Frank Lampard fears Chelsea could abandon the youth revolution that underpinned his Stamford Bridge tenure, the PA news agency understands.
Lampard was sacked by Chelsea on Monday, with the Blues languishing ninth in the Premier League table after five defeats in their last eight league matches.
Thomas Tuchel is set to be named as Lampard’s replacement, with the German manager challenged to steer Chelsea straight back into the top four.
Lampard is understood to fear that the Blues could now plot a course back towards focusing on high-profile recruits, at the expense of homegrown talent.
Former Paris St Germain boss Tuchel has never shied away from disagreement with players or club boards, and that headstrong approach could jar with the Blues’ demanding hierarchy.
Tuchel is well-versed managing big egos and bigger stars though, and is expected to call upon Chelsea to back him with frontline signings in the long-run for his reign to be a success.
Former Chelsea and England midfielder Lampard had little choice but to trust in youth in his first season in charge, with the club under a transfer embargo.
The 42-year-old ushered academy graduates Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Fikayo Tomori and more into Chelsea’s senior ranks last season.
But after £220million of investment in the summer, Lampard still stuck with many of his trusted young academy graduates.
Lampard’s last telling act as Chelsea boss was to hand Mount the Blues captaincy for the first time for Sunday’s 3-1 FA Cup win over Luton.
With the writing already on the wall for his exit, Lampard handing Mount the armband proved as much a thank you for the 22-year-old’s unwavering performances as it was a pointed message to Chelsea’s board.
By branding Mount as captaincy material at just 22, Lampard was hoping to extend the legacy of his youth revolution long beyond his own west London tenure.
There was even less ambiguity in Lampard’s leaving statement released through the League Managers’ Association.
“They are the future of this club,” said Lampard, in paying tribute to his cohort of homegrown stars.
Lampard is understood to remain convinced in the genuine quality of the academy stars he blooded at the Blues, but is concerned Roman Abramovich’s ruthlessness, coupled with Tuchel’s overhaul, could hinder their progress.
Lampard is thought to be keen on a quick return to management, with Chelsea’s record goalscorer determined to make a success of his coaching career.
And Rangers boss and Lampard’s ex-England team-mate Steven Gerrard backed the sacked Chelsea manager for a speedy return to the dugout.
“Obviously I’m gutted for Frank, he’s an ex-team-mate of mine, someone I respect greatly,” said Gerrard.
“But knowing the guy, he will be back in no time. He will dust himself down and get back involved. He will use this time to spend with his family.
“I’m disappointed for him. I thought it was a very swift exit on the back of a positive result at the weekend.
“But I don’t know the details. I don’t know how it’s been for him, I don’t know the relationships that he’s had inside the club.
“But I did think it was an opportunity for Chelsea to really reach out and support him during this tough period rather than do what they have done.
“But Chelsea have got history for that so it was no surprise.”
Morris: Exit tough to take
Lampard’s assistant Jody Morris has also left Stamford Bridge, and thanked Chelsea’s board for the chance to coach his boyhood club.
“It’s hurt twice previously that I’ve had to leave this great club, but it’s been on my terms and both times it was done with the bigger picture for myself and my family in mind – yesterday was tough to take on all levels,” Morris wrote on Instagram.
“I’ve always felt lucky to be able to say I’ve played for the team I’ve supported since I was a young boy growing up on North End Road.
“I am also immensely proud to say I’ve been stood next to our gaffa Frank Lampard who has worked tirelessly to improve the players and the culture every single day.
“There has never been a bunch in that dugout that cared more inside Stamford Bridge!
“I’m even prouder of the work that has gone on day-in, day-out at Cobham in what has been the toughest period anybody has had to face in charge.
“Thank you to Mr Abramovich and Marina Granovskaia for allowing me to fulfil one of my dreams. Chelsea is and always will be my club no matter what.”