Frank Lampard has explained how he, his coaching staff and the players are managing their schedules at this unusual time, and the boss has also added his name to the list of Chelsea greats paying tribute to Peter Bonetti.
Lampard was speaking on the first episode of The Football Show on Sky Sports, and fielded questions from presenter David Jones as well as pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Redknapp.
Much of the discussion centred on the work Lampard and his players are able to do during this lockdown, regarding both fitness schedules as well as an opportunity for the manager to reflect on the bigger picture. First, though, Lampard was asked for his reaction to Bonetti’s death yesterday…
‘Very, very sad news for Chelsea, because he was a Chelsea legend, and for football in general,’ said the boss.
‘My memories are of watching him as player, but also meeting him and what a gentleman he was. He was in working in hospitality at Chelsea when I first arrived, working upstairs, so friendly, had time for everybody, absolute gentleman, and a huge loss to Chelsea and to football.’
Lampard was then asked what the last few weeks have been like for him personally
‘It’s been challenging, although not as challenging as it has been for some people because we know what tough times these are.
‘It’s challenging in the fact it’s so new, so unprecedented, you don’t know how long this is going to last for. You try to stay in contact with the players, try to do the right thing, but when you don’t have an alarm, you’re so used to schedules and routines in football and knowing how our work is, and this is completely different.
‘The staff I have got with me at Chelsea are brilliant, and they do so much, strength and conditioning, fitness coaches, and then of course you try and stay in touch with the players. There are a lot of them, some have families, some don’t, so there are all these different situations and we have done our best to try and get through it. Football is put in its perspective at these times and we are all trying to get through it.’
Lampard noted he has had some chance to pause and reflect
‘One bonus has been a bit of time out of the routine, the almost madness of a game every three days. I suppose it has given me a bit of time to reflect on the season. At the same time, you do miss that day to day feeling, being with the players, being with the staff, trying to improve daily. It’s very hard to do that from the comforts of your own home.
‘I have tried to use the time to reflect on the season and start planning and looking forward. It might have been harder as a player. As a manager we have a lot of preparation time; it’s key to what we do. As a player I am sure they are chomping at the bit, wanting to get playing and wanting to get training.’
Lampard revealed where his reflections have taken him
‘Mixed places! I am always the first to criticise myself and look at what we could have done better. You can lean on certain games and results but you have to get beyond that. I am pretty happy with where we are in fourth position. It was always going to be a competitive year. We are there at the moment.
‘Now it’s about how we can progress from here. We know we have some youth. We have been searching for consistency. I am pretty happy with where we’re at but I want a lot more. A bit of reflection time has been good for me and my staff, how we want to work going forward and can we get a bit more out of us. You’re never ready to settle.’
The boss explained how he and his staff are managing the players’ fitness
‘We’re always in touch, that’s important. It’s not just me, it’s the fitness coaches, strength and conditioning, all the staff are in touch.
‘We have little groups of players and certain coaches are in contact with them regularly. They get plans every week. Last week we came off it a little bit because they’ve had quite a lot, whether it was in that hour a day they can leave the house, on their bikes, or if it’s strength and conditioning. ‘Mentally we decided it was time to come off a little bit. Then they get their plan for this week, they always have that coaching contact, and they are doing some video group calls for sessions on the bikes or strength and conditioning work.’
Neville asked Lampard if he will know what physical state his players will be in when they are able to return to action
‘It’s very hard to absolutely manage that. When you’re asking them to run in that hour a day, one player can travel to somewhere where they can do some open running, some football-based running, and others can’t.
‘You have to have a big element of trust in the players. It’s not the idea they’re not on their feet at all. That might be fine for me but it certainly isn’t for them to keep them in condition!
‘If there’s a chance we have a shorter pre-season coming up we need to have the players as ready as they can be. The players are good professionals and you have to trust them. The one benefit of it has been the injured players. We went into this period with four or five pretty major injuries. It’s given them time to have a bit of rehab and specific work at home. Hopefully that gets us a bit fresher when they come back.’
Check back later for more words from Lampard on football's response to the coronavirus pandemic...