Where do Chelsea go from here? Frank Lampard dare not ask Roman Abramovich

James Robson
·4-min read
 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Leicester City go top – but where on earth do Chelsea go from here?

Frank Lampard dare not ask.

The pressure is mounting on the Chelsea manager a fifth defeat in eight games - and no matter how much he calls for patience, there is only so much even he can expect from Roman Abramovich.

Just ask Jose Mourinho, whose final game in charge of Chelsea came on this ground in 2015, when he claimed his players betrayed him in a 2-1 defeat.

Two days later, he was gone.

Lampard is never likely to use such flammable language – but this was the type of performance that loses managers their job.

Chelsea’s defending was calamitous; their organisation non-existent. And it was another day when their star players simply failed to show.

Lampard has to take his own share of the blame there – and his failure to get the best out of £220million-worth of new signings will hardly sit well with Abramovich.

While the game passed £71m Kai Havertz by, £45m Timo Werner started on the bench alongside £33m Hakim Ziyech.

If Lampard can afford to leave such a rich array of talent on the bench, it undermines his repeated claims that Chelsea are not ready to challenge for the title.

If nothing else, this was game to justify that assertion.

A 2-0 scoreline flattered the visitors, who could easily have conceded twice as many against a Leicester side who look well worth the nine points and seven places that separate the sides.

Of most concern to Lampard will be the part he has played in this latest low for his team.

He can be questioned over his team selection – why choose Antonio Rudiger ahead of Kurt Zouma and Mateo Kovacic over Jorginho?

By leaving out Ziyech, he robbed Chelsea of their most creative force.

The shambolic defending does reflect well on the work he’s doing on the training ground – and his failure to get a tune out of Havertz will raise doubts over his ability to handle the superstar talents provided to him by his owner.

POOL/AFP via Getty Images
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Abramovich is not known for his patience – and a change of manager has always been his preferred solution over a change of squad.

Lampard knows that. He saw enough managers come and go during his illustrious playing career at Stamford Bridge – and there is no doubt that he is in the type of rut that did for many of his predecessors.

There are, of course, mitigating factors, such as the congested nature of the campaign and a lack of pre-season to work with his players.

But there can be no excuse for the type of defending that saw Leicester race to a two-goal first-half lead from which Chelsea never recovered.

Wilfred Ndidi fired the home side in front after six minutes after Harvey Barnes had already been left unmarked from a short corner routine, only to completely miss the ball before it fell to his team-mate. Just like him, Ndidi was left with all the time in the world to shoot from 25 yards.

Leicester’s second goal on 41 minutes was even more slapstick – Rudiger and Thiago Silva getting in each others’ way before James Maddison was allowed to run free of the watching Reece James to slip a shot past Edouard Mendy.

At that point it felt like Lampard could be on the end of a humiliation. And while it never got that bad, in terms of his future, he must now be fearing the worst.

Ominous signs for Lampard

POOL/AFP via Getty Images
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

It was on this ground six years ago that Mourinho took charge of Chelsea for the last time and accused his players of betraying him.

Lampard would never use such incendiary words, but Chelsea unraveled against Rodgers’ side, who now sit at the top of the table. Just as Leicester did when signalling the end of Mourinho’s reign.

Lampard’s actions speak louder than words over Werner

Getty Images
Getty Images

Not for the first time, Lampard used his pre-match press conference to offer a public show of support to Werner.

But leaving him out of his starting XI for the second game in succession was confirmation of his concerns about the German’s form right now.

Lampard can talk up the £45m striker’s qualities all he likes when in front of the cameras – but his words can’t help but come off sounding hollow when he then drops a player who is clearly struggling for confidence.

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