Interview

Mendy on settling in, adapting to Lampard’s demands and pushing on against United

Our new goalkeeper discusses his start to life at Stamford Bridge, what Frank Lampard expects from him and the challenge of heading to Old Trafford this weekend...

Football is often described as being a universal language but being able to communicate in the same tongue is also critical for developing relationships and understanding.

Following our Premier League victory against Crystal Palace earlier this month, it was noted by Lampard that four of the back five had spent the game talking in French and our clean sheet was perhaps a consequence of that linguistic compatibility.

Edouard Mendy has certainly benefited from the strong Anglo-French relations in the Chelsea dressing room in his first few weeks at the club, citing the influence of his compatriots as proving particularly useful in aiding his move to the Blues.

‘There are a lot of French players here that have helped me settle in such as Kurt Zouma, Olivier Giroud and N’Golo Kante, and then there is Cesar Azpilicueta, who spent time at Marseille and can also speak French,’ explained our new goalkeeper.

‘As soon as I arrived, he asked if there was anything he could do for me, which was really nice. Plus there is my sister, who has lived in England for the past seven years, so I know if I need anything then I can just speak to her.’

Mendy has been talking with Lampard too, trying to understand fully how his new coach wants him to fit into the team's identity. Of course, the first job of the man with the gloves is always to keep the ball out of the net and the Senegalese international’s record of one goal conceded in three games has been a positive start on that front, though a modern-day keeper has much more responsibility than just saving shots.

As the initiator of so many restarts at goal-kicks, Mendy is tasked with playing out from the back, often in the face of high-pressing Premier League opponents. He knows what Lampard wants from him in that respect but also emphasises that decision-making must be fluid.

‘I’ve spoken with the coach about his particular demands with regards to how I play in terms of my distribution,’ the 28-year-old continued. ‘The game here in England is not the same as in France so this will give me the opportunity to develop my game as well.

‘The coach is very clear in terms of what he demands from us with distribution but it’s also up to me to take each moment in the game as it comes. Whether I play short or long is up to me to see where the opportunity lies. I have very clear instructions in both training and match situations but ultimately the ball is at my feet and it’s up to me to make those calls.’

Mendy’s next opportunity to put all this to the test comes this evening in Manchester as we take on United in a hotly-anticipated league encounter. The margin for error on these big stages is small but the 6ft 6in man is hopeful we can continue some positive recent form with a good result against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils.

‘We are all expecting a really difficult match,’ he admitted. ‘There is a great historic rivalry between the two clubs and I’m sure these are matches played in the highest of intensities.

‘Right now, it’s important for us to use the progress against Sevilla and really push on from here.’

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