Premier League • England

Boehly ‘draining’ Lampard with costly Chelsea decision as Owen emphasises ‘first thing’ Blues must change

Frank Lampard as Chelsea interim manager

The squad size at Chelsea is too big and has been “draining” managers, Michael Owen has said after their elimination from the Champions League.

Chelsea suffered a 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid on Tuesday night in an identical scoreline to the result from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final. The 4-0 aggregate defeat has ended Chelsea’s journey in the competition.

And given their form this season in the Premier League, it could be a while before they are back in Europe’s top competition – or any UEFA tournament, for that matter.

Chelsea are currently in the bottom half of the English top-flight table. It seems clear by now that owner Todd Boehly’s decision to bring in an abundance of new players has not paid off.

Graham Potter struggled to manage the large Chelsea squad, eventually paying the price after just seven months in charge. And now, his interim replacement Frank Lampard – now on a run of four consecutive defeats – is dealing with the same issues.

Speaking on BT Sport (18/04 at 22:20) in the wake of Chelsea’s exit from the competition, ex-Real Madrid striker Owen blamed the bloated size of the Chelsea squad for their bad fortune.

READ MORE – Next Chelsea manager: Top coach races ‘ahead of Luis Enrique’ to become prime Boehly candidate after positive talks held

Owen said: “When you look at the playing staff and the players they’ve brought in, I still think there’s some great players here. It’s an incredibly talented team.

“I think they’ve got the basis of… I think they’ve got everything, haven’t they? They’ve got the great training ground, everything about them is very good.

“But they’ve almost done it the wrong way round. They’ve just gone and bought everyone and now there’s a big problem.”

Owen insists Chelsea must trim their squad

The pundit continued: “So I think the first thing they’ve got to do is trim the squad. That is draining managers, I’m certain of it.

“I asked the question to Frank Lampard before the game. When you go into a training ground and you’ve got 30-odd players, you can bet your bottom dollar you walk through the door and think, oh, who’s next? Who’s going to knock on my door next?

“And it drains you having to keep 15 people happy before you can then concentrate on improving your team. You’re having to deal with 15 unhappy players.

“It must be so draining. They’ve got to do that before anything.”

There have been several reports about which players Chelsea could clear out in the summer, which suggests they realise what needs to be done.

Chelsea’s next opportunity to turn things around will be a Premier League match against Brentford on Wednesday, April 26. In an illustration of how far Chelsea have fallen recently, their fellow west-London side – who have impressively punched above their weight this season – will go into the game above them in the table.

It will be the first of seven remaining games on the schedule for one of Chelsea’s most painful seasons in recent memory, before a summer of some tough decisions.

READ MOREFrank Lampard encouraged by Chelsea showing despite UCL exit; insists he ‘won’t let anyone off the hook’