Chelsea have sacked Frank Lampard less than 24 hours after the club’s FA Cup victory over Luton Town, with Thomas Tuchel primed to replace him.
As the news, exclusively first reported by Telegraph Sport, was digested by supporters, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich took the unprecedented step of explaining his decision in the club’s statement confirming Lampard’s departure, something he has never felt the need to do before.
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.
“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.”
Former technical director Michael Emenalo and director Marina Granovskaia have previously been left to comment on managerial departures and appointments, but Abramovich decided he needed to explain the sacking of Lampard and make it clear that he took responsibility for the change.
Lampard was informed of his fate on Monday morning and Chelsea are now expected to announce Tuchel as his full-time successor.
Chelsea’s statement said: “Chelsea Football Club have today parted company with head coach Frank Lampard.
“This has been a very difficult decision, and not one that the owner and the board have taken lightly.
“We are grateful to Frank for what he has achieved in his time as head coach of the club. However, recent results and performances have not met the club’s expectations, leaving the club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement.
“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.”
He would have been sacked immediately after the Leicester City defeat, which was Chelsea’s fifth in eight Premier League games, had the club had an internal candidate to take caretaker charge.
But without a ready-made interim replacement in place, Chelsea had to go about finalising a successor for Lampard with Tuchel judged to be the best available man for the job.
Lampard remained confident that he could turn around recent performances and results, and had been heartened by Sunday’s FA Cup victory over Luton Town.
But Abramovich was worried that a top-four place was disappearing from sight and believed Chelsea were no nearer challenging Manchester City and Liverpool, which had been the target at the start of the season.
While Tuchel’s arrival is partly aimed at trying to bring the best out of two of Chelsea’s big summer signings – his German compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz – Chelsea believe the entire squad is in need of a lift.
Werner missed a penalty in the win over Luton, despite performing better, while Havertz made a late appearance as a substitute.
Tuchel’s appointment will also be seen as somewhat of a risk, given Chelsea were warned off him during Antonio Conte’s reign because of his fall-outs with his former employers.
Chelsea are yet to confirm which members of Lampard’s backroom staff will depart with him, but assistant Jody Morris is expected to follow him out of the exit door.