LONDON — Frank Lampard took a swipe at Chelsea’s underachieving stars as the departing caretaker boss claimed standards have slipped at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard took charge of the final match of his brief second spell as Chelsea manager yesterday when the Blues were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle.
As Chelsea’s record goalscorer, Lampard will always be held in high regard by the club’s fans, who afforded him a warm send-off at Stamford Bridge.
But Lampard knows Mauricio Pochettino, reportedly set to be confirmed as his successor imminently, faces a massive task to revitalise a squad that performed so poorly this term.
Chelsea’s 12th place finish marked the first time they have ended in the bottom half of the table since 1995-96.
They also recorded their lowest tally of points and goals scored in the Premier League era.
Just two years after Thomas Tuchel led them to Champions League glory, Chelsea are in crisis.
“The standards collectively have dropped. I can be honest about that now that it’s my last game, I might not see some of them that much anymore,” Lampard said.
“The standards of the collective for a club like Chelsea have to be at the maximum or you won’t be physically competitive enough, or you won’t be able to play at a high level.
“If you’re not together in the dressing room, and you’re not vocal in the dressing room, driving each other and competitive because I want your place and you want mine. Any top team has to have that.”
Chelsea’s form has nosedived since Lampard was appointed on April 6, with problems that had been apparent under his predecessor Graham Potter growing worse by the week.
Todd Boehly’s whirlwind transfer activity during his first year of ownership has produced a squad of 34 first-team players that both Potter and Lampard have said proved hugely challenging to work with.
“It’s clear there are things I would see that need to improve,” Lampard said.
“A new manager will see with his own eyes and the beauty of it is he’ll have a pre-season to work with the team.
“We’re not physically competitive enough. Newcastle are and we haven’t been. That’s a strong opinion that I have.
“The squad has been too big, that’s the biggest challenge I’ve found day to day, coming in and working with big numbers, and with players who for whatever reason are disillusioned.
“Those situations can maybe be sorted out now and they have to be.” — AFP