Frank Lampard believes football’s authorities must work more closely with clubs to manage the difficult fixture schedule amid increasing last-minute postponements in the Premier League due to the prevalence of Covid-19 cases.
A number of top-flight matches have been affected in recent weeks and Fulham, this evening’s opponents for Lampard’s Chelsea, were informed at short notice earlier in the week that they would be facing Tottenham on Wednesday.
That meant our west London derby with the Cottagers was pushed back from Friday to Saturday, a move Lampard believes will hinder his side as it reduces recovery and preparation time ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Leicester City.
Furthermore, the Blues boss feels the Premier League have shown far more flexibility over recent rescheduling compared to the Christmas period, when his side were forced to play two matches in three days, and that inconsistency in approach is difficult to take.
‘Changing the game from Friday to Saturday didn’t make a difference too much for me at the front end because we have a week to prepare but obviously it means the gap between Fulham and Leicester is now even tighter for us,’ said Lampard.
‘My biggest gripe as manager of Chelsea Football Club is that nobody came to help us when we played two games on the 26th and the 28th December over Christmas, when it clearly could have been moved. This is not a normal season and we’re all here to find the best way through it but all of a sudden these rules have come in, even though at Christmas it was fine for us to play within two days.
‘The Premier League could have done better to look after us, and Aston Villa, by moving that game but they didn’t. Now it seems that consistency is going to be difficult and it’s definitely going to put a mark on this season whatever happens. My preference would have been to keep the game as a Friday. That was overruled but I’m very happy to play fair with that.’
Lampard has called for the authorities to be more open and transparent with clubs moving forward.
‘The Premier League have to open up the conversation and dialogue much more,’ he continued. ‘It can’t be right that you’re just told. It must be an open conversation. If Scott [Parker, Fulham's manager] has been told two days before they’re about to play in the Premier League then that for me really isn’t good enough.’
On the subject of Parker, a club and international team-mate during their playing days, Lampard noted how the former midfielder’s attributes were always well-suited to a move into management. The two were Chelsea colleagues for 18 months and Lampard is not surprised his friend is doing so well following promotion from the Championship last summer.
‘He was diligent, very determined, had a good football brain and prepared right so everything about Scott as a player made me think he could go on to coaching and management,’ he added.
‘The only doubt is do they want to but he showed his ideas very quickly when he got into his coaching badges and started his pathway with the youth team at Tottenham. He has done fantastically well and will continue to do so.’
Lampard revealed the pair had stayed close following Parker’s departure from Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2005 and he is excited to pit his wits against the 40-year-old this evening.
‘We spent time together on holiday a couple of summers ago and talked about our passion for the job, the work and what we wanted to do,’ said Lampard. ‘We were work friends for a while and kept in touch with a message now and again.
‘I was delighted for him when they got promoted last year and with the passion he showed at Wembley when they did so. The way he worked through what was a tough time with a team in some form of transition that had been relegated was a measure of him and he’s doing great at the moment. I’m looking forward to the challenge of going up against him.’