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Frank Lampard is expected to reach the top four this season as doubts grow about his future as Chelsea boss.
The Chelsea hierarchy want to give under-pressure Lampard time to turn the club’s fortunes around and do not want to make a panic decision mid-season.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann and Thomas Tuchel will be seen as potential replacements while ex-Juventus boss Max Allegri has admitted he wants to manage in England.
They may see moving towards a German or German speaker as a good option if they replace Lampard because of the make up of the dressing room with the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Antonio Rudiger among prominent squad members.
Lampard saw his side beaten 2-0 by Leicester on Tuesday night
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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But Lampard is likely to be judged on whether he can get Chelsea back into the Champions League next season and that will be the barometer which decides his long term fate.
Lampard has continually tried to play down the club’s expectations this season but, having spent £200m last summer, the hierarchy believe Chelsea should be in the top four and among the contenders.
There is also concern that Lampard has struggled to get the best out of some of the new big signings as Werner is a Germany international, a £50m deal and arrived with proven quality.
They also invested heavily in Havertz with Lampard firmly on board with that move and yet the ex-Bayer Leverkusen star has struggled badly since the £71m deal brought him to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea sit eighth in the Premier League, five points off the top four
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)
Lampard is a Chelsea legend but his decision not to have more experience in his backroom staff may now be questioned as an older head could have helped him and his No2 Jody Morris while Joe Edwards is also very much part of the set-up.
However, many younger managers have brought in an older head and that may explain why rumours about Avram Grant returning in some capacity may have surfaced, although they have been played down despite Lampard being reluctant to dismiss the idea.
Lampard has been brutally honest in his assessment of recent performances and also about the level of the squad as he has claimed they lack experience to challenge for the title.
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Frank Lampard's team made waves during the summer by splashing over £250million to bring in the likes of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva.
It has given them one of the Premier League's most potent attacks – but behind them remains a defence that continues to leak goals, with 3-3 draws against West Brom and Southampton already behind them.
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That may not go down well with a group of players who have a lot of international caps and those who joined to challenge for the title.
But it was also clear that the players lacked confidence at Leicester and self belief is a huge issue amid a run of just two wins from their last eight Premier League games.
That has left them five points off the top four having played more games than most of their rivals which is a huge concern.
Lampard is still bullish about his chances of turning things around and his first year in the job must be seen as an overwhelming success as he got Chelsea into the top four while the club was under a transfer ban and also sold its best player in Eden Hazard.
This is the first really bad run of his managerial reign and Chelsea always knew it would be emotional decision but also a gamble to bring him back and these are also difficult and unprecedented times.
But Lampard’s credit in the bank at Chelsea is arguably already buying him time where others may have been sacked in the past.
But last year’s achievements point to the fact that they realise Lampard is a very good manager in the making and if they act now then they may regret it in the future.