Current Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has questioned the decision made by the Blues’ board back in January to sack club legend Frank Lampard after a poor run of form.
Chelsea’s record all-time top goalscorer was dismissed from his role after a poor start to the 2020/21 campaign, which inevitably resulted in Roman Abramovich wielding the sacking axe once again.
It was a decision that didn’t go down well with all of the Blues faithful at the time, with many chanting the legend’s name in defiance against the board in games that came immediately after, including Tuchel’s first match against Wolves.
But with a top-four finish seeming unlikely midway through last season, coupled with the German’s successes so far at the club in winning the club’s second-ever Champions League title, this plus a top-four finish and FA Cup final appearance has proved that the decision made was the right one in the end.
However, in an interview with Sky Sports in the build-up to the Arsenal game, the former Paris Saint Germain boss has admitted that he questioned the decision before agreeing to join the west Londoners immediately after.
He said: “I actually said to the board in our first phone call, are you sure of doing this? Really they will not like you and maybe he deserves more time because when I think about Chelsea I think about [Frank] Lampard, [Petr] Cech, [John] Terry, [Didier] Drogba.
“He embodied everything that Chelsea represents – hard work, aggressive player, a big leader but at the same time a true team player.
“So, he was a true legend and I clearly understood that the choice was already made, and it was then proposed to me as like a take it or leave it opportunity.
“Then I hoped for a fair chance with the players because if you step in then not everybody will be happy out of the 22 players in the squad.
“I wouldn’t expect anybody to have been happy with the manager being gone, because he had a very good group stage [Champions League] and he had good results and good performances and was sometimes unlucky – that was what the data showed to us.
“But I said very early, listen guys, I did not push him out, I’m just here now to continue the journey and let’s give ourselves a chance to be open and give this a good go.
“And there I said, I’m at a top club and what I’ve experienced since day one was fantastic support from the club.
“Super organised, a lot of top quality support and a strong group on the field which is a pleasure to work with from day one.”
As demonstrated by these touching comments, the German has an abundance of respect for his predecessor and he has praised Lampard for ‘laying down the foundations’ for the Champions League triumph of 2020/21.
“Frank [Lampard] had an amazing record in the group stage of the Champions League,” said Tuchel in the early days of his Chelsea tenure. “[He] won all the FA Cup games. He’s laid the foundation to get us to finals and I will never forget it, we don’t feel ashamed or have any fear to speak it out loud.
“It felt like that on the first day. I am aware Frank created his own legacy as a player and make it bigger as a coach. We stepped in halfway through the season and tried to fulfil the job he had began.”
The 47-year-old had admitted to exchanging messages with Lampard shortly after he replaced the former midfielder in SW6.
“Frank resembles everything you think about Chelsea,” said the German. “You think about Frank Lampard, the way he is, how he played football.
“This shows his character and the message he sent was a pleasure to receive. We had a message a couple of days after we arrived but nothing more.”