After yet another defeat, this time to see a club with a fraction of the wealth and top-flight pedigree go top of the Premier League, the question at Chelsea seems to have changed. It is no longer if Frank Lampard gets sacked, it is now a matter of when.
But that is the prospect that faces most managers when they take a job. The sack is an almost inevitability and one of the reasons why those that go into this line of work are so handsomely compensated.
Managers have a short, unforgiving, thankless professional lives which usually end with thousands of braying fans calling for your head as you try to go to work.
The average life expectancy of Premier League manager over the last decade is just 69.4 league games according to football number cruncher Vyom Chaudhary of RunRepeat.com. It’s a longer life than any of the other top five leagues, with the average Serie A manager lasting less than a season (35.1 games).
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Lampard just lost to Leicester City in what was his 56th game in charge of Chelsea in the Premier League, and if you’re to believe the maths, he’s not got much longer left.
Then there is owner Roman Abramovich, who is not known for having much patience with managers. He sacked Carlo Ancelotti just a season after winning the Premier League and FA Cup double, he sacked Roberto Di Matteo just months after winning the Champions League and he sacked Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho less than a year after winning the Premier League, but to name a few harshly-dealt-with former Chelsea managers.
Lampard has the lowest points-per-game ratio of any manager under Abramovich and the second-worst win percentage behind Andre Villas-Boas, who lasted less than a season in charge.
Only Mourinho and Conte have spent more money than Lampard while in charge at Stamford Bridge too, even though the Blues were barred from signing anyone during his first two transfer windows in charge. The outlay during the European summer transfer window by Chelsea was the second largest ever under Abramovich.
While the hefty signings of £71m Kai Havertz and £47.5m Timo Werner have hardly hit the ground running, he can’t say he hasn’t been given the support or resources he needs.
Of course, there is always going to a caveat with Lampard that no other Chelsea manager past or future (with the exception of perhaps John Terry) will ever get, and that is what he did for Abramovich as a player.
That got him the job in the first place and it’s been enough to keep him in it when the going has got tough ever since.
He’s also earned a bit of time to prove himself having guided Chelsea to Champions League qualification in the immediate aftermath of the post-Eden Hazard era while being unable to sign a replacement.
He’s also brought through and give chances to some impressive homegrown talents, such as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Billy Gilmour, which is something none of his predecessors can claim to have done.
Lampard will point to the time given to the likes of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mikel Arteta at Manchester United and Arsenal respectively earlier this season and how they’ve both managed to turn results around very quickly.
Critics will point back that both of those managers have impressed discernible styles on their teams though, and that the current run of results is reward for patience shown in the plan they had. With Lampard there doesn’t appear to be any sign of how he actually wants his team to play.
“We were asleep in moments. I felt like there were quite a lot of moments in the first half where our sharpness wasn’t there,” Lampard said after the defeat to Leicester. “The basics and bare minimums are to run, sprint and cover ground, and too many of our players didn’t do it.”
It’s not the first time he’s questioned them on this, the last time being after the defeat to Arsenal at the end of December.
Clearly nothing has changed since then. Will it now?