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Sarri v Lampard: How Chelsea firewall has everyone confused & frustrated

COMMENT: Maybe there's a little cause and effect here. A bit of chicken or the egg. But there'll be some decision-makers inside Chelsea relieved - even grateful - that FIFA have held steadfast with their transfer ban this summer...

The managerial situation is a mess. Maurizio Sarri. Frank Lampard. Who's going? Who's staying? No-one knows. No-one bloody well knows. Oh, these aren't our words here, but an intermediary's this column is close to.

Without burning any bridges, it was made clear to us the confusion surrounding the whole Sarri saga hasn't just hit the Blues support. Even those eager to do business with the club have no idea who'll be in charge next season. The one saving grace actually being this window's transfer ban. But even then, our friendly agent, who is acting on behalf of three Brazilian clubs eager to relocate talent to the Premier League, pointed out he had to learn from the English press that Chelsea had chosen not to apply for a freeze on this window's suspension.

As mentioned, the ban does grant some relief to Chelsea's top brass. You can only imagine the chaos if the club was clear to make new signings with no sign of who their targets could expect to be playing for. Indeed, never mind those potential Chelsea players. The current lot are just as much in the dark.

The latest now is the board is trying to convince Sarri to stay. Oh, and they have not approached Lampard nor Derby County about bringing him back to Stamford Bridge.

Problem is, the horse has bolted. There's next to no chance now of Sarri reversing this decision. He knows he's wanted at Juventus. By the board. The staff. And the players - including Cristiano Ronaldo. And he'll be walking into a job on a deal worth 50 per cent more of his Blues contract. The time for Chelsea to act was three weeks ago. Sarri was willing to stay. He wanted to. After winning in Baku, the Italian confided to friends that he could see 'my project' fulfilling it's potential next season. He really didn't want to leave the job half done.

But there was nothing from Chelsea. Especially publicly. And that lack of public confidence essentially drove Sarri into Juve's arms. That they've been scrambling this week to rescue the situation is bordering on the ridiculous. The only thing keeping Sarri from putting pen to paper on Juve marked forms is Chelsea's insistence on compensation being paid.

The sad thing is, convincing Sarri to stay. Warning off Juve. It could've been so easy. Simply a few select interviews from a club official reinforcing their support for the manager would've done the trick. But for too long, there's been no-one at Chelsea willing to do that. And now it's all caught up with them.

Cesc Fabregas, having just left Chelsea for AS Monaco in January, nailed the problem perfectly last week. Finally one former Blue lifting the lid on how this unwillingness to keep the communication lines open between the club and the public affects everyone connected.

"The club doesn't come out and tell things the way they are," declared Cesc a fortnight ago, "so they just let the fans think whatever they want to think.

"They don't have enough information and someone should come out every now and then and talk to the press, say what's happening.

"If not there's so many questions marks around the club and the press talk and talk and talk. It just brings negativity.

"It should be always positivity surrounding everyone at the club."

Could the Catalan have summed things up any better? Only now this desire to work behind a public firewall hasn't just hit the players and the support, but now the top end of the business: their managerial plans.

The speculation is the U-turn was sparked by some inside the boardroom questioning Lampard's ability at this stage of a burgeoning coaching career to handle the club's demands.

Is Lampard ready? Beyond the tactics. The systems. All that will come in time. For this column, the most impressive action from Lampard last season was him grabbing Derby by the throat with his "doom and gloom" outburst. It was a real shot across the bows. A demand for unity. For positivity. For genuine cultural change. Such willingness to call people out does suggest he can handle the pressures of a bigger brief.

And there is a good argument to compare the Derby manager with a young Pep Guardiola. Like Lampard, Guardiola had just the one season below the LaLiga - with Barca B - before succeeding Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona.

But the difference being at the time, Joan Laporta resisted Massimo Moratti's attempts to whisk Lionel Messi away to Inter Milan. In contrast, Lampard will walk into a Chelsea dressing room sansEden Hazard - and with no opportunity to fill the void left by one of the club's greats.

However for the moment, this is all speculation. Whether the transfer ban has caused these delays, or only exacerbated them, Sarri is still Chelsea's manager. And Lampard Derby's. Or so we're told - though not by the club. Perish the thought.


Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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