Frank Lampard defended the right of Chelsea owner Todd Boehly to communicate his frustration to the players in the dressing room, after reports he told the squad their season had been “embarrassing” following Saturday’s defeat to Brighton.
Boehly was photographed responding to a section of supporters at Stamford Bridge who criticised his running of the club before addressing the team immediately after Lampard’s post-match talk.
There has been little observable progress at Chelsea since transfer activity in January that took the owner’s spending to over £500million during his almost 12 months in control, with results and performances having taken a further dip since Graham Potter was removed as head coach on April 2.
Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Real Madrid represents the club’s last opportunity to keep their season alive, with hopes of qualifying for next season’s competition via their league placing long since extinguished. They trail 2-0 from last Wednesday’s meeting in the Bernabeu.
After a winless run of five games in the league they look increasingly unlikely to finish high enough to qualify for the Europa League or Conference League, meaning they face the prospect of a first season not playing in Europe since 2016-17.
That could prove hugely damaging financially following the last year’s transfer spend, with the club almost certain to have to offload players to have any hope of satisfying Financial Fair Play rules.
Lampard has no problem with Boehly intervention
Despite the club’s problems, caretaker boss Lampard said he was in favour of owners sharing their feelings with players.
“I am comfortable with that,” he said. “I think, for me, there was maybe some criticism of our old owner (Roman Abramovich) of not coming to games. That wasn’t always true. When an owner is very invested in wanting the team to improve, it’s their prerogative to have the input they want.
“The first moments I had as a player of owner coming into the dressing room happened here at Chelsea. I remember being really happy. You could touch them, you could high five them and feel them.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing in terms of identity of the club. I have no problem with it. If any owner comes in and wants to be positive and wants to to speak to the players, it’s absolutely his part to do that.
“It’s regular in the modern day. It shows passion.”
Chelsea ownership coming under fire
Much of the supporter angst felt about the current slide had previously been directed at former boss Potter, who was sacked after only seven months in the job, leaving the team 11th in the Premier League.
That has now shifted towards the ownership, with vocal criticism directed at Boehly and his Clearlake Capital consortium during and after the Brighton defeat.
Fans have questioned why a club that won the Champions League in 2021 and finished third in the Premier League last season have undergone such obvious regression in terms of results despite such heavy outlay.
“In terms of the ownership and fans, passion goes both ways,” Lampard said. “I don’t think the ownership or anybody would come and be involved in Chelsea and expect anything else than the fans to have complete passion for wanting the club to do well.
“We’ve been fortunate to be very successful in the last 20 years, which means we want more if it. No-one needs schooling on that. It’s very clear.
“We’re in the early stages of a process. When you look at processes in the Premier League and teams that want to rise to stay at the top – and we’re just off that at the minute, we know – people always question everything in the early parts of the process.
“It’s normal. It’s not a problem. We can all be passionate together, working in the same direction to get where we want to be.”