When Frank Lampard was sacked last week, there was wide condemnation from the punditry class. Many saw it as a poor effort from Chelsea; the latest in a kneejerk reaction from a club that has become as famous for bulleting managers as it is for winning titles. Despite working through almost every big-name and trophy-winning coach in the world, Chelsea now had turned on one of their own – Frank Lampard, the all-time top goalscorer. It left fans upset that a player who had given so much was given so little trust and time comparatively as a manager.
It led many friends and ex-teammates in the press to back Lampard, saying he was a fine coach and a manager of repute. They said how it was unfair that he had been let down by the club, and that he needed more time to blend in a large collection of summer signings. However, one pundit who was very clear about the reality of the situation was Gary Neville.
The former Manchester United and England man, who played with Lampard at international level and against each other for their clubs, has been through managerial sackings of his own. Having stepped in at Spanish giants Valencia, he fared poorly and was sacked before the end of the season. Neville, then, knows how the managerial world works. As a legend of the modern English game, though, he has also seen from afar how Chelsea operate.
And that vision has given him little reason to be shocked by Frank Lampard being let go.
What did Gary Neville think of Frank Lampard being sacked by Chelsea?
As part of his popular podcast, The Gary Neville Podcast, Neville said: “I think because of the rumours that came out of Stamford Bridge and the media before, it wasn’t really a shock. I thought initially he would get more time, just to let them settle in but you can’t be surprised by Chelsea.
“I go back Martin, to in Napoli eight or nine years ago, when Villas-Boas had picked a team in the afternoon of a Champions League game. And he left out Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and another big player at that time.
“And I remember Chelsea players at that time ringing up members of the media and trying to get him out. And Frank was part of that group.
“And it has been really a brutal football club for managers for many many years, and Frank has suffered that brutality last week, so he should be the least of all surprised because he has been at the club when Villas-Boas was sacked, Scolari and all the rest of them have come and gone.”
For Chelsea fans, then, the words of Neville should strike a chord. The sacking of Lampard harks back to his own time as a player, both when Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked and when Andre Villas-Boas was sacked. Lampard played a role in developing the win-always culture that permeates around Chelsea; he shouldn’t be shocked to be a victim of that same culture.