Two weeks into his new job, Frank Lampard has reflected on his appointment as Blues boss and also remembered how his feelings towards management changed during his playing days.
Lampard’s dedication, big-game mentality and tactical nous when he was running our midfield for so many years suggested a career on the sidelines awaited when he hung up his boots. However, he has revealed such a path was not always in his thinking, and now it is he is determined to stamp his own mark on the game rather than relying on his predecessors in the Chelsea hotseat.
‘In my twenties I didn’t want to be a manager,’ Lampard said.
‘When you’re an individual player you’re relatively selfish most of the time in terms of worrying about yourself day to day to be fit and be the best. Then when you get a bit older and realise you need to be much more selfless and take responsibility for everyone, those moments with managers come back to you.
‘When I turned 30 I started thinking about it, as you do when you think about the next steps. If I look back there was no ‘ding’ moment as such. I had lots of managers that influenced me in really good ways. I absolutely respected how they worked with me, and as a group.
‘Jose Mourinho I have spoken about a lot when he first came and what he did for me, more mentally rather than tactically or physically. There have been countless managers, without naming them all, who have given me moments on and off the pitch, who made me think I could be very interested in that.
‘I respect all the managers I had,’ Lampard continued, ‘even the ones I felt not such a close connection with. When you become a manager you realise it’s not that simple. It’s not about close connections with everyone - they can’t love every manager, you can’t love every player - but you have to work together.
‘I haven’t gone searching for too many words from managers. I try and learn via myself and by working with the players daily. I think we have to find our own way, that’s the way it is. If I rung up Carlo Ancelotti to ask about a situation it would be so different to a situation he dealt with, so I don’t go searching for that.’
Lampard says Mourinho and Ancelotti are among the former managers he remains in touch with, as well as Guus Hiddink who he received a ‘very nice message’ from this week.
But he insists his focus is on paving his own path, making his players feel comfortable around him, and getting the best of them to give his Blues side the greatest chance of success. He may have only been in charge for just over a fortnight, but Lampard has wasted little time in resettling in at the club with whom he won so much.
‘It felt good to be back. It was certainly a benefit to know the building so well and know so many faces in the building. That made it not so much a first day of school feeling.
‘That corridor towards the manager’s office is somewhere you didn’t venture much - as a player I tried to be low maintenance on those terms. I suppose now it’s where I will be!
‘It does feel different, but in the short period I have been in charge it changes very quickly. You become accustomed to it and that’s important for me to do that, and it’s important for the players to feel that is the case. I didn’t want too many grey areas. I know some of the players and the relationship with them is so good it’s been no issue. I’m talking about Azpi, David Luiz, Willian’s not here yet.
‘I already sensed the size of the club and differences off the pitch, dealing with players with 70 caps and so many titles. No player is the same, but the basics are the same. And I haven’t changed too much in my basic approach.
'On the pitch I will ask for one thing and that's absolutely buying into how I want to do it.’