LAMPARD HUNGRY FOR NEW CAMPAIGN
At the launch of his autobiography Totally Frank yesterday, Thursday, Frank Lampard declared his hunger for the new season was as strong as ever, particularly after the criticism he has received for his World Cup performances.
"I do feel determined and really hungry for the season, I feel determined to be personally as good as I know I can be, and to be part of a team that's successful, and for my England career to be successful.
"I've been fortunate for the last two or three years, a lot of things have gone right for me at club and England level, and I understand there's been bits of fortune here and there, but I've been working hard for it. But you'd be a fool to think you'll go through your career without any little blips, things going against you. You have to come through stronger."
The criticism is something he's taken on the chin.
"You don't walk round with your eyes shut. There are days you think negatively about it. It's part of being a footballer. I could be something else and hide away, I could have hidden away in the World Cup and not try and get forward and score goals, but I didn't. And that's the attitude I'll take now and try and continue where I left off in the last few seasons."
Jose Mourinho, he revealed, has not spoken to him personally about his World Cup form despite declaring his belief in him publicly.
"He didn't and I don't think he had to. I think if he felt he had to say it publicly 'cos things were said or that was the way he felt then fair enough, but I don't need Jose to tell me the support he has for me, as with the respect I have for him, it goes without saying."
Nor did he feel that the game or his goal in England's 4-0 demolition of Greece on Wednesday put everything behind him.
"One game doesn't make or break you. But it was nice, you could see I was happy with it (the goal), particularly because it was a deflection and that was the sort of goal I would have died for at the World Cup. And it comes in a friendly just after! But I was happy with it. Six games for England without scoring! The longer it would have gone on the worse I would have felt about it."
So it's back to the League, and Chelsea are trying to become only the fifth team in history to win it three years in a row. He says that hasn't been discussed.
"We haven't spoken about it in that manner, but we've spoken about the desire to win it again, we've spoken about that pre-season as we have in all our pre-seasons since Mourinho's been at the club. But we also understand how tough it is, and at the moment we're not looking far ahead, we're looking at the start of the season we've got, which is a tough first week considering we've had two-and-a-half weeks of pre-season so far. So we're kind of looking in stages rather than looking at the bigger picture at the moment.
"We have to look to start the season well, and when the Champions League starts we have to look to qualify for the next stage, and we have to break it down like that and try and go as far as we can in everything."
He admitted that there could come a time when he is not automatically selected for the starting line-up, but he doesn't intend to let that happen often, if at all.
"I think at Chelsea you always understand that can happen. It hasn't particularly happened to me, and everybody knows I want to play week in and week out, but I'm not silly enough to think that it won't happen. I wouldn't want to be on the bench for a few weeks but you understand that if your levels drop that could be the way it is.
"We have signed Ballack and Obi Mikel and I think there is competition, but not more than we've had before. We've lost Eidur Gudjohnsen who played midfield a lot last year, the year before we had players like Veron. Essien's still there. It's always the case at Chelsea that your place will never be set in stone."
And he declared that the William Gallas situation has not affected team spirit.
"It hasn't affected us at all. We all respect Willie as a player, he's been a fantastic player for us. And I spoke to Willie and he was fine, he was in really good spirits ? and Willie's not always in good spirits anyway. That's the way he is. In training he's been fine, he's been working hard. I've got respect for Willie and respect for the club, and I'll wait and see how it develops, but it's creating no bad feeling around the place."
He also dismissed the idea that last week's Community Shield defeat to Liverpool proved that this season will be tougher than the last two.
"There's always been that chance, we're not invincible, that's something that's been created from the outside. We've lost games before. The important thing is to start the season well. We did only have two weeks pre-season and we'll be better than we were on Sunday, that's for sure.
"On paper the squad is as strong and maybe stronger than it's been, but the only way that you can be better than last year is by going out and doing it."
by Neil Barnett