Chelsea have sacked head coach Frank Lampard after a run of five defeats from eight Premier League games.
Owner Roman Abramovich described the decision as “very difficult” and conceded it was a move not taken lightly by the club, with the PA news agency understanding Thomas Tuchel is set to replace the 42-year-old.
Lampard guided the Blues into the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday with a 3-1 win over Luton, but has paid the price for a poor run in the league after £220million was spent on new additions in the summer transfer window.
Chelsea Football Club has today parted company with Head Coach Frank Lampard.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 25, 2021
Abramovich said: “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.”
Tuchel only became available a month ago when he left Paris St Germain, less than five months after taking them to the Champions League final, which they lost to Bayern Munich.
The 47-year-old won back-to-back league titles with PSG, but that was not enough to satisfy the club’s ambitious owners who replaced him with Mauricio Pochettino.
Prior to PSG, Tuchel impressed at Borussia Dortmund, having started his managerial career with Augsburg and then Mainz.
Lampard is Chelsea’s record goalscorer and won three Premier League titles during his glittering playing career at Stamford Bridge, as well as the Champions and Europa Leagues and other domestic honours.
Abramovich added: “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.”
A club statement added: “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.”
Lampard is the 10th manager to be sacked by Abramovich since the Russian took control of the club in 2003.
When given the job after only one season at Derby, experience was always against him but he was able to negotiate a transfer ban in his first campaign and guide the team to a fourth-placed finish as well as an FA Cup final.
Defeat to Arsenal at Wembley in August was followed by a 7-1 aggregate thrashing to eventual Champions League winners Bayern and it convinced the Blues board cash needed to be splashed.
Ben Chilwell and Kai Havertz arrived for big fees following the earlier signings of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, but arguably only Ziyech has justified his price tag so far with Chelsea ninth in the table.
The form of the two German attackers eventually proved part of Lampard’s undoing with a run of five defeats from eight leagues games forcing Abramovich’s hand.
Before the decision and ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup tie with Luton, the former England international hit out at at a perceived lack of objectivity across some recent reporting on the club and insisted he blocked out noise on his future.
But now, 18 months into a three-year deal at Stamford Bridge and with a win percentage of 52.4 per cent after 84 games, Lampard is looking for a third job in management.
The club insisted “no further comment” would be made until a new head coach was appointed with the future of assistant Jody Morris up in the air while the wait for Tuchel to be confirmed goes on.