Frank Lampard has been speaking about the perception of English managers and how, a year into his role as Blues boss, he is still beaming with pride at managing the club he loves as he prepares for a Champions League night in Russia...
Chelsea take on Champions League debutants Krasnodar in our second group fixture tonight and, in his second campaign in charge, the head coach has reached yet another impressive milestone by becoming just the second English manager to take charge of a side in two different Champions League campaigns, following in the footsteps of the great Sir Bobby Robson.
Lampard acknowledges he is flying the flag for English coaches in European competition right now but believes there is plenty of talent waiting for similar opportunities to prove themselves at the highest level.
‘It was for quite a long time that I used to hear towards the end of my career how English managers get the jobs in the Premier League and it’s a merry-go-round,’ he said.
'Now we’ve seen English managers showing their qualities in the game - throughout the Premier League, throughout the Championship, throughout the leagues and hopefully there are more opportunities for them.
‘With the brilliant invasion of great quality coaches and players into the Premier League, sometimes our eyes go to that and it becomes new and trendy and rightly so with managers that have achieved so much but I think sometimes we have managers at home who can do those jobs as well.’
Lampard has only recently turned 42 and acknowledges that when he took the Chelsea job last summer, after just one season with Derby County in the Championship, there were plenty of outsiders who had their say on whether he was ready.
As a young English manager, he understands and accepts that the Chelsea job is one that comes with plenty of criticism, though he hopes to be judged fairly on performances and results.
‘When I got this job, a lot of people were questioning me getting it and a lot of people also asked me, "are you sure you want to take it?" because of opinions,' Lampard explained.
'Sometimes people can be very quick to form opinions straight away for whatever reason and being a young English manager with only one year at Derby, some of that I understood. We just need to judge people on face value. It doesn’t matter where you're from, I think all managers should be judged the same.’
Judging by his debut season in the dugout at Stamford Bridge, he has earned the praise that came his way after reaching the FA Cup final and finishing fourth in the league, an achievement that earned our place back in this season's Champions League.
‘I’m certainly very pleased that I took it,' he says about becoming Chelsea boss last summer. ‘I just saw a football club that I love and I’m very proud to manage this club every day.'
Lampard is looking to build on what the club achieved last season and the hard work is starting to show, especially after a tough week against Sevilla and Manchester United in which his team managed to get two clean sheets.
As during his playing days, challenges motivate him and there was no bigger challenge than last season with an inability to sign players before the season began and the terrible pandemic that has affected so many lives on so many levels.
‘The work of the whole group was something I was very proud of, not just from myself but all my staff and the players,' he added
'Now we want to move on to further levels. We know there are different challenges and we are very aware of those challenges, that will come earlier in the season without a pre-season and new players. I love that challenge every day.'