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The brutality of modern football

3 min read

The sacking of Frank Lampard as manager of Chelsea FC that occurred last Monday, has left fans and pundits with many different opinions. There have been talks about the bad treatment reserved to a club legend, how unfair his hiring was in the first place and questions on the sacking itself, despite few fans agree with Chelsea’s decision due to Lampard’s lack of preparation to hold that position.

One of those who gave his opinion was Jose Mourinho who said that what happened to Frank Lampard was the brutality of modern football and that leads us to talk a little about the extent to which the responsibility of a manager reaches. Are poor results just the manager’s fault? Do projects really exist in modern football? Why is it so difficult for the board to support a manager? Well, let’s start by talking about the manager’s responsibilities that go through the tactical, the technical, the physical and the management of the group in addition to maintaining a fluid relationship and constant communication with the director of football and the board.

In most cases, managers get sacked due to poor results. However, these dismissals do not come with an analysis of the tactical, technical, physical or management aspects of the group. The results of the matches are simply taken into account. In a football game, the striker can miss three or four one-on-one chances or the center back can make two blunders that lead to goals against and quite possibly the result of the game is not good. Thinking about it coldly, these are situations that seem not to be the responsibility of a manager.

On the other hand, if the idea of the club is to have a project, as is often said, that idea must bear the bad results so that, once that stage is over, the fruits of the project can begin to be seen. One of the best examples of projects was that of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal FC, who changed the club’s idea of the game that, historically, was very different from what the Frenchman proposed, and the way the club carried out the signings, betting on a better scouting network that will lead to discovering players with a lot of potential before they reach it. A project of this type is quite difficult to carry out today because results prevail over any idea.

The support of the director of football, board, president or owner is very relative and volatile, and it can be greatly affected by the personal relationship with the manager or by external pressures such as that of the fans or the media. An example to highlight is that of manager Gian Piero Gasperini in Atalanta BC who had problems with the team’s star, Alejandro “Papu” Gómez, and the president decided to support the manager over the player, respecting the club’s project. These cases are very rare and it is more common to see cases like Thomas Tuchel’s at PSG. In the particular case of Frank Lampard, as it has been learned, only Ben Chilwell was a request by the English manager, with the rest of the Chelsea signings being imposed by the club and that already forced Frank Lampard to change his planning to adapt to what he had in the squad. If those players are not performing as expected, it should not be the manager’s full responsibility, beyond his little experience in coaching.

The subject is much more extensive and requires much more analysis than what is being done in these words but I consider that it opens the possibility of thinking a little more about whether a manager is solely responsible for the situation of a club despite being the one who often suffers the consequences.

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