Throughout his 18(ish) months at Stamford Bridge, Frank Lampard has always done an excellent job of keeping his composure in the face of adversity.
However, as things have started to go downhill this season, Lampard’s calm aura has started to crumble.
While he hasn’t exactly thrown his players under the bus, Lampard no longer hesitates to call out his players if he isn’t happy with their performances, and he’s been doing that with alarming regularity recently. Reports of dressing room unrest didn’t take long to surface.
Next up to face Lampard’s wrath was the media.
In his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup tie with Luton Town, Lampard should have been giving answers about the fitness of N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud, but we didn’t get anything like that. Instead, we got a surprisingly personal attack on The Athletic’s Liam Twomey.
“To be fair Liam their confidence would be shot if they were to read some of the pieces you write at the minute,” he told Twomey (via the Daily Mail). “I read them and some of the confirmation bias that you reflect on after games…it’s almost like a social media pundit to try and get a reaction in a negative way.
“I read the pieces when we were doing well and they did not go both ways. So for a journalist to be objective would be a big start because players do read it.”
They’re not the words of the Lampard we’ve seen over the last 18 months. They’re the words of a man who is feeling the pressure.
For Chelsea, this isn’t anything particularly new. The Blues have had some of the most prickly managers in recent Premier League history, and they’ve seen more than their fair share of spiky press conferences.
One man in particular, Jose Mourinho, is not one to bite his tongue, and when things started going downhill for his Chelsea side in 2015/16, the press room at Stamford Bridge became the most toxic place on earth.
Mourinho became so frustrated with life at Chelsea that he turned his back on almost everyone. Players, journalists and even fans were all targeted, and the mood around the club soured with each and every passing week.
Nobody wants to be part of an atmosphere like that. It’s why Chelsea almost stopped playing in 2015/16, and there are signs to suggest the Blues are heading in the wrong direction this season.
You can argue that it’s simply a case of Lampard’s passion spilling over. Nobody wants to see Chelsea succeed more than him, but he’s going about it all wrong these days. He may have taken plenty of plays from Mourinho’s book, but this is one he must avoid.
Things are already bad enough at Chelsea, and everybody is already examining Lampard under the most-intense microscope. so the boss cannot afford to feed the misery around Stamford Bridge. It’s his job to keep things on track.
When players are going through a tough time, they look to the manager for help. They need to see somebody who is calm, composed and ready for the challenge, and this press conference made Lampard look like the exact opposite.