Chelsea go from bad to worse as lame-duck Frank Lampard struggles to turn the tide
Chelsea have gone from bad to worse under Frank Lampard.
A fifth straight defeat since he took over as caretaker manager has left supporters looking down and genuinely asking: could we get sucked into a relegation battle?
Chelsea are only 10 points above the bottom three, with Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle still to play.
Their total of 39 points should be enough to ensure the unthinkable does not happen but it is difficult to see where their next win comes from and there may yet be further lows in what has been an embarrassing season.
Lampard cannot be blamed for the shambles but this run is doing reputational damage as he seeks a permanent return to management next season.
After an unfortunate own goal from Cesar Azpilicueta had given Brentford the lead, Chelsea were booed off at half-time, with Lampard having tried to emulate the defensive 3-5-2 system he used against Real Madrid last week which left Conor Gallagher up front.
The Blues did improve after bringing on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mykhailo Mudryk at the interval, but Brentford sealed victory late on through substitute Bryan Mbeumo.
Chelsea were loudly booed off again at full-time and Brentford head coach Thomas Frank admitted he had not expected the line-up selected by Lampard.
“Yes, I was [surprised],” said Frank. “I am pleased they showed us respect.”
In their five defeats under Lampard, Chelsea have scored just one goal and conceded nine.
While the decision to bring back a club legend had some logic, it looks like a mistake.
In his defence, Lampard is simply struggling with the same issues faced by Graham Potter.
Every roll of the dice by the owners has caused Chelsea to lose something.
It is clear the team cannot wait for the season to end and the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino cannot come soon enough.
The Argentine is on the brink of agreeing to take over at Stamford Bridge and Wednesday night further highlighted the task facing the incoming head coach.
Lampard being a lame-duck manager is not an easy situation for him to be in.
With six games to go and a wounded Arsenal up next on Tuesday, Chelsea face finishing in the bottom half of the table for the first time in 27 years.
Asked if he had underestimated the size of the job at Chelsea when he agreed to return on a temporary basis, Lampard said: “I don’t know. I’m not concerned about what people on the outside are thinking. I’m here for a reason because results are not what they want.
“I didn’t have a bar of what I thought the task would be and I understood there would be challenges. That’s been clear. I took it on understanding the jeopardy and I’m proud to be here.”
On the boos, Lampard said: “Absolutely, I understand you being worried if you’re a Chelsea fan because you’re used to 20 years of success and you want more. I understand the fans booing, they want us to win. When we win they cheer and when we lose I understand they’re disappointed.”