Frank Lampard is running out of time to save his job after Chelsea’s defeat by Leicester prompted the board to start identifying possible replacements for their manager.
Chelsea have grown alarmed after five defeats in eight Premier League games and Lampard finds himself on increasingly thin ice. The 42-year-old is under no illusions about his precarious situation. He does not have long to convince the hierarchy, who have started to consider succession plans, that he can turn the situation around.
The disappointing display against Leicester did little to suggest that Lampard, who has 18 months left on his deal, is capable of bringing the best out of his squad after spending more than £200m last summer. Chelsea lie five points below fourth-placed Liverpool, who host Burnley on Thursday, and the owner, Roman Abramovich, could act if he senses that Champions League qualification is slipping away.
Chelsea, who host Luton in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday, have been alerted to Thomas Tuchel’s potential interest in taking the job if it becomes vacant. The German led Paris Saint-Germain to the Champions League final last season but is out of work after being sacked last month.
There is a doubt over Tuchel because of his struggle to deal with PSG’s internal politics. Yet there is a feeling that a coach with experience of the Bundesliga could revive Chelsea’s struggling German stars, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. In that context Ralf Rangnick, regarded as one of the most innovative figures in German football, could arrive on a short-term basis given that Julian Nagelsmann, the RB Leipzig manager, is unlikely to be available until the summer. Chelsea could choose to wait until the end of the season even if they decide to remove Lampard, as they did with Maurizio Sarri and Antonio Conte.
There is no guarantee that Chelsea will go down the German route if Lampard departs. Max Allegri remains available following his departure from Juventus 18 months ago and the Italian has a wealth of experience. Ralph Hasenhüttl, who managed Werner at Leipzig, has also been mentioned after impressing at Southampton.
Lampard is clinging on for now and is line to face pivotal home games against Wolves and Burnley before visiting Tottenham on 4 February. There are doubts over his team’s tactics and lack of identity. Chelsea were awful against Leicester and it is understood that the mood in the dressing room was low after the game. Lampard faces a fight to restore the squad’s confidence.
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