Chelsea: Should Lampard be given more time to succeed?
Paul Merson has told Chelsea to give Frank Lampard time and believes the Blues are still in the Premier League title race despite just one win in six matches. The west London club beat Morecambe in the FA Cup on Sunday but in the league, they have lost four of their last six games and sit ninth in the table.
Pressure is mounting on Lampard and whilst Roman Abramovich appears to be trying to give the club legend more time than some of his predecessors, the owner is said to have started looking at alternatives.
Their decline in form has been remarkable considering they were enjoying a 17-match unbeaten run at the start of December.
But with the Blues six points from the top four and ten from Manchester United at the top of the table, Merson has urged Abramovich to stick with Lampard.
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“Teams are losing games and dropping points left, right and centre. If you put a run of five wins together, you’re probably top of the league. That wasn’t the case last year,” Merson said, in his Sky Sports’ column.
“If this was Chelsea’s points tally last season or the season before, I’d say Chelsea are in trouble. But not this season. They’re still in it, big time.
“Manchester United have come from nowhere, chipping away, and all of a sudden they can spread-eagle the field if they beat Liverpool. They’ve just had that bit of luck, starting in November against West Brom, who had a stonewall penalty.
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“That’s why I still don’t think Chelsea are out of it. Whoever you are, put five wins together and you’re in it.”
On Saturday evening Chelsea have a west London derby with Fulham, who are managed by another young boss and former Blues player in Scott Parker.
Merson believes Chelsea ‘have all the advantage’ heading into the contest because of their superior squad and due to Fulham’s quick turnaround, with Parker’s men taking on Spurs in a rearranged fixture tonight.
Merson said: “If Chelsea don’t beat Fulham, should they sack Frank Lampard? It depends what Chelsea want this year. It’s alright saying: ‘Let’s get rid of Frank’ but who comes in?
“Do they go back in for Rafa Benitez? If you’re going to bring in Andriy Shevchenko, what’s the difference? It’s the same as Lampard, he hasn’t managed world-class players, and will need time.
“It’s not like you can bring in a Carlo Ancelotti for a quick fix. Sooner or later, there has to be a plan at Chelsea. You can’t spend £200m and think you’re going to win the league, it doesn’t work like that.
“Lampard did a great job last year, and it’s the first time he has worked with world-class players. Give him a chance.
“A plan is to be realistic about where they expect to come this season: I would have probably said the plan was to stay in the top four – because they already made the top four not spending £200m last season – and probably be in the title race.”
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