In modern football, perhaps the most challenging aspect of a head coach’s job is managing a group of highly-motivated and ambitious professionals when you can only pick 11 of them to start each game, and Frank Lampard has been explaining how he approaches that particular aspect of his role as Chelsea boss.
With six high-profile additions to the squad over the summer, competition for places is fiercer than ever and every time a team is named there will be some players left disappointed at not starting or missing out on the squad altogether.
Lampard believes the best way to address these tough decisions is with openness and honesty, traits he respected as a player and so is looking to implement in his man-management as a coach.
‘When you have a squad of 20-plus players, which is what you have to have, you have to fight as much as you can to do the job right,’ he begins. ‘When you are trying to select squads and teams as you go through the season, you are trying to do it honestly and you front it up with the players.
‘Even though they can be some difficult conversations, I think they respect that, particularly modern players. In years gone by, managers may have dropped players out and told them to get on with it in that old-school kind of way but I try to be as open and as honest with as many players as I can be.
‘It’s not always easy. I can’t speak to everybody every week but I don’t mind it and actually, when you have those conversations, it helps you build the relationship for good or for bad.
‘If you are being honest and players don’t like it, I have to accept that to a point but next time you speak to them or they do come back in, then you have a little extra dimension to how you have spoken to them or they have fed back to you.
'I think it’s important you have that open dialogue. I try to have it as much as I can and that is part of the job.’
While all managers face difficult choices every single day, the spotlight at a club like Chelsea is brighter than most and Lampard’s regular briefings with the media provide frequent opportunities for his decisions to be highlighted and scrutinised.
The 42-year-old acknowledges the change between his position now and his previous role at Derby County, though insists there are more similarities than differences.
‘I definitely did have to deal with it at Derby,’ he says. ‘I understand it when people say it can look and feel slightly different with the type of player and expectations around it, media hype, the questions you get asked.
‘At Derby press conferences, I could easily dodge questions about the players who were not happy but now I am not allowed to dodge them every two or three days. It is part of my job. It is one of the most interesting parts but it can be one of the most difficult parts if you are dropping people who really want to play.’