess the kind of super club management experience that Lampard lacked.
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