Updated: Sep 28
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard should be under pressure. Plain and simple. His side did show some heart, character, and desire as they fought back from three behind at halftime to draw 3-3 at promoted West Brom Saturday.
Regardless, Chelsea have only four points from their first three Premier League games of the year in what has been a hugely underwhelming start to the season.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has never tolerated mediocrity. And every other manager would be sitting on the hot seat at this point in the season. If Maurizio Sarri, Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Di Matteo, etc. had a poor performance win at bottom half Brighton, gotten run through by Liverpool at home in a loss, destroyed lower league Barnsley in the Carabao Cup, and then escaped with a draw at a newly promoted side as Chelsea manager to begin the year, they would have a very warm seat to sit on in their office.
And Lampard should be no different. He should not receive any special treatment because of his status as a club legend.
Managing is not about what you did in the past or who you are as a person. It's a job. And like any job, it's about what you can do now and will do in the future in your role.
Chelsea certainly believe he's the right man to lead the club. They spent over £200 million pounds this summer on new signings, signing which have yet to impress.
At West Brom, like the previous games this year and all of last year, the disastrous defense sat at the heart of the Blues' problems. Within five minutes, Marcos Alonso headed a ball in his own half centrally right to Callum Robinson who sprinted towards goal and put the Baggies ahead.
On 25 minutes, Thiago Silva made himself one of Chelsea's own as he too made a defensive error. He didn't control a back pass and Robinson once again pounced, sprinted to goal, and scored. Two minutes later, Alonso lost his man and Reece James lazily watched Kyle Bartley hit home a corner.
"It is two points lost at the end of the day. And that is no disrespect to West Brom" Lampard said in his post-match interview. "It was mistakes, clear mistakes, that cost us. You can have as many meetings as you want but with those mistakes you give yourself a mountain to climb," he continued.
"There is a lot we can keep getting better at," the gaffer said. And boy do they have a lot to improve.
Individual mistakes happen. And Lampard can't take the blame for those. However, in 21 Premier League away games since Lampard took charge, Chelsea have kept only one clean sheet. And according to Opta, Chelsea have conceded more away goals, 42, than any other team since the beginning of last year.
Last season, Chelsea conceded 15 goals from set-pieces. Nine of those came from corners. And so far this season, the Blues are back to it. These horrific defensive stats are a constant, not just a string of individual mistakes. These do fall squarely on Lampard's shoulders. He has failed to fix the defense.
He has managed the team for more than a season and still doesn't know who his best center backs are, constantly changing between Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen, and Antonio Rudiger, the latter who seems destined to leave the club after missing the matchday squad the last few outings. Unacceptable.
Likely, Lampard is just waiting for Ben Chilwell to return to full fitness so he can deploy his preferred back four of Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Thiago Silva's partner, and Reece James. And then in goal, new signing Edouard Mendy.
Hopefully, that consistent back four will provide much-needed stability to a shaky defense.
Lampard needs to decide if N'Golo Kante will play as a defensive midfielder in a two with Jorginho or Mateo Kovacic. Or, will the distribution duties fall to the World Cup winner, flanked by Mason Mount, who scored the first goal in the comeback, and Kovacic in midfield.
Thankfully the gaffer doesn't have as many questions about his attack as defense. Kai Havertz is slowly but surely getting up to speed playing centrally, evidenced by his beautiful one-two with Callum Hudson-Odoi for the second goal against West Brom.
Timo Werner has shown flashes, including hitting the bar against the Baggies, but he hasn't scored yet. That last bit of sharpness needed in front of goal is just about there. Will he play as a center forward or out wide and where does that leave Tammy Abraham, last year's top scorer, and the man who netted the equalizer?
Once Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic return to fitness, Lampard will have a lethal front four, regardless of who he picks and in what positions. He just has to make sure the front four's efforts don't go to waste with defenders sabotaging them inadvertently.
Following this underwhelming start to the year, should fans and the board remain patient with this team and club legend Frank Lampard in charge? Absolutely. Why spend £200 million on his preferred players, only to sack him within weeks? And with that many new faces, some who haven't even featured yet, it takes time for the squad to gel.
Still, Abramovich set the precedent long ago. Managers don't get a lot of wiggle room. Any wobbling, any hint of not finishing top four, and the manager gets the sack.
Pressure builds quickly at Stamford Bridge. And it should for Lampard right now. He should be held to the same standard as any other manager to come through the doors despite his cemented place in Chelsea history.
After a lackluster start to the season, the seat warmer in Lampard's office doesn't have to be on high. But it certainly should be on, getting nice and toasty.