Thomas Tuchel has been given the job of turning Chelsea back into winners as Frank Lampard’s Chelsea successor after the club legend was sacked by owner Roman Abramovich on a dramatic day at Stamford Bridge.
Abramovich has once again underlined his ruthless pursuit of instant success by deciding that Lampard, the 12th Chelsea manager of his reign, was not the man to take the Blues back to the top.
Telegraph Sport exclusively broke the story on Monday morning that Lampard was to be sacked before the Chelsea players were aware of the news, and confirmation came shortly before midday.
Chelsea’s squad had woken up to a message informing them that morning training had been delayed until 2pm, but only learned of Lampard’s departure after the Telegraph’s online report.
Lampard was given the news face-to-face by Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia and chairman Bruce Buck in a meeting on Monday morning and decided against heading straight to the club’s Cobham training ground to say his goodbyes to the Blues players.
Assistant Jody Morris followed Lampard out of Chelsea, which left first-team coaches Joe Edwards and Anthony Barry to take training on Monday afternoon while the club finalised Tuchel’s arrival.
Chelsea were on Monday working towards trying to formally appoint Tuchel in time for him to take charge of Wednesday night’s Premier League game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The club was hoping that he will be afforded an exemption from quarantining due to the fact he will join an elite sports environment, even though he was sacked by Paris Saint-Germain at the end of December.
Edwards and Barry, helped by technical performance advisor Petr Cech, will take charge of the Chelsea team against Wolves if Tuchel is for any reason prevented from doing so.
Abramovich’s decision to sack Lampard 18 months into his two-year contract, which had the option of a further 12 months, came amid growing concern over performances, results and Chelsea falling behind in the race for the top four.
Tuchel will be expected to challenge for a top-four position and Champions League qualification this season and will then be under pressure to turn Chelsea back into winners and compete properly with Liverpool and Manchester City for top honours.
Having spent £220million on new players in the summer, Abramovich expected Chelsea to demonstrate that they are closing the gap on Liverpool and City, but, at the halfway stage of the season, West Ham United were the only team in the top half of the table that Lampard’s team had beaten.
Lampard also had to manage unease within his large squad, with Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso and Jorginho, three players he wanted to offload, among those believed to have caused issues.
Tuchel was interested in signing both Rudiger at Jorginho at PSG, and it is expected the German will eventually get the best out of compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, who have both struggled since moving to Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Abramovich took the unprecedented step of explaining his decision in Chelsea’s statement confirming Lampard’s departure, something he has never felt the need to do before.
In the statement, Abramovich said: “This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him.
“He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances, we believe it is best to change managers.
“On behalf of everyone at the club, the board 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 will always be warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge.”
Chelsea’s statement added: “Chelsea Football Club have today parted company with head coach Frank Lampard.
“This has been a very difficult decision, and not one that the owner and the board have taken lightly.
“We are grateful to Frank for what he has achieved in his time as head coach of the club. However, recent results and performances have not met the club’s expectations, leaving the club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement.
“There can never be a good time to part ways with a club legend such as Frank, but after lengthy deliberation and consideration it was decided a change is needed now to give the club time to improve performances and results this season.”
Tuchel won two Ligue 1 titles at PSG and reached the final of last season’s Champions League before being sacked at the end of December after a fall-out with the club’s hierarchy, something that also happened in his previous job at Borussia Dortmund.
Chelsea have not commented on the likely makeup of Tuchel’s staff, but he is expected to bring Arno Michels, who has worked with the 47-year-old since his days at Mainz, with him as an assistant.
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