GARY NEVILLE has explosively suggested Frank Lampard was part of a group of Chelsea players who called the media in a bid to get Andre Villas-Boas sacked in 2012.
Ex-Blues star Lampard, 42, was sacked by the Stamford Bridge club just 18 months into his three-year contract.
Many were surprised the ex-Derby boss wasn’t given more time to succeed after over-performing in 2019-20.
But Neville has claimed Lampard shouldn’t be shocked as he knows how Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich operates – even suggesting the fallen boss contributed to Villas-Boas’ downfall in 2012.
Speaking on The Gary Neville Podcast, the ex-England right-back claimed: “[Lampard’s sacking] wasn’t really a shock.
“I thought initially he would get more time, just to let them settle in but you can’t be surprised by Chelsea.
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“I go back to Napoli eight or nine years ago, when Villas-Boas had picked a team in the afternoon of a Champions League game.
“He left out Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and another big player at that time.
“I remember Chelsea players at that time ringing up members of the media and trying to get him out.
“Frank was part of that group.
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“It has been really a brutal football club for managers for many, many years.
“Lampard has suffered that brutality last week, so he should be the least of all surprised because he has been at the club when Villas-Boas was sacked, Scolari, and all the rest of them have come and gone.”
A representative for Lampard declined to comment after being approached by SunSport.
Villas-Boas lasted just nine months at Chelsea having joined from Porto – sacked midway through his debut season.
The Portuguese boss won just 19 of his 40 games in charge before being dismissed in March 2012, before taking over at Tottenham that summer.
Neville went on to say Lampard should remain ‘pragmatic’ over his sacking – claiming all axed Chelsea bosses believes they deserve more time.
The former Manchester United star continued: “He will be hurt and disappointed.
“But I hope he is pragmatic about it in the sense that it’s not a reflection upon him.
“Every manager at Chelsea gets sacked before they think they should.
“They don’t get the time they think they should. That’s what happens.
“It is a club that has a model that has worked and he knows that model.
“It is harsh but it’s not harsh at Chelsea because that is what Chelsea do.”
Neville went on to say Lampard is in a privileged position of being well ahead of his peers at this stage of his career.
He added: “For me, I never shed a tear for Frank the other day.
“Sometimes I feel sorry for managers, but I think Frank has had a massive experience.
“He has had a great experience at Derby, he has had a great experience at Chelsea…
“Where he is at now in his managerial career, he is a lot further ahead than most English managers have been, and that’s a real positive.”
Lampard was awarded £2million in compensation after his sacking.
And it’s since been claimed Abramovich never directly spoke to Lampard during his 18-month stay, viewing him as a ‘stop-gap’ manager.
Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel is now in charge, leading Chelsea to a 0-0 draw against Wolves in his first game before masterminding a 2-0 win over Burnley on Sunday.