Ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup third-round fixture, Frank Lampard has been discussing the importance of regaining confidence and thriving under pressure as we look to return to winning ways.
Our 2020/21 FA Cup campaign gets under way when we host League Two Morecambe at Stamford Bridge this weekend. In a competition with a long history of producing upsets, Lampard began by insisting his team need to respect our opponents to avoid being on the receiving end of the next underdog story, especially after our recent difficulties in the Premier League.
‘It certainly isn’t a foregone conclusion,’ he said. ‘No matter form, no matter team, no matter status, the FA Cup has a magic that has been there forever, which means that underdogs will turn up, try to win, make things difficult for you.
‘Considering our current form, we need to be even more on-guard. We just have to worry about ourselves and get ourselves playing well, because if we play well and we do our job right then I believe we will win the game. We have to respect Morecambe and we have to respect the FA Cup.’
However, he did also hint that there could be changes to his team as he tries to balance the need to give members of his squad enough playing time to reach top form and fitness, as well as building confidence.
‘With a big squad of players, I have those decisions every week in different ways. I’m always thinking of form and fitness and what it means to the group and what it means to the individual and that’s part of my job. I will take a view first and foremost to win the game, secondly are there players that need a rest, or more minutes or confidence, because confidence has been hit in this difficult patch we’ve had recently.’
That issue of rebuilding the players’ confidence, which has inevitably taken a knock as results haven’t gone our way over recent weeks, is one that is at the front of our head coach’s mind at the moment.
‘So I’m not surprised to see some moments like that in games, in training, and of course then those players need a lift. That’s my job, that’s the staff’s job, that’s their job, because there’s only one way out of a dip in confidence and that’s to work hard.
‘I don’t know any other way out of a lack of confidence than to sprint your way out of it and fight your way out of it. You shouldn’t be in this game unless you understand those moments come and the players know that. I’ve been very clear with them on that and that’s where our challenge is.’
‘It’s normal at a difficult time. Football relies so much on confidence, individually and collectively, and the easy times are when confidence is flowing – 16 games unbeaten coming out of Leeds, everyone is happy, moving the ball well, pressure doesn’t affect them on the pitch. It doesn’t take long sometimes for that to change, that’s top-level football.
As well as damaging confidence, a difficult run of results can also add pressure, but as Lampard explained that is part of his job he has always embraced. He came to Chelsea fully aware of the intense pressure the club’s ambition to win trophies can bring and is the first to put pressure on himself to succeed, even during the good times.
‘I came into this job expecting pressure, and my personality means I’m quite strange, you probably have to be to do this job at times, but when things are going well I put more pressure on myself, because I worry about what’s around the corner, I worry about complacency. In the unbeaten run I was constantly under pressure from myself about people telling me how great we were.
‘Of course I understand the pressure heightens because I understand the expectations of a club like this, but I love doing what I’m doing and I never expected an easy run in this job. I’ve come to a huge club in the Premier League and world football in the process of a rebuild. That was never going to be an easy run so I have to expect these situations.’