Joe Cole says Chelsea made a big ‘mistake’ sacking Frank Lampard just 18 months after he returned to Stamford Bridge as he believes the club’s culture was beginning to change for the better under his former team-mate.
Asked whether he had spoken to Lampard, Cole told JOE.co.uk: ‘I messaged Frank on Saturday, just the usual one, good luck for the game against Luton and I didn’t see it coming.
‘Now when I step back and I put my pundit head on and I know the history of Chelsea, you almost feel a bit soppy for not seeing it coming because that’s the culture of the club.
‘They’ve gone through managers and Roman and his team and his directors would argue the fact that since Roman’s come into the job, no club has won more trophies than Chelsea and that’s a fact.
‘Logic tells you you need stability, you need football men in your club trying to build a culture and, from the outside, I thought Frank did a terrific job and I think he tried to build a culture.
‘He was bringing through Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, Chelsea players through and through and he possibly overachieved last year.’
- Premier League to enforce new rule & increase substitutes to nine from February 6
- Mikel Arteta names Bruno Fernandes as best player in the Premier League
However, Cole feels player power may have contributed to Lampard’s sacking, a factor he fears could continue to be a ‘problem’ for the new coach Thomas Tuchel.
‘It’s a real tough one for me to talk about because I know everyone involved. I know Frank, I know Petr Cech, I know Jody [Morris], I know the owner, I know the board members so it’s a tough one to comment on but I’ve got to say what I feel,’ Cole added.
‘They would argue this isn’t a problem because Chelsea have won everything over the last 20 years, more than anyone, but the problem at Chelsea has always been players at the club having too much of an opinion on what’s going on. They have a direct line to the people upstairs.
‘This has happened for a long time. So the problem at Chelsea, in my opinion, is that needs to change if there’s ever going to be continuity because the sacking of Frank was the harshest out of all the sackings of the managers.
‘Frank’s not had a bad spell in 18 months. He took a team from nothing, lost their best player with no real recruitment coming through and he built them into something.
‘Again, people will throw it at me that he’s my mate and I’ve got emotional ties to him and that’s fair enough. But when I think logically, that needs to stop. If Tuchel’s to be a success, that needs to stop.
‘In six or seven months time, there’s going to be 11 players left out the team, three or four of them really out of form and not performing because that’s football, they can’t go through their agents and start utterings of being discontented and letting that fester.
‘It wouldn’t have happened in the 1990s or the 2000s. Imagine if [Sir Alex] Ferguson had found out three or four of his players’ agent were talking.
‘It’s not a bad thing to say about the way the system is at Chelsea because they can all sit there and argue they’ve been successful and you’ve got to hold your hands up to that. But if I want the club to be more successful, it’s got to be stability and I just feel a mistake was made letting Frank go.
‘I don’t know much about Tuchel but hopefully time will tell whether I’m right or wrong on that.’
‘From an outside perspective, he (Lampard) was trying to change the culture of the players and I think he nearly got it,’ Cole went on.
‘You have your Callums, your Tammys, your Reeces, your Billy Gilmours… there was a core ready to be moulded and the club could have built around that and brought the quality in.
‘And that’s why I thought the first real bad run of his tenure there and he gets sacked. ‘You have to remember, it was only 50 days before his sacking that they were top of the league.’