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‘I have full appreciation to Roman’: Axed Chelsea legend Frank Lampard has no regrets over his reign despite sacking by Abramovich

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Former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard says that it would have been naive for him to expect to be treated differently to other Chelsea managers after the club legend was sacked in January amid an extended run of poor form.

Lampard got the call in late January which stated that his services were no longer required at the club where he had won the Champions League and numerous league titles as a player.

He was brought in to steady the ship at Stamford Bridge after just a season’s experience as a manager with Championship outfit Derby County at a time when Chelsea’s immediate future seemed unclear: they were in the midst of a transfer ban which was complicated further by the departure of star player Eden Hazard to Real Madrid, forcing Lampard to look towards the club’s expensive but, until that point, at least, underperforming academy. 

He oversaw the integration into the first team squad of Mason Mount – recently announced as Chelsea’s first English Player of the Year since 2006 – Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and others, handing the team infamous for its foreign imports a sturdy, homegrown spine.

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Additional focus was placed on Lampard’s regime when he had money to spend – and spend he did. In came the likes of highly-rated German duo Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, as well as England full-back Ben Chilwell. The experienced Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy were drafted in to put a band-aid over Chelsea’s porous backline. 

And it worked for a while. At one point in November, Chelsea were in the middle of an extended unbeaten streak and had risen to the summit of the Premier League.

But then, to some extent, the wheels fell off Lampard’s Chelsea and they spluttered into 2021 absent of any form, with the likes of Werner and Havertz failing to make the type of impacts that their eye-watering transfer fees demanded.

When the news arrived that Lampard had been told his services were no longer required, it came in tandem with a heartfelt message from owner Abramovich which highlighted Lampard’s impact on Chelsea over the previous two decades, and how his efforts will go down in club history – a variation of the pink slip rarely offered to an outgoing Chelsea manager.

“I loved that,” Lampard told the Daily Mail of Abramovich’s message.

I could never sit here and say I have anything but appreciation for what he did for my career. I was disappointed because I felt we could change things. I saw games coming up as opportunities to get points. 

Your pride takes a hit, there is no doubt about it. That’s human. But with reflection, I would have been absolutely naive to think it would be any different for myself than it had been for managers in the past. 

History says Chelsea make changes and sometimes they have real success off the back of it. It was never for me to go against their model. I have full appreciation to Roman for the opportunity. I can only look forward.

According to reports, Lampard is indeed looking forward – and might well be back in Premier League management if rumors that he is in line to replace ex-England boss Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace are to be believed.

Lampard says that a host of managers – Hodgson included – made contact after he was let go in January to remind him that being sacked is a natural element of football management.

All of them, first and foremost, said: ‘You’re not a manager until you’ve been sacked.’ It was a hit, but then I started the reflection process. I didn’t want to sit at home and throw blame elsewhere. It was more: ‘What can I do better?’ 

Roy Hodgson was amazing. I spoke to Roy a week after leaving Chelsea and he gave me some of the best calm, collected advice. I’m always willing to listen to these managers.”

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The man picked to replace Lampard at Stamford Bridge, Thomas Tuchel, is one game away from delivering a Champions League to Chelsea, just as Lampard did as a player and captain in Munich in 2012. Lampard admits he likes what he has seen from his successor. 

I sent him a message the day he got the job,” said Lampard. “I felt it was the right thing to do. It is what it is. I remember coming into the training ground a month before and people were talking about how he had left PSG.

“That’s football. So I sent him a message and he nicely sent me one back. People at Chelsea tell me he’s a top bloke, and he’s done some really positive things with the team.

When Lampard returns to management, be it at Crystal Palace or elsewhere, he says he will relish once again being back in the thick of it.

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What I wake up with every day is: ‘I want to work again.’ I love the idea of trying to improve individuals or a squad. I’ve become addicted to that.

“From the minute I stepped in at Derby to this minute now, it’s something I feel compelled to do.

I want to manage a huge club again and I want to manage it to success. Everyone knows how I feel about Chelsea and that will never change.

“But there may be other opportunities along the way, another pathway – so we’ll see.”

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