Frank Lampard says he's "disappointed not to have had the time" to turn around Chelsea's fortunes after being sacked the English Premier League club in a move that has sparked outrage across the football world.
Lampard led Chelsea to a fourth-placed Premier League finish and the FA Cup final in his first season in charge.
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However, he failed to match much greater expectations this season after the club spent a reported £220 million ($300 million) on new players in the summer transfer window.
A run of five defeats in their last eight Premier League matches has seen Chelsea slip to ninth, 11 points behind leaders Manchester United.
Sunday's 3-1 FA Cup fourth-round win against Championship side Luton was not enough to save the former England midfielder.
"It has been a huge privilege and an honour to manage Chelsea, a club that has been a big part of my life for so long," Lampard said in a statement posted on his Instagram account.
"I am disappointed not to have had the time this season to take the club forward and bring it to the next level."
The club said it had been a "very difficult decision" to part ways with their all-time record goalscorer, who won three league titles and the Champions League during his 13-year career as a player at Stamford Bridge.
"Recent results and performances have not met the club's expectations, leaving the club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement," Chelsea said.
In a rare public statement, the club's Russian owner Roman Abramovich said: "This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him.
"He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers."
The Chelsea owner has been notoriously ruthless at sacking managers in the past the dismissal of the Chelsea club legend has nevertheless been met with anger in the football world.
Reports that Frank Lampard will be sacked by @ChelseaFC today. Utterly ludicrous after his first bad run. It was always going to need time given so many new signings feeling their way into a new club. Patience being a virtue is seldom recognised in this sport. They never learn.
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) January 25, 2021
Never a shock when Chelsea change managers. They do it so often. But quite ruthless to fire Frank Lampard at first sign of trouble. Deserved more time after fine first season. For Chelsea fans , it’s like shooting Bambi.
— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) January 25, 2021
Chelsea’s insatiable appetite for trophies and their reckless culture of changing a manager everytime the team endures a brief run of poor results will one day lead them to relegation. Totally disgraceful to dismiss Frank Lampard in such a cruel manner.
— Wailing Rudie (@IIsaacManda) January 25, 2021
🙁 Very disappointed in #chelseafc today. #franklampard deserved more time. I know the results having been great but form comes and goes! He should have gotten the chance to turn it around! #disgraceful treatment of a club legend IMO!
— Finesse SV (@finesse_sv) January 25, 2021
Chelsea sacking Frank Lampard a day after they won in the FA Cup is baffling.
If they were going to sack him, why not do it after the Leicester defeat? The way this was handled is a disgraceful thing to do to a club legend.
What a sad way to treat your greatest ever player.
— EiF (@EiFSoccer) January 25, 2021
Utterly gutted by the sacking of Frank Lampard. A young ambitious manager who clearly needed time considering the number of new additions he brought into the squad. Why back him with new signings then? Disgraceful ! @ChelseaFC
— Selorm 🇬🇭 (@selooormm) January 25, 2021
Look how successful Sir Alex Ferguson era was ... managers need time. I’m a United fan but think it’s disgusting he has been sacked! .. always liked Frank Lampard. Good luck to him
— lizrussell (@lizmogeyrussell) January 25, 2021
Frank Lampard being sacked just epitomises @ChelseaFC. Disgusting way to treat a Manager who is still in the Champions League, FA Cup and 5 points off 4th...
— Ollie (@OllieAllen123) January 25, 2021
The Blues are set to appoint Thomas Tuchel as their new manager, after the German was fired by French champions PSG in December.
Chelsea hope to have Tuchel on the bench in time for the visit of Wolves on Wednesday.
Huge investment comes up short for Lampard
After serving a transfer ban in Lampard's first summer window, Chelsea were by far the biggest spenders in the EPL this season after splashnig out on Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and Edouard Mendy.
However, that outlay has failed to translate into improved results, with Lampard always in danger of getting the axe if such a scenario transpired.
Lampard's Premier League points-per-game average of 1.67 is the lowest for any Chelsea manager since Abramovich arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2003.
His departure marks the 14th managerial change since Abramovich's takeover, which transformed the London club into English and European heavyweights.
A number of younger players handed their breakthrough in the Chelsea first team by Lampard, such as Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour, Tammy Abraham and Reece James, posted messages of thanks to their former manager on social media.
"As a Chelsea fan growing up I’ve always looked up to you, idolised you. I can’t explain what it’s been like to play under you, the whole journey has been surreal," said James on Instagram.
"I cannot thank you enough for putting your trust into me and giving me the opportunity to play for my boyhood club!"
Lampard's first managerial posting was at second-tier Derby. In his one season in charge in 2018/19, they reached the Championship play-off final, where they lost to Aston Villa.
"I don't worry for Frank. I'm sure he'll go on to have a great managerial career as I feel he handled himself fantastically well in that job," said Lampard's former England teammate Gary Neville, who predicted Tuchel will also suffer from Abramovich's hire and fire culture.
"Tuchel will be exposed to exactly the same rules as Frank. We'll be talking about him being let go in the next 18 months to two years, I'm pretty sure of that."
The German only became available a month ago when he left PSG, less than five months after taking them to the Champions League final, which they lost to Bayern Munich.
The 47-year-old won back-to-back league titles with PSG, but that was not enough to satisfy the club's Qatari owners, who replaced him with former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Prior to PSG, Tuchel impressed at Borussia Dortmund, having started his managerial career with Augsburg and then Mainz.