By Robert O'Connor, PA
Frank Lampard said turning around Chelsea’s fortunes will be the next manager’s problem as he prepares to bow out from his interim role after Sunday’s game against Newcastle.
The team’s wretched season slumped to a new low with a 4-1 thumping against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Thursday, the ninth defeat of Lampard’s 11 games in charge.
If results go against them on the final day they could finish as low as 14th and equal their worst placing in the Premier League era.
They are already guaranteed to end with their lowest points tally in the competition, with the fewest number of goals the club have scored in a Premier League campaign.
It ends in defeat for the Blues. #MunChe pic.twitter.com/MzgDMItmP6
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 25, 2023
Mauricio Pochettino is expected to be appointed as the club’s next permanent manager in the coming days and his in-tray will include quickly slimming down a bloated first-team squad and installing cohesion in a team that has lost its way since Graham Potter was sacked in April.
Chelsea have won only once in the almost two months since Potter was removed seven months into a five-year contract, and the task of rediscovering the team’s form has seemingly grown more daunting with each defeat.
A remedy has proved beyond Lampard in his short time in charge, and he was asked whether the incoming manager will have the toughest job of any Chelsea boss in the last 20 years.
“It’s a good headline but I don’t know,” said Lampard. “It remains to be seen, I can’t jump into the future.
“I think it is a fantastic job because it is the Chelsea job and when I took it first time (in 2019) I came I probably got it it was because a lot of top managers didn’t want that, I know that for a fact.
“I enjoyed the process and I enjoyed coming in and I wish the new manager well.
“I don’t know… it’s his problem I guess – is that the headline you wanted?”
One of the hindering factors during Lampard’s reign has been the size of the squad, with 34 first-team players vying for selection following co-owner Todd Boehly’s whirlwind transfer activity during his first 12 months in control.
It has meant limited playing time for younger members of the squad, even those signed for large fees and with high expectations.
Carney Chukwuemeka joined from Aston Villa for £20million last summer but has struggled for minutes, whilst Noni Madueke arrived for £29m from PSV Eindhoven and has featured just 11 times.
Both players started the loss at Old Trafford and played 82 minutes before being substituted and Lampard said he was pleased with the application of players that came in having not been regulars in the side.
“I don’t want to go into individuals,” he said. “I thought Carney did really well (against United) coming in to midfield with personality. It has been one of the harder parts of my job with the numbers in the squad.
“Going with a team to win important games and working with the younger players who we haven’t seen before because normally there is a process and a pre-season.
“We haven’t had that time. I thought Carney did well, I thought Noni did pretty well again and the flip of that was that Azpi (Cesar Azpilicueta) was fantastic with his captaincy and attitude.
“It is 70 per cent of the game how you apply yourself and your attitude.”