Frank Lampard says he won’t be letting his history with West Ham United influence his decisions ahead of our meeting on Monday and has backed Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to return to top form.
As a player, our head coach had a complicated relationship with West Ham, having started his career with the east London club where his father also played. However, after leaving the Hammers for Chelsea, he often found himself the subject of the West Ham fans’ anger when facing his former club.
While he admits that gave him huge motivation for games against West Ham as a player, now he is our head coach the personal feelings are put to one side as he shoulders the responsibility for the whole team.
‘If I’m honest it did have extra meaning when I played. As a manager, in my role now, it doesn’t,’ explained Lampard. ‘Maybe I’ve mellowed or something’s changed, but also I focus on what’s necessary for the club.
‘I took it on me personally to really get up for a game against West Ham because I played for them before, but now I don’t. I just see it as another game, particularly off the back of two defeats for us. It’s an important game just for us to approach in a way of we want to get back on track where we were before these two games.’
That task of getting back to winning ways after our long unbeaten run came to an end with consecutive Premier League losses to Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers will be made more difficult by our opponents’ own form, with David Moyes’s side now just one point behind us in the table.
‘I think he’s doing a great job,’ said Lampard. ‘They have good players, but the way they’re playing and the consistency they’ve got, the levels they’ve got to this season, have been really impressive.
‘They’ve got an experienced, very good manager, who’s obviously got his message across to them and they’re playing really well. The organisation of their team, the style they play, is difficult to play against. They have threats on the counter-attack, they’re very good at set-pieces. So they’re just playing very well.’
Our head coach also discussed the form of two of our German internationals, as well as the versatility they help bring to the team, starting with Kai Havertz as he continues his return to full fitness after a spell out following a positive Covid-19 test.
‘I think 4-3-3 suits him. Before his Covid period he was playing very well on the right side in the number eight position for us and I think he can play various positions for us, but of course consistency in a position is sometimes a good thing and that’s what I want to get for him.
‘When you look and you really analyse what’s happened here, Kai came in without any form of pre-season, just started to play really well early in the season and gets Covid, and now comes back and all eyes are on him because of the price tag. But I think we must have huge perspective here.
‘Some of the greatest players the Premier League has seen have taken time to succeed in the Premier League. I’m not saying it will take a long time for Kai, but I think we have to give him a bit of time to settle in on and off the pitch, and that’s what’s happening. I’m very happy with him, I’ve got no problem with him, but for Chelsea fans and for us we must give him time.’
Lampard also discussed his faith in Timo Werner to become a regular goal threat for the Blues from a several different positions, as he approaches a month without finding the net, having scored eight times in his first 12 appearances for the club.
‘When we had a big reference of a target man I got asked a lot why I’m playing Oli or Tammy, whatever way round it is, all the time. Timo, for Leipzig and Germany, has played as a number nine, on the side, slightly behind sometimes, so I don’t think it’s a problem for him to play there for us, and because we use him in various roles across that front three.
‘Any goalscorer will want to score regularly, but must have the mental toughness and confidence to go through tough periods because everyone will go through them, absolutely every striker. There’s not been a striker in the history of the world who’s managed to score game in, game out through a long career. So there’s no problem on that front. He needs to remain confident, he needs to keep getting in the areas and those goals will come without a doubt.’