Gary Neville believes big expectations fuelled by Chelsea's bumper transfer spending cost Frank Lampard.
Lampard was sacked on Monday morning, just 18 months after taking the helm at Stamford Bridge, with the club ninth in the Premier League table.
The Blues' all-time leading goalscorer secured Champions League qualification and an FA Cup final spot in a successful first season in charge but though he was given more than £200m to spend on new players in the summer in a bid to close the gap, Chelsea are 11 points behind leaders Manchester United and five off Liverpool in fourth.
Sky Sports' Neville admits he had hoped the Blues legend would have been given more time in the post - but conceded a summer outlay on the likes of Kai Havertz and Timo Werner had fuelled an increasing hunger for "instant results" and said Lampard had been "exposed to Chelsea's model" when it came to managers.
"I'm not wholly surprised, as much as I would've been this time last week," Neville told Sky Sports News.
"There were rumours starting to surface towards the end of the week that Frank was coming under pressure. When that happens at Chelsea, the end is pretty much a consistent one whereby the rumours start to come out and then it happens pretty quickly.
"I was a little surprised when I heard the news given that Frank has only had a short amount of time with a new group of players, but he was given a period last year when the club were under a transfer embargo, and that almost shielded him.
"He did a great job in that period but the minute the club started spending the money that they did in the summer and brought those players in, it was always going to bring a lot more expectation. We know what happens at Chelsea when more expectations come, in the sense that they want instant results.
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"With one of the biggest budgets in the league and the biggest transfer spends comes greater expectations, and at Chelsea over many years their approach to managers has been very consistent. Frank knew that when he took the job.
"I don't think he'd want anyone to feel sorry for him. He'd just want an understanding of the fact that he went into a club that has always been like this with managers and he knew that he would've had to succeed straight away.
"The inconsistent form and results of the last six weeks has cost him probably a lot sooner than he would've imagined because of the fact that he's a club legend. All of us would've perhaps felt he'd have been given a little bit more time than he has been, but I suppose it's unsurprising in the way in which it's happened.
"My problem with Chelsea in the past is that it's always felt that the players have stuck the knife into the manager at times; I would hope that it's not happened on this occasion."
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Mikel Arteta and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have withstood recent spells of pressure at Arsenal and Manchester United respectively but Neville believes Lampard would have been under no illusion as to the demands and methods at Stamford Bridge.
"The clubs are completely different models compared to Arsenal and Manchester United," Neville said.
"I know United sacked David Moyes after eight months but that was pretty much a unique situation. United normally give managers a couple of years or so, Arsenal have historically given managers time, but Chelsea have never been like that.
"Frank knew that when he took the job and knew it was the case from day one. He knew he wouldn't get three years come what may. It wouldn't have been explained to him that he needed results to get Chelsea to the top of the league. Spending all that money in the summer accelerated that.
"In a perfect world, you'd always say that managers should get two to two-and-a-half years to prove himself, but at Chelsea that's never been the case.
"It's incomparable to say that Manchester United and Arsenal treat managers in the same way as Chelsea. They have a different model and a different way of doing things that's been successful for Chelsea and Frank knew that when he took the job."
'Lampard will be a better manager for experience'
Lampard was appointed Chelsea head coach on a three-year deal back in July 2019, after leading Derby to the Championship play-off final in his first season in management.
Neville believes Lampard had to seize the opportunity and insists he will benefit from the experience in the long term.
"Frank was left with no choice but to take the job. It's OK some people saying 'you can pick and choose your jobs, maybe he wasn't ready for it', but there's no way you can turn down the Chelsea job if you're Frank Lampard.
"The biggest thing that I would hope now off the back of that Chelsea job that Frank is able to build a brilliant managerial career.
"He's a better manager today, I can guarantee you, than he was at the start of this season and certainly at the start of last season.
"He's had two-and-a-half years in coaching, a year at Derby and a year-and-a-half coaching at Chelsea.
"Last season, with a transfer embargo, it was about young players coming through. This year, he's had to put together a team very quickly with five or six new star signings and obviously that's been a little bit more difficult but that would be the case for many managers.
"I just hope that he's able to now go straight back into it and get another job and continue his managerial career.
