Given the nature of the sport he works in, Frank Lampard is not surprised that suddenly his former Chelsea manager is now in charge at one of the Blues’ biggest rivals.
Naturally the subject of Jose Mourinho taking over from Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham was raised at Lampard’s pre-match media conference at Cobham on Friday afternoon, including a question about whether he could see himself one day following in Mourinho’s shoes.
Firstly however, the current Chelsea boss reported that he and the man who guided him to his first trophies as a player have exchanged texts this week, with Lampard wishing him well in his new role, as Mourinho always did for him.
Then the talk moved on to the Portuguese’s mighty record of winning trophies and whether 14th-placed Tottenham now are a genuine rival for a high league finish.
‘Well it keeps him [Mourinho] off Sky Sports for a while!’ he responded to a Sky Sports reporter who had posed the question.
‘He has a good team, and at the start of the season, when you looked at Spurs they were a lot of people’s favourites to be in the race to win the title. I know they had a difficult start but when you look at what Pochettino built over the last years, I have huge respect for what he has done at that football club.
What Mourinho takes on is a group of very good players, even though they are in a slightly false position at the moment for whatever reason.
‘It will be tough [for the other teams] because they have quality players and a quality manager and they have all the structure there, the training ground, the stadium, all those things, without a doubt they are in the top-four race.’
Lampard stated that as far as he is concerned, that was the story at the start of the season and it will be the story now.
‘The quality through their team is why they have been there in the last three or four years, it is why they reached the Champions League final,’ he quickly added. ‘You look at their players throughout the squad, the strength in depth. You look at the individuals they have, particularly in forward areas. Anyone with Harry Kane and players like that in their team are going to be a threat. I knew that before and I know that know.
‘History and results speak for themselves, the trophies and titles Mourinho has managed to win at the clubs he has been at. That is what we measure him and us as managers by. Wherever you go is a new beginning so you can’t rely on that [your past success] and I am sure he won’t be behind the scenes, but that is why people will hold up his record and expect big things from him.’
An old Mourinho quote was dug up this week, claiming he would not consider the Spurs job because of his love for Chelsea supporters. With that in mind, Lampard was asked if he is surprised about the change in tune.
‘Jose Mourinho has managed a lot of football clubs over the years and sometimes that is what happens. That is his decision and whether fans judge you or not for that, it is not something that is out of your hands but it is something where you take those decisions and you will see.
‘As a professional you have to understand the right to work but we do also have this tribal instinct in this country where players and fans react to that, but it remains to be seen.’
That led to the ‘could Lampard see himself at Spurs one day in the future’ question.
‘I can firmly say no, and you can replay that in 10 years or whenever!’ he responded with a smile.
‘But it wouldn’t happen. But things are different. Jose Mourinho works at a lot of football clubs and we have to respect his right to work, but on the other hand I was here 13 years as a player and have an absolutely deep feeling for the club.
‘Chelsea is certainly something very close to my heart, hence why I am so proud to manage this club and hence why I would not manage Tottenham. That is no disrespect for Tottenham, I have a lot of friends who are Tottenham fans and Arsenal fans etc., but sometimes there are feelings that there are some things you wouldn’t do, and that is not disrespectful to their club, just because of what Chelsea has given me during my time as a player and what it is giving me now. It is certainly not on my list.’
Not the case however for Mourinho, and his path will cross with Lampard again when we visit Tottenham’s new stadium for the first time in our last game before Christmas.
‘Having people of such quality and character as Jose Mourinho in the Premier League is a great thing,’ Lampard declared.
‘I think we all watched his press conference yesterday for the lines and for the personality and that is a good thing. Now the interesting thing to see will be how his team does. I have watched it this week with one eye, but I am much more focused on how we are going to go about the big game tomorrow.’