In the modern world everything is disposable. The public wants instant results. So it’s not surprising football is cursed with a fatal lack of patience in the quest for glory.
But Chelsea’s trigger happy owner Roman Abramovich is in a league of his own when it comes to the brutality of his record for sacking managers.
Axing Frank Lampard today after the club legend’s first season in charge delivered Champions League qualification and an FA Cup Final appearance, is par for the course.
The Russian billionaire will argue his way works because no English club has won more trophies than Chelsea since he took over ownership of the Blues in 2003.
But that’s the problem. Chelsea is a club constantly planning for the short-term. That’s why Jose Mourinho was a perfect fit in his two spells at the club.
The Stamford Bridge club have been able to ride rough shod over the mantra that real success requires a long term plan and giving the manager time. That’s largely because Chelsea are under-written by their owner’s resources that enable them to consistently spend big in the transfer market.
Annoyingly, Chelsea’s boom or bust mentality has paid dividends with trophies.
Consequently, other clubs with much smaller budgets fall into the trap of believing spinning the managerial merrygoround is the answer whenever they have a run of bad results.
Equally, owners at all levels are constantly emboldened by a blood hungry media, always there at the front baying for a manager’s head when there’s any sign of weakness.
Since time began the media has revelled in building football players and managers up. And then putting them on a pedestal before indulging in a crazed determination to bring them crashing down.
The difference today is that the traditional media has been dumbed down to a new low. Desperation to compete with the all-powerful world of social media has consequences.
Media of all shapes and sizes are now competing for eyeballs and followers like never before. Because eyeballs mean revenue. And that means we live in a flip-flip world where all media is constantly jumping on the band waggon of whatever mood is trending.
It’s a fickle state of affairs that makes the role of football manager more vulnerable than it’s been at any time in the history of the game.
In Lampard’s case, I believe it’s a criminal knee jerk reaction the likes of which is killing the integrity and image of the game.
What hope does any promising manager have at a big club, no matter how capable, when a temporary loss of form can trash their philosophy and the foundations they are trying to lay for success.
It does not matter who you are. There is no escaping the reality that class may be permanent but form is invariably temporary.
It does not matter who you are, everyone experiences a loss of form from time to time.
Chelsea sack Frank Lampard
Just 50 days ago Chelsea were top of the Premier League. Lampard has since led the Blues to Round 5 of the FA Cup after winning their Champions League group before Christmas.
A strong start to the season saw Lampard’s men go on an impressive 17-match unbeaten run that only came to an end in mid-December at Everton. But the dip in form that now sees Chelsea languishing in ninth place in the Premier League, 11 points behind leaders Manchester United, has proved a bridge too far for impatient Abramovich.
In my view, that’s a disgrace because Lampard is a winner and he’d earned the right for more time. At Derby and in his brief spell at Chelsea, he’s already shown he has a great deal to offer in management.
Along with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – who’s proving the vultures wrong by turning things around at Manchester United – and Mikel Arteta, who led Arsenal to FA Cup glory in his debut season , Lampard is one of the Premier League’s new breed of managers who have plenty to offer.
Despite a transfer ban, Lampard dragged Chelsea to the FA Cup Final and qualification for the Champions League with a top 4 finish in his first season in charge.
But Lampard has paid the price of the club spending 226M in the summer transfer market, without an instant return in the Premier League.
The irony is that Frank Lampard has been sacked for not delivering quickly enough with a new squad of players he most likely did not choose. You only have to look at Manchester United, sitting top of the Premier League after sticking with Solskjaer when the media mob were calling for his head, to see what can happen when you show some faith.
It was painful to watch Lampard on Friday, fending off the barbed questions of a media sensing they were in for the kill in the conference before yesterday’s farewell FA Cup win at Brentford.
Witnessing the media frenzy today in the wake of Abramovich and his board sacking Lampard, I find myself embarrassed by a lifetime working in the media.
Previously I spent 27 years writing about football for the Sunday Mirror and as a freelance I’ve contributed to just about all the national newspapers in this country. So I know how these guys think and act. And what motives the old school media.
Today I find myself an independent voice unshackled by the self-serving agenda of any major publication. That gives me the freedom to tell you how I really see the media, and how it’s been overwhelmed by the social media explosion.
Forget club loyalties, I desperately hope Chelsea fail to benefit from sacking Lampard. Thomas Tuchel is nailed on to be the next manager on death row at the Bridge. Whatever success he or any other occupant of the Chelsea hotseat may enjoy, it’s certainly not a job for life.
In Frank We Trust
The one consolation for Frank Lampard is that he leaves his post knowing Chelsea fans still love him. And always will.
A far cry from his bitter departure from West Ham at the beginning of his career.
The Hammers alienated Lampard when they sacked his father Frank Senior. And long before that he famously found himself on the receiving end of criticism at a fans forum. One aggressively critical fan in particular told his then manager Harry Redknapp he wasn’t good enough.
Frank Junior clearly had the last laugh as a player with Chelsea, winning every domestic honour plus the Champions League and the Europa League on his way to becoming the Blues record goalscorer with 211 goals.
I’ve little doubt Lampard will use this latest insult to motivate him once again to prove the doubters wrong.
Meantime, I leave the final word to Harry Redknapp who has believed in young Frank since he brought his nephew through the academy at West Ham back in the 90s.
Speaking tonight on Sky Sports News, Lampard’s uncle lamented: “He’ll be very low. He had such passion for the club. And to have got that job, to manage the club that he was such a fantastic player for would have been a dream for him. So he’ll be very low. But he’ll come back.”
But the real insight provided by Redknapp came when he ridiculed the suggestion that Chelsea were now set to appoint a top class manager.
Concluded Harry: “I heard Gary Neville saying earlier they’ve got another world class manager, a great manager coming into the League.
“Who says he’s a great manager. Or a great coach. Winning the title at PSG in France doesn’t really make you a great manager. What does that prove really.”