In his first two transfer windows in charge of Chelsea, Frank Lampard did not bring anyone in. That has all changed this summer, and the boss has assessed how our new signings will impact expectations at the Bridge, with some pundits stating we should now be title challengers.
Lampard is content to leave it to outsiders to cast their judgement on what the Blues should be aspiring to achieve this season. He is concentrating his focus on improving the individual and the collective, with the main target gelling his freshened-up squad as quickly as possible.
‘The pressure on me to do better than last season should be standard, regardless of anything,’ noted Lampard today at his first pre-match press conference of the season. ‘That comes with the territory of this job.
‘I understand there will be a lot of talk about the players we’ve brought in, and we were very joined up on the business we wanted to do to improve the team. We’ve done it hopefully in a good way. We should be excited, but we should also have a slight word of caution that we need to work with the new players to get them settled into the team and get the team working as well as possible.
‘Other people can talk about us challenging or not. In the last two seasons we have a finished a lot of points behind Liverpool and Manchester City, so we have to first look at closing the gap and build confidence by getting the team working well together. I’m not jumping ahead and making any predictions on us.
‘I know what it takes to win Premier Leagues,’ added Lampard. ‘When you look at the teams who have dominated in recent years, they are a story that has run over a few years in terms of recruitment, coaching and improvement on the training pitch that translates to the pitch. It’s not a simple story that bringing in players must win the league, it doesn’t work that way.
‘I hope we will improve, I know expectations will be there and I won’t hide away from those, but we won’t jump ahead of ourselves.’
Lampard went on to explain why he is ready to raise the levels at Chelsea, just as he did in his playing career as big names were brought in.
‘Expectations to deliver are always there at a size of this club, and I thrive off that pressure. I didn’t come in to this job to fight for fourth place, although that was an achievement last season. I didn’t come here to bring Academy players into the team and say I made this many debuts. No, I came here to try and win.
‘Any club at our level has to tick the major boxes, and recruitment is a huge part of that. We have been able to bring in players, that changes the landscape, and we are ready to go. We want to move in an upwards direction, and the work starts now. It’s been a broken pre-season for everyone, and with new players you have to work very hard, very quickly, and we will do that.’
When it comes to the make-up of his squad for the 2020/21 campaign, there remains a chance of further changes. Lampard confirmed Michy Batshuayi is in talks with Crystal Palace but it remains ‘an ongoing situation’. However, he said there have been no discussions about Fikayo Tomori leaving on loan.
‘Fikayo trained with us today and is in contention for the Brighton game,’ said Lampard.
‘There is nothing specific I want him to improve on. All I want him to do is work hard, show me the work ethic he showed me at Derby and for major parts of last season, and he knows I’m fair in how I try to pick the team.
‘With four centre-backs last year, two will be unhappy pretty much every week. It’s up to them to try and make that starting place their own, those are the rules at a club like Chelsea.
‘Everybody should be positive going into the season, training and playing as well as they can, and worry about the unity of the squad and the results we get as a team.’