Frank Lampard discussed his management style, his plans for the Chelsea team this season and his confidence to succeed at Stamford Bridge as he addressed the media at his official unveiling as head coach.
Lampard was understandably beaming throughout his official unveiling as Chelsea’s new head coach. After five years away from Stamford Bridge, during which time he hung up his boots and dived into the world of management with Championship side Derby County, our record goalscorer has returned home.
There was emotion, sentiment and goodwill all round as he was introduced to the world’s media, though Lampard was the first to acknowledge that the friendliness of reacquaintance will swiftly switch to the scrutiny of top-flight football once the curtain comes up on the new campaign. Work must begin quickly and our new boss will be grateful for the chance to begin pre-season with his players today when they fly out to Ireland for a training camp in Dublin.
Prior to their trip to the Emerald Isle, Lampard reflected on the job he has taken on, a significant step up from his role last season with the promotion-chasing Rams. However, with assistants Jody Morris and Chris Jones joining him in the move from Pride Park, the 41-year-old admitted there will be plenty of similarities between his way of working in the Midlands and west London.
‘What I tried to do last year at Derby, and what we will try to do this season, is have an aggressive team with energy, bravery on the ball and an ability to move the ball quickly,’ Lampard explained.
‘I have huge respect for the teams at the top of the league at this moment in time. I look at Manchester City and Liverpool to see the speed of their game and that is the speed I want to see from my team.
‘Work-rate is really important for me and that starts on the training pitch. I realised that even more last season being on this side of the fence. I always focused on myself as a player but now I can watch players more closely and see the real correlation between how you push yourself in training and how you perform at the weekend. That’s a big thing for me.’
Lampard’s life as a manager has so far been brief but he outlined his approach to working from the dugout, insisting that he wants to be seen as a forward-thinking coach rather than an ex-player attempting to relive past glories.
‘I know people will ask me a lot about my era and whether I want to set the same standards but what you won’t hear me saying is ‘in my day this’ or ‘we used to do it like that’. We don’t want to be going back in time because the football world is moving on really quickly. I want to be open-minded and moving with it.
‘We had a basic standard as a squad in my time here as a player but I won’t be standing there after every game comparing the two teams because we need to be moving forward.’
The boss also explained the relationship he wishes to develop with his players, some of whom he played alongside as team-mates before his departure from SW6 in 2014.
‘Chelsea is a club that has huge standards and ethics which we’ll try to put into the players but they have to own that as well,’ he continued. ‘We can set the tone but they have to go out and compete against a lot of fantastic teams out there in the Premier League. I want to be close to the players. I want to drive them but I want them to feel like they can always talk to me.
‘We will respect the players but we also expect them to behave like professionals. We’ll give them everything from a sports science, nutrition and medical point of view because we need to get those extra percentages but to get a top performance the players need to live right, train as hard as they can and rest as well as they can.’
Lampard was asked throughout his media duties yesterday whether he felt it was a gamble to return to the club at which he is so revered, particularly at such an early stage of his managerial career. He accepts that some may see it as risking his reputation but his focus is to make new memories and achieve more success, this time as manager rather than midfielder.
‘Maybe I am quite bold but I think you have to be in football,’ he added. ‘Derby was a fantastic club for me but I want to manage at the very top so the opportunity to come here was too good to turn down. I’m willing to risk it because I have belief in myself.
‘I’d like to think my playing career is done, it’s what it was, and now I’m going to try to be the best manager I can be. I understand people think it’s a risk but I’d rather look at the upside and see if I can achieve something similar to my playing career, and come away feeling like I’ve had success like I did as a player
‘I don’t think the Chelsea job is ever a home run because this is a club where people of great managerial stature would be lining up down the King’s Road to take charge. I don’t know if things have aligned to make it possible for me – maybe it’s not seen as normal that I’m here after one year in management but I’m proud to be here and I will be judged on what I do.’