Ahead of his first competitive match as Chelsea head coach, Frank Lampard discusses being motivated by the doubters and the chance to get some early momentum from a tough start.
There has been no shortage of debate around Lampard’s return to Stamford Bridge, taking a managerial role with the same club he achieved so much with as a player.
Some have questioned whether he has the experience to take on the task of leading one of the Premier League’s top clubs, along with the Blues’ chances of success this season given the strong competition around, but Lampard has never lacked for self confidence and is eager to prove those pundits wrong just as he did so many times during his playing career, even if he understands their concerns.
‘I use it as motivation, all that stuff. I’m not stupid, I understand why people might say that. We have a transfer ban, there were two teams that were very far out in front last year, the Premier League is more competitive at the top end than it’s ever been. So it won’t and it shouldn’t be that Chelsea are clear favourites to win the league this year. I don’t think anybody is clear favourites, even Manchester City who have a fantastic team, as Liverpool pushed them all the way to the wire last season.
‘I don’t think you can walk around with your eyes closed, I think you should be aware of these things. They don’t affect my thinking day to day, but they make you determined to do your job as well as you can and I don’t mind it. I quite like to be considered not quite a favourite. During your career there will be many moments like that and they are the sweet ones, when you can believe in what you can do and then go and achieve it, and I do believe in us.’
‘Everyone can analyse a job like this, after a year in management, and say there’s a ban, it’s going to be difficult. Anyone can throw those sides of the argument and I respect that. The other side is that I’m confident in myself, confident to do the job. I see opportunities in this job.
‘The ban is what it is, we have some really good young players and already a really good squad of a mixed bag of experienced players and players in the prime of their career. So I want to prove that I can do this job as well as possible, simple as that.
‘I think if you try and find things with the job I’ve been given and different angles you can do, I accept that. Some of those are facts, some are people’s opinions and of course I respect them, but it’s up to me to put them to one side. I have to just focus on the job and try to do it as well as I can.’
Lampard was also looking at the difficult start to the season we have been handed, with plenty of travel thrown in too, as we take on Manchester United away before flying to Turkey for the UEFA Super Cup against Liverpool.
Those back-to-back games against other teams targeting the upper reaches of the Premier League this season will certainly prove a test, but also provides a chance to build early momentum, even if Lampard insists we shouldn’t get too carried away by the first two matches, whatever happens.
‘You certainly would get momentum by beating Manchester United,’ he said. ‘So it would be great to have the momentum after our first game, but that certainly isn’t the end of the story. We’re going to a tough place in Old Trafford and the thing with football, and especially at the top of the Premier League, is that you can lose at those places, so we have to look at a bigger picture than that. But, of course, if we can get the early momentum by going there and getting a result then it would certainly help us.
‘We come back from Manchester and on Monday we fly to Istanbul to play Liverpool, so there’s not much time to over-consider these things. We want to hit the ground running, doesn’t everybody, but we’ve been given a tough start, especially when you consider the turnaround in Sunday to Wednesday with travel. They’ll be two hard games but we have to be up for that.’