Frank Lampard has insisted that the squad he had as Chelsea manager was ‘too big’ and has admitted that his dismissal was always likely because of a lack of instant silverware.
Returning Chelsea legend Lampard was appointed to replace Maurizio Sarri at Stamford Bridge in 2019 after just a single season of management under his belt. But he lasted just under 18 months in the job until being sacked in January 2021 and replaced by Thomas Tuchel.
Lampard’s Chelsea finished fourth in the Premier League in 2019/20 and reached the FA Cup final. Heavy investment on new players followed, only for a run of five defeats in eight Premier League games in December and January of the 2020/21 campaign to result in the club making a change.
Chelsea went on to win the Champions League under Tuchel and now lead the Premier League a third of the way through 2021/22. But Lampard explained that his successor has had the opportunity to trim what was a bloated squad.
“We had a big squad and were leaving out players. We needed the squad to be, for me, less at that point,” Lampard told Gary Neville’s The Overlap.
“Don’t get me wrong, they went on to win the Champions League last season so it sounds a bit naff. It’s tough because we had three left backs, and you can only play one generally, and five centre backs,” the Blues’ all-time leading scorer added.
“The squad was big and it’s tough. As time goes on, and the new manager is there now, you can make changes and trim but that’s just how I felt at the time.”
Lampard expressed his regret at seeing Fikayo Tomori have to move on because of the competition for places, commenting that he felt the player, now thriving at AC Milan, would go on to be “…a very good centre back for Chelsea for years to come.”
“When you’ve got five [cetre-backs], it’s Fikayo or [Antonio] Rudiger, or [Andreas] Christensen, two of those are at home for a game. It’s not nice and you can’t bulls*** players, saying ‘Okay, I’m leaving you at home but don’t worry you’ll be back next week’, if that’s not the case.
“I wouldn’t have wanted that as a player and it’s really hard.”
Lampard also described his dismissal as Chelsea boss, admitting he knew what was about to happen as soon as he was called in for a meeting with the Stamford Bridge hierarchy.
“We’d beaten Luton in the FA Cup fourth round or whatever it was,” he said. “Then the next morning I got a message from Bruce Buck, the chairman, saying: ‘Can you move training and come and meet us in the boardroom?’ I knew straight away.
“It is what it is. They are going to move on and there’s nothing you can do there. I’ve never been in that position before so it was a bit surreal at the time but when you take the job you understand that that call could come. At Chelsea it probably will come unless you go and win back-to-back titles and that was never going to happen.”