From the Bosphorus to the Thames, Frank Lampard has been keeping a keen eye on his Chelsea squad over this most demanding of opening weeks.
Our new head coach is now preparing for his Stamford Bridge homecoming, a return that will be cheered to the rafters and greeted with an undeniable sense of optimism from the stands.
‘I’m trying not to get caught up in the emotion of it all,’ said Lampard in his pre-match press conference at Cobham, having been asked about his SW6 return.
‘I’ll be proud and it will be a little bit surreal but I want the atmosphere to be pumped for the players, not for me. The fans gave me a fantastic reception when I was at City, then at the Bridge and when I came back with Derby. I am excited but I don’t want that to be the overriding thing in terms of preparing for the game.’
There is plenty at stake but Lampard could not help but be drawn on his own early experiences as a Chelsea player, explaining the nuances behind his quick and close relationship with the Blues fans.
‘I came from West Ham, which is not an easy move, and I wouldn’t say the Chelsea fans were necessarily rubbing their hands like they had the next big thing,’ he said of his 2001 transfer across the capital. ‘
‘I felt £11m was a lot of money at the time but the fans took to me very quickly, even though my first season was just okay. They made me very comfortable and, after 13 years at a club, you feel the bond.
‘We had a group of players that really felt the club and I think the fans appreciated that. It’s where I want us to get back to as a club. I want the players and fans to have that two-way relationship because I really felt the club and the Chelsea fans are special to me.’
Lampard knows that positive performances will only account for so much as Chelsea boss and he is desperate to kick off our home campaign with a precious three points at the Bridge on Sunday afternoon.
‘Winning is the most important thing and we’re going towards where I want to go,’ he continued. ‘We know we’re Chelsea and we have to win every game but the good signs from Sunday and Wednesday are overpowering - now we have to win.
‘All we can do is work towards where I want to get to. There’s been a lot of work in pre-season and now we have to give every minute of the day to try and keep improving. People saw on Wednesday a team giving everything, playing good football and with a real energy in the team.’