Chelsea made their decision to sack Frank Lampard “way before” the axe fell on a club legend at Stamford Bridge, says Mario Melchiot.
The Blues have decided to make another change in the dugout just 18 months after handing their managerial reins to familiar face.
Lampard, after one season at Championship side Derby, returned to west London in the summer of 2019.
He took on a testing job in the wake of Maurizio Sarri’s departure, with a transfer embargo forcing him to promote from within.
Positive progress was made with home-grown stars, as Chelsea secured a top-four finish and reached the FA Cup final, but momentum proved difficult to maintain. That is despite Roman Abramovich bankrolling another elaborate spending spree during the summer of 2020, with several big-money signings added to the Blues squad.
Lampard's tenure has now been brought to a close, with Melchiot of the opinion that a fresh start – which could involve former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel – has been on the cards for a while.
The former Blues defender has told Sky Sports of where it went wrong for Lampard: “I was always a big fan of Frank taking the job but it took him a little bit too long to get his team playing the way he wanted it.
“The first year he had the ban going on and everyone said the way he managed a way around it and the way he brought in the young players was exactly the future that we were hoping for, to see Chelsea bringing through new young stars to really develop into their team instead of always having a team of players that had been bought outside.
“Then the next season comes, he gets the financial support and brings in star players like Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and he tried to make a team out of it.
“I felt like that didn’t really happen and it took a bit long. You know how it is. Some managers manage to get the time and I don’t think he has that after 18 months.
“My point of view would have been to let him run until the end of the season and then make a decision. I think they made a decision way before the sacking came.
“You aren’t just going to sack a manager at a club like Chelsea, you are going to make a decision way ahead of time, seeing if things change and then make a decision. That is what we have seen.”
Chelsea, who are into the last-16 of the Champions League, booked a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup during Lampard’s last game at the helm and will be back in Premier League action on Wednesday when they take in a home date with Wolves.