Posted on: Tue 03 Oct 2006

On Saturday, Jose Mourinho gave licence to his players to decide penalty-takers amongst themselves. Three days later, they exercised that right against Werder Bremen. The decision was made before kick-off explains Frank Lampard.


It was the vice-captain who handed over the spot-kick duties to Michael Ballack. The penalty was duly converted and Chelsea were on our way to an important 2-0 victory.


Lampard's weekend miss against Charlton was only his second fluffed penalty in five-and-a-bit seasons at Chelsea and his first for two years, but in the context of two misses for England this year and recognised penalty-takers in Ballack and Shevchenko joining the club, a debate had begun.


Lampard and Ballack had the most important conversation of all.


"I spoke to Michael before the game and we decided he would take one if we got one on the night," Lampard told Smooth FM 102.2, Chelsea's official radio partner, following the game.


"I knew I would be asked questions after the game but the most important things is the team scores the penalty for the benefit of the team rather than who takes it. In future who knows who will take them but it is just important to score.


"I wouldn't have minded to take it at all," he insisted. "It is not a problem for me to take them but I think it was an ideal time in that Michael hasn't scored for the club, I had missed one a few days ago and it was an important time to score at 1-0 to kill the game off.


"Michael did just that but in future I will take penalties for Chelsea and we will mix it up."


The change in taker was news to captain John Terry.


"I wasn't aware of the change," he admitted. "Obviously Michael and Lamps must have spoken before the game or during it but I am sure Lamps will be taking penalties again.


"It was a great strike. As he was stepping up, I was thinking Werder Bremen know Michael quite well and that could work to his disadvantage but striking them like that, obviously not!"


Lampard too was an admirer of the execution.


"There is no better way of talking penalties than smashing them towards the top corner. There was always a chance they could get back into the game at 1-0 but I always felt we were the better team.


"It was our first game in a very tough group and everybody knows they are a very good team, so to win by two goals with a clean sheet, it is a perfect start.


"It would have made it tough in the future if we hadn't won. It still will be tough but we have given ourselves a better chance by winning the first game."


On a more personal note, Lampard commented on the national debate about his form.


"I am very pleased with how I started the season. My Chelsea form has been good. It is not important that I please journalists and people outside the club, it is more important that I please my manager and if you ask him how I am playing, I am sure he will give you an answer."


Unbeknown to the player, at the very moment he was talking, his manager was doing just that!


Click here for Jose Mourinho's post-match reaction.


by Paul Mason