"It's a big moment for Frank and for Chelsea, but having seen what we have over the last 10-15 years at that club, all of those who have been sacked have gone on to manage and I'd hope that's the same for Frank."
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Thomas Tuchel, who left PSG in December and previously managed Borussia Dortmund, is set to be Chelsea's next head coach, with plans under way to appoint him before the game against Wolves on Wednesday.
"He's managed at big clubs and he's got a lot of experience," Neville said.
"He knows a few of the players who are currently at Chelsea. It's another top manager who is coming into the Premier League.
"We've been blessed over the past few years with some absolutely outstanding managers to see the league rise to being the best in Europe again with the performances of clubs in the Champions League improving, with Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino getting to semi-finals and finals.
"Tuchel is another manager who has got that sort of pedigree, so it's a great addition to the Premier League if he does come.
"It's Chelsea, and that's what Chelsea do. Frank is not a victim of his poor performance as a manager, he's just someone who's been exposed to Chelsea's model of releasing and employing managers every 12 to 18 months if things don't go as well as they want. That's a pretty high standard that they live to.
"I don't worry for Frank. I'm sure he'll go on to have a great managerial career as I feel he handled himself fantastically well in that job. It's a tough job and he's done well at it.
"Tuchel will be exposed to exactly the same rules as Frank. We'll be talking about him being let go in the next 18 months to two years, I'm pretty sure of that."
Redknapp: I thought Frank would be different
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp:
Of course, I'm very surprised like everyone. Once the results start to go against you at a club like Chelsea the pressure then does come on. Rightly or wrongly, the club have had a lot of success hiring and firing managers. They're not afraid to do that.
I feel with someone like Frank, who understands that club better than anybody, he knew when he took the job it was the price on the ticket. He knew there would come a time when he would be under pressure due to poor results. Before December, they were on a 17-game unbeaten run, but he knew there would be times when he would come under pressure and that's when he needed the support.
Or they would take the view to change the manager, and they've taken that route which is to me a surprise as I felt they'd see Frank differently. I thought he could be the first manager under Roman Abramovich to really be given time to build a team. He's the first manager to ever bring through young players at that team.
He has brought through Mason Mount, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Billy Gilmour, Fikayo Tomori, Tammy Abraham which in the long term will save the club an absolute fortune.
Frank is a proud man and he'll feel bitterly disappointed and a little bit upset but he's a realist who understands football. He knows that if the results and the performances aren't there, at a club like Chelsea, this is the outcome.
He's an experienced man who will bounce back from this. He'll learn from this experience, and think about how he would do things differently if he wants to go back into management.
I think Frank will look back and think 'it's harder than ever now, management'. We've seen it this week with Jurgen Klopp. We all thought he had the keys to the safe to go out and buy whoever he wanted at Liverpool, but even he alluded to the fact it's not so easy to go out and buy players.
Frank was in a similar situation in the summer where a lot of the players who came into the club. I'm sure he thinks they're all very good players, but some of them might not have been his signings. That's modern-day football and that's how difficult it is.
Chelsea have got a good squad. Whoever takes over, and it looks like being Thomas Tuchel, he'll look at this squad and feel he has got a really big opportunity to build something here. He'll reap the benefits of what Frank has brought in because he has got a nice blend of youth and experience, but it takes time.
When you bring in so many players, it takes time to blood and give them the experience. Timo Werner hasn't worked out yet but I think he will be a really good player in time. Kai Havertz is going to be a really good player, Christian Pulisic is going to be looking at it hoping that his previous manager is going to be working with him. They've got a lovely blend of young players. I'm sure that Frank would've got it right given time, a little bit like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has at Manchester United.
I was one of those people a year ago thinking, 'Solskjaer won't last... no way', but now look at him. His side are top of the table and that's how crazy football is. Sometimes, what you need is a bit of belief and a board that trusts you, but Chelsea don't do it that way. And because of their success, sometimes it's hard to argue with but I'm sure the fans will be feeling a little bit raw after this one because we're not talking about an everyday player.
We're talking about their greatest ever player and someone who is more than just a footballer for that club. He'll feel hurt but Frank will get over it and come back stronger. There's no doubt Chelsea will react to this and they'll pick up results too. I wouldn't be surprised if they do finish in the top four.