Having seen his team suffer a harsh defeat the last time we met Manchester United in the league, Frank Lampard wants to set the record straight at Stamford Bridge tonight.
When we visited Old Trafford back on the Premier League’s opening weekend we found ourselves on the receiving end of a 4-0 scoreline, despite having more possession and shots than our opponents, and hitting the woodwork twice in the first half.
While Lampard insists that his players’ performance meant it wasn’t as painful a loss as it could have been, he is still relishing the chance to turn the tables on United on home soil.
‘It was only a surprise probably having watched the performance, it wasn’t a 4-0 game,’ he said. ‘I would be the first to criticise ourselves and I was honest with the players afterwards. I said “look, that’s not a 4-0, let’s not walk away from the small details that made it 4-0, but don’t take this as a big kick in the teeth, because it shouldn’t be on performance.”
‘Then a few days later they went toe-to-toe with the best team in the country this season by a mile, Liverpool, and possibly should have won the Super Cup.
‘I didn’t find the defeat to Manchester United was a real seminal moment. It didn’t feel nice on the day, it would be great to correct it tonight, but at the same time I didn’t take it as a huge hurtful thing. I could see in those two performances against Manchester United and Liverpool what the team could achieve this season.’
Lampard also discussed the importance of having a strong togetherness in the team over the course of the season, to support each other whether they are in the starting line-up or not and encourage healthy competition for places, as well as reacting to disappointment in the right manner.
‘With the competition in squads now I do think you have to always be aware that if your standards drop or if the manager chooses to leave you out for whatever reason, then that can happen and you have to handle it in the right way. It happens to most people during their career. I don’t expect smiling faces when people get dropped, I just expect reactions, I expect support for their team-mates.
‘It’s not easy. I’m saying this as a manager, but I know as a player I wasn’t brilliant at that myself, but from where I’m sitting now I try to push that and I think that sometimes it can be something that just makes you stronger.’
‘The group should always support their team-mates anyway. We’re playing at a high level and there’s competition in the squad, you have to respect the player that might be coming into the team at all times.
‘I’m there to support the players, they know that I’m on their side, even though I can sometimes make decisions that they don’t like. You need a strong supportive group that stays together no matter what, throughout the season, through the 50 or 60 games we play when lots of things are going to happen.
‘It is the brutal reality of life, of football, of our careers, that everyone has these things. You can’t pull the wool over their eyes and be too sweet about it, because the only thing I ever found that got me back in the team or through a difficult moment was hard work on the training ground.’