Football Expert & Columnist
Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Leicester in the Premier League on Sunday
Last Updated: 18/08/19 9:23pm
Graeme Souness believes Frank Lampard has the most difficult managerial job at Chelsea since Roman Abramovich arrived in 2003.
The former Chelsea midfielder is the 14th manager to take charge of the club in that time, and he is yet to win his first competitive game with two defeats and a draw.
But there was support from the Sky Sports pundits, with Souness saying that Lampard has taken on the biggest task since Abramovich arrived.
He said: “I think this is the most difficult job for a Chelsea manager since Roman Abramovich took over the club. The owner appears to have lost interest through circumstances not of his own making, but that’s a factor I think.
“The transfer ban is also a major issue and losing arguably one of the best players in the world [Eden Hazard], or certainly the best player in the Premier League over the last five or six years, it’s not easy.
“He needs time and you can’t be judging Frank Lampard on what you see now – this is what he’s inherited. There’s not a lot wrong with them, just people being slightly different at vital times and scoring more goals.
“When this team are on the front foot, they’re fabulous to watch. But when the game goes the other way, there are not a lot of people who can sense that danger to say ‘let’s be difficult to play against’. We’ve seen it twice now in succession – at Old Trafford and today.”
Redknapp slams ‘deluded’ expectations
Jamie Redknapp also backed Lampard despite a slow start, and harshly criticised those who may have over-reaching expectations for Chelsea this season.
He added: “Of course, Lampard has to be treated differently because Chelsea have lost their superstar. Hazard was the one player that would produced a piece of magic to make a goal or score a goal.
“You’ve not been able to buy a player but Manchester United have gone out and got Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, spent £130m-odd on players. But Chelsea haven’t had that luxury so of course, they have to be treated differently.
“And if you think Lampard should finish in the top four and win a cup, you’re deluded. It’s completely wrong to have that expectation.
“This manager needs time, he’s going to give young players an opportunity and if he finishes in the top four, that’s an incredible achievement with this team. They have to finish in the top six, I think, because they have good enough players to do that, plus the know-how and winning mentality.
“He’s not blessed with the best squad Chelsea have ever had. There are not many who would have got in the teams Ashley [Cole] played in or maybe even Antonio Conte’s team. But that’s why they’ve got to be patient, which is not something they’re always keen to have at Chelsea.”
Cole: Chelsea shouldn’t panic yet
Lampard’s former Chelsea team-mate Ashley Cole also agrees that the new manager needs time but says they do need to start scoring goals.
Making a guest appearance on Sky Sports – where he also announced his retirement from football – Cole said: “Chelsea’s start was very good. From minute one, they had their game plan to press, to make runs in behind and it worked. Then after that, it was a little bit disappointing.
“We spoke a lot about where the goals are going to come so when you take a 1-0 lead, you need to try and get another one because you don’t feel like you’re going to get enough chances.
“In this game, they had enough chances but they didn’t finish them. That would be the main concern for Frank – are they going to be good enough to take their chances and score more than one per game?
“Chelsea have got the players and everyone expects them to be in the top four or six, but the Premier League has changed. The manager needs time, the players need time and I don’t think everyone should panic yet.”