Frank Lampard opens up on Chelsea axing and brutal Antonio Rudiger and Kepa calls

In pictures: Watford v Chelsea

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Chelsea hero Frank Lampard admits he ‘knew what was coming’ when he was called into the Stamford Bridge boardroom moments before he was sacked. Lampard was relieved of his duties as Blues manager in January before the club appointed Thomas Tuchel as their new boss.

Lampard enjoyed a successful first season in charge of Chelsea as he navigated the challenge of dealing with a transfer embargo to secure Champions League qualification courtesy of a fourth-place Premier League finish.

The former midfielder started his second season well but the team suffered a dismal run of form over the festive period as they won just once in seven outings.

Lampard then guided his side to wins against Fulham and Luton – but those results weren’t enough to earn him more time in the role.

“Well, we’d beaten Luton in the FA Cup fourth round,” Lampard told Gary Neville on The Overlap when quizzed about his sacking.

“Then the next morning I got a message from Bruce Buck, the chairman, saying, ‘can you move training and come and meet us in the boardroom.’

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“That first message as well – you kind of wake up and think, ‘let’s have a flick through Instagram’.

“I’m joking but once the club makes that decision to be fair there’s no nice way to do it.

“When I met Bruce and Marina (Granovskaia) it was very cordial. I knew what was coming then as well.”

Lampard has been credited with bringing through a string of young players in west London, including Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham.

But the 43-year-old has been criticised for not recognising the impact Antonio Rudiger could have had on the side.

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Rudiger was a bit-part player under Lampard but has gone on to star under Tuchel and was key to the side’s Champions League success last season.

“We had a big squad and were leaving out players,” Lampard admitted. “We needed the squad to be, for me, less at that point.

“It’s tough because we had three left-backs, and you can only play one generally, and five centre-backs.

“Fikayo, who had been brilliant for me at Derby and very, very good for us in the first year at Chelsea, I could see and feel he was going to be a very good centre-back for Chelsea for years to come.

“But when you’ve got five it’s Fikayo or Rudiger, or [Andreas] Christensen – two of those are at home for a game.”

Lampard has also admitted that his decision to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga for mega-money didn’t work out.

“When you’re aware of a £70million goalkeeper that you take out of the team you know it’s not a simple decision,” Lampard added.

“From the conversations we had he was very open that it was a tough time for him.

“I tried to have open conversations with him and it got to the point where it felt like I just had to make a change.

“I don’t think I’m being harsh on Kepa here because he is a talented goalkeeper but he had a tough year when I was there for whatever reason but I felt it was a position we could improve.

“[Edouard] Mendy was the result of that and he’s obviously been fantastic since he’s been at the club.”

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