WEDNESDAY’S BIG HEADLINES

To be Frank, this isn’t working

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Mourinho season [noun, More-een-eeio see-zuhn ] – a football campaign which witnesses a spectacular collapse, resulting in a manager being sacked halfway through. A term coined by former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte.

Yep, it’s not looking good for Frank Lampard, following a 2-0 defeat at Leicester City last night which leaves the Blues floundering in eighth place after a run of five losses in their past eight games in the Premier League.

And it’s not just the numbers which come to bury Lampard, but the manner of the defeat to Brendan Rodgers’ now-table toppers. Last night, Chelsea were very simply a football club who had run out of both confidence and ideas. They conceded two sloppy goals, first being caught out by a set-piece which resulted in Wilfred Ndidi belting one in from range and then seeing Reece James fail to track James Maddison for the second.

Maddison, who gave one of the most charmingly open post-match interviews in recent memory, inadvertently twisted the metaphorical knife buried deep in Lampard’s chest when casually dropping in, “we know they can switch off at set-pieces” and saying his goal, generated by a burst into the box, was reminiscent of, well, Lampard.

Lampard’s own post-match exchanges with Geoff Shreeves were rather less convivial and faced with the reality of the impotence of his own management, which could well leave him jobless pretty soon, Lampard reverted to what has been a familiar trope in recent weeks: blame his players.

"We were beaten by a better team. They were sharper than us, they ran more than us, they looked like a team in form and we looked like a team out of form," he said.

We were asleep in moments. I felt like there were quite a lot of moments in the first half where our sharpness wasn't there. The basics and bare minimums are to run, sprint and cover ground, and too many of our players didn't do it.

'It's not so rosy now' - Lampard under pressure after Leicester loss

On one level he’s totally correct: Reece James’s decision to not bother sprinting into the box to stop Maddison from scoring can only really be explained by Reece James. But these individual moments are symptoms of a bigger malaise. Highly-functioning and motivated teams don’t put in performances like this. And after spending £200m in the summer, Lampard has simply run out of excuses as to why this incredibly talented squad is failing most weeks. Now he has likely run out of time, too.

He’s been in enough Chelsea dressing rooms to know what happens when the players stop playing for the manager at Stamford Bridge. And anyone thinking that Roman Abramovich would grant extra clemency to a club legend needs to give their head a wobble. This is a man who only yesterday was named on a list provided by detained Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny of figures who should face sanctions, with Abramovich described as “one of the key enablers and beneficiaries of Russian kleptocracy.”

Hurting Frank Lampard’s feelings, or those of the supporters who still worship him, isn’t likely a major blip on his radar. And for Lampard, that’s a major problem.

Oh, and in the last Mourinho season, 2015-16, Leicester City won the league. Just saying.

Big Sam’s big mouth

Allardyce says he has 'bigger worries' than potential Snodgrass probe

West Ham saw off West Brom 2-1 in the other Premier League game on Tuesday night but the big story coming out of the match was instead around a potentially dodgy ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the two clubs which meant the Baggies didn’t play Robert Snodgrass.

The Scotland midfielder joined West Brom earlier this month but Sam Allardyce admitted before the match that Snodgrass was absent due to “an agreement between the clubs that he would not be allowed to play [in this game ]. We could only get the deal done with that.”

The problem here is simply that these agreements are not permitted by the Premier League. And after the match, Allardyce’s tune had changed a little.

“I can’t answer that. I’ll have to wait and see,” he said. “Before I answer anything that might cause me or West Ham any trouble then I’ll wait and see what the Premier League say but I’ve got bigger things to worry about."

David Moyes was also guarded when asked about the hot topic of the day: “I’m not sure it’s any of my business. I don’t think its anyone else’s. The Premier League have to do what they have to do.”

Watch this space.

Roma have a very normal one in Coppa Italia

It was an embarrassing night all round for Roma as they crashed out of the Coppa Italia with a 4-2 defeat to Spezia last night. Not just for the two red cards they suffered in the space of two minutes, but primarily for the fact that even if they had won, they would have booted out of the competition for making an illegal SIXTH substitution.

Six substitutions Jeremy, six? That’s insane.

https://i.eurosport.com/2021/01/20/2974805.png

Manager Paulo Fonseca apparently thought he was able to bring on another player in extra time after already making five changes in normal time, but replacing Pedro with Ibanez was a sub too far. “If there is a problem, we have time to discuss that internally. There is a problem,” Fonseca told Rai Sport.

Roma, of course, have already had to forfeit a game this season after fielding an ineligible player against Hellas Verona. Maybe they can borrow someone from the social media team to help fill in as an administrative assistant…

Meanwhile, just check out the fourth Spezia goal…

IN OTHER NEWS

Christian Pulisic has done a big interview with GQ magazine and the internet has responded.

IN THE CHANNELS

Wow. Just wow.

RETRO CORNER

With Leicester sitting top of the table, let’s remember the greatest Premier League moment bar none: Andrea Bocelli making thousands, possibly millions, of people weep.

COMING UP

The Premier League matches just keep on coming with Manchester City fulfilling one of Aston Villa’s 27 matches in hand at 6pm before Manchester United go to Fulham looking to reclaim top spot at 8:15pm. We will have live text coverage on both of those, as well as Real Madrid’s match against Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey at 8pm.

There's no gentleman's agreements here so Andi Thomas can't wriggle out of tomorrow's Warm-Up...

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