By J Hutcherson (Jan 26, 2021) US Footballer – Frank Lampard is no longer the manager of Chelsea at number 9 as his position in the table contains all the justifications for the move. There is an agreed elite in the Premier League, and Chelsea is part of that. As entertaining as it is to watch English experts reload a hypothetical Super League with multiple Premier League clubs, Chelsea’s status is assured. If anything, they are the blueprint for what a sudden influx of serious money means for a football club.
That serious money was quoted in the press release announcing the manager’s change. “It was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the greatest respect for him,” said Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. “He is a man of great integrity and has the highest work ethic. However, in the current circumstances, we believe it would be best to change managers. On behalf of all members of the club, the board of directors 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 is always given a warm welcome at Stamford Bridge. “
Chelsea, who chose to spend more than $ 300 million on players during the summer transfer window while raising just over $ 93 million, has always been huge. This award underscores the expectation of results. The exact 4th place last year with the 3rd place of Manchester United was good enough to secure them a place in the Champions League and trigger a shopping spree. Even in a season changed by a pandemic, Lampard mainly managed to build a soil. Falling under it for too long set him up.
Lampard published his own statement: “When I took on this role, I understood the challenges that lay ahead of me at a difficult time for the football club. I’m proud of the success we’ve achieved, and I’m proud of the Academy players who made their step into the first team and performed so well. You are the future of the club. I’m disappointed that this season I haven’t had the time to take the club forward and take it to the next level. “
The promotion now falls to the former PSG coach Thomas Tuchel. It’s an interesting move considering how Tuchel left PSG, another club where the spending calls for results. For Ligue 1, this means that the points are stacked in 1st place. PSG wasn’t there for Christmas and that was the end for Tuchel. Under the former Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, PSG are again at the top of the table, even when it comes to the dramatically less financed Lille. This is not a remarkable return to form given the PSG squad, but it is more in line with expectations on the way to the Champions League knockout round.
It is safe to assume that Tuchel will be under pressure at Chelsea. His recent experience with the disadvantages of the super club scenario can serve him well in expectation management. With Liverpool making headlines in their battle for form, Chelsea were able to put together enough run to make room for their Champions League game at Atletico on February 23. You don’t have to win everything just enough to re-establish yourself closer to the top four. Not a big disappointment like the exit from the FA Cup in Barnsley on February 10th or the preparation for an unlikely comeback in the round of 16 of the Champions League.
That short-term optimism will eventually flow into the reality of what Chelsea has already paid to build. Tuchel was the coach of another team when Chelsea decided to buck the conservative trend and spend big bucks this summer of pandemic. That won’t allow him to rely on inheriting other people’s decisions.
What that creates is a familiar kind of difficulty with these jobs. The clubs willing to spend create a different role for their managers. Everyone in these roles recognizes this, even if they cover up mismatches in the schedule. Whether that is fair or not is irrelevant.
It is worth considering whenever there is talk of a super league. Imagine a mostly closed league with 16 of the richest teams in Europe. That should make them the 16 best teams too, but we are aware of how things look versus reality. So the 16 teams cut themselves off in one way or another. What counts for disappointment when that happens? Some of these teams will put the numbers together, end up in the lower half of the table and the fans will bravely ask what is the point of being below average in a super league.
This is similar to where big money clubs already are when there is no instant reward. Aside from the realities of the pandemic and the newfound Premier League parity. For Chelsea, this has been a season where expectations have risen. Not 4th or 3rd, but fighting for the title. Anything else would trigger this familiar scenario of the disappointed super club.
J Hutcherson began reporting on football in 1999 and has served as the general manager of the US National Soccer Team Players Association since 2002. Contact him at email@example.com.
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Photo by Nicolas Economou – NurPhoto via ZUMA Press – ISIPhotos.com