It was an understandably delighted and proud Frank Lampard who reflected on his young team’s achievement of reaching the FA Cup final after defeating Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley.
The Blues banished the memories of three previous defeats to the Red Devils this season with a comprehensive performance capped by goals from Olivier Giroud and Mason Mount, along with a Harry Maguire own goal.
United pulled one back late on but it was never enough to threaten a comeback and after the game Lampard emphasised how happy he was with a big performance from his players on the big stage.
‘I’m very proud of the team today,’ stated the boss. ‘I can’t ask for much more than what they gave me, apart from maybe a couple more goals! That’s maybe surprising to say when you play against a side with their quality but what impressed me most was the work ethic of the performance.
‘We played with a system that we haven’t used in a while and I was surprised to see them match us up. I thought we were on top at the start of the game and then when they changed their system up, I thought we were even better. We did everything that the staff and I asked of them.
‘I was delighted with our wing-backs getting up tight to stop them playing, the midfield were all excellent - Jorginho, Kovacic, Mount - then Giroud leading the line. I could go through the whole team.’
Lampard expanded on the characteristics of the performance that pleased him most.
‘I’m really proud of the lads. Today was a performance full of character, personality and we had leaders all over the pitch. The players should take confidence from that and continue being leaders for us as they come in all different forms.
‘We came into the game having lost at Sheffield United and having beaten Norwich, albeit with not a brilliant performance but having a little edge around the place is not the worst thing.
‘We changed the system and put a lot of thought and information into that but you’re only as good as your players in that sense and they deserve huge credit for that performance today. They kept going right to the end against a really top side, who came into the game in great form.’
Frank admitted a word with Mason Mount at half-time paid off for the midfielder’s goal, even if David de Gea was also at fault.
‘People will always hone in on keepers when they make errors. All I said to Mason at half-time was I wanted to see him strike through the ball more and fortunately three minutes after I said it, he did!
‘He had a shot in the first half where he tried to whip it or bend it but for me outside the box against top keepers you have to strike through the ball. He didn’t actually hit it brilliantly for the goal but it went in.’
There was praise for Olivier Giroud as well.
‘He sets an amazing example. He kept training well, had the most positive attitude possible and he just exudes professionalism.
‘I know what he can do, the presence and quality he has. We have to make sure we work off and around him but he’s been great and the young players should see in him everything it takes to be a professional.’
Lampard was happy with the personality and leadership shown by his team.
‘We worked a lot in recent days on United’s dangers - they run in behind, they have the speed of the front three and with Fernandes they can get into really good areas between the lines.
‘We went with a back three but I didn’t want it to be a back five. We had leadership and talking among the group, great work off the ball and physical intensity, which is what wins you games.’
Lampard finished by looking ahead to an FA Cup final to end his first season as Chelsea boss.
‘We have finals ahead now. Arsenal is one for us, we know that, but before that we have two finals in the league this week.
‘Recovery will be huge for us and we will refocus on the league now, but of course it will be a great occasion. It’s a London derby against a good side and a chance to win a trophy.’