Chelsea are expected to name Thomas Tuchel as their new manager after sacking Frank Lampard on Monday.
Lampard’s status as the club’s record goalscorer and fan favourite could not save him from becoming Roman Abramovich’s 10th managerial sacking, even if the Russian acknowledged this was no ordinary decision as he made the rare step of issuing a personal statement of thanks to the outgoing man.
Lampard – who won three league titles and the Champions League with Chelsea as a player – followed with his own statement, expressing disappointment that he was not given more time this season to take the club to the “next level”
But with the decision made, attention must now quickly turn to his successor ahead of Wolves’ visit to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
The PA news agency understands Tuchel is the chosen man, with the 47-year-old having been available since leaving Paris St Germain last month.
It is not yet clear how soon Tuchel could actually take charge of first-team affairs given the need to observe Covid-19 protocols upon his arrival.
Tuchel won back-to-back league titles with PSG and took them to the Champions League final only five months ago, when they lost to Bayern Munich.
That was not enough to satisfy the club’s ambitious owners, who replaced him with Mauricio Pochettino.
Prior to his spell in France, Tuchel impressed in his native Germany with Borussia Dortmund following a spell with Mainz.
Tuchel will be familiar with at least two members of the Chelsea squad after he worked with Thiago Silva at PSG and handed Christian Pulisic his chance at Dortmund while the American was still a teenager.
He will also inherit a number of big money upgrades signed in the summer, including Ben Chilwell, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, though arguably only the latter has justified his price tag so far.
Not getting the best out of them perhaps proved fatal for Lampard, who negotiated a transfer ban, introduced several young players and led the team to a fourth-placed finish and an FA Cup final in his first campaign, but could not convince Abramovich he could push on further in his second.
In a statement, the club owner 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.
Chelsea Football Club has today parted company with Head Coach Frank Lampard.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 25, 2021
“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.”
Jose Mourinho, a man twice sacked by Abramovic, expressed sympathy if not surprise for his former player.
“I am always sad when a colleague loses his job and Frank is not just a colleague he is an important person in my career so I feel sorry he did,” the Spurs boss said.
“But it is the brutality of football, especially modern football so when you become a manager you know that sooner or later it is going to happen to you.”