“If you don’t have a top goalkeeper, you won’t win that league.”
Despite a 3-1 win against Brighton in their season opener, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is facing increased pressure to drop his ‘keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga after the Spaniard made another mistake.
After Leandro Trossard’s shot wriggled under the arms of Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa in the 54th-minute, the pressure grew on Frank Lampard to drop the £71.6m ‘keeper.
Granted, Chelsea went on to win the game, but the mistake was just the latest in a long list of blunders from the Chelsea ‘keeper.
In fact, Kepa has conceded 19 goals from outside the box since making his debut for Chelsea, that’s the most of any goalkeeper in the Premier League.
Speaking on Monday Night Football, Neville said he has sympathy for Lampard because the Chelsea coach is highly unlikely to publicly slate his ‘keeper, but he also warned Lampard that if he doesn’t act quickly, Kepa could cost him his job.
“I don’t think he is [happy with Kepa]. I wouldn’t be, but, yet I know full well, having been in a coaching position, been in a changing room, you have to back your goalkeeper. You must back your players, you have to support them publicly but privately that goal, it’s a really poor goal to give away.
“He conceded so many goals from outside the box last season, he’s conceded another one tonight and it will cost you. If you don’t have a top goalkeeper, you won’t win that league. If you don’t have your goalkeeper right you are going to massively struggle to get where you need to get to. You certainly will never win a league.
“You will not win a league with a goalkeeper who is letting goals in from outside his box, doesn’t dominate his area and concedes goals from set-pieces. It isn’t going to happen.
Chelsea are reportedly close to agreeing a deal to sign goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Rennes, and Neville thinks Lampard needs to be ruthless with Kepa because it might just save his job.
“It’s a stark warning. Frank Lampard knows this. He’s played in championship-winning teams, he knows what he needs to do, he doesn’t like the goalkeeper, he wants him out and he’s going to bring a new one in because he knows Frank Lampard will be sacked as a manager if he doesn’t win the league in the next two or three years.”
In terms of reference, the Sky Sports pundit made a valid point when he compared Chelsea’s current situation with the recent histories of Manchester United, City, and Liverpool.
“A few years ago, I used to be quite critical of Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet. 50 goals a season, but as soon as Alisson came everything became normal. It was the same at Manchester United in my time when we had that period between Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar. As soon as Van der Sar came, it became normal,” said Neville.
He added: “Same with Manchester City in Pep Guardiola’s first season. Claudio Bravo kept letting goals in from everywhere and the save-to-shots ratio was poor. As soon as Ederson comes in, everything becomes really normal. He’s spent £200m so he’s got to do it. Pep did it, Jurgen Klopp did it and Sir Alex Ferguson did it.
“Every manager of any salt will be harsh. He’s got to be ruthless and do it for himself because that £70m, he wants to look after the club’s money, he wants to try and get it back, but unfortunately, it’s gone.”
As for Chelsea’s next match, they’ve got a mouthwatering clash against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
You can view Neville’s comments in full below.
Clip via Sky Sports Football