Frank Lampard has discussed the key ingredients of his managerial philosophy and how he tries to create a winning mentality at Chelsea.
After a hugely successful playing career during which he won pretty much every trophy on offer with the Blues, Lampard is now in his third season as a manager and trying to use the lessons he has learned from his time in football to build capable of lifting more silverware for the club.
The Chelsea head coach went into great detail on what he thinks is important to succeed at the highest level in sport, focusing on why he has found it vital to take full responsibility, both as a player and manager, while avoiding the temptation to blame others when things don’t go your team’s way.
‘One thing I’ve seen in football, from being a young man trying to make it playing to now managing, is a kind of blame culture. I hear it a lot,’ said Lampard. ‘Part of the way I am is that I never want to look at things that way.
‘As a player it was very easy to look at it and say it was the back-four’s fault or I’ll blame the strikers because they didn’t finish my chances. But generally I’m always looking at myself. I was always my own biggest critic. On the pitch and off the pitch, I of course made loads of mistakes, but if you want to get better you have to take responsibility.’
Unsurprisingly, he is keen to encourage the same mindset in his players now he is a manager.
‘It’s of upmost importance to me as a manager and it’s a message that you really have to drill home, because it’s very easy when you’re a coach or a manager and you’ve been there and had your career and you know you made a million mistakes, when you sit at the top of the tree, or in my office at Chelsea, not to think like the 21-year-old who’s making those mistakes you made and just think you’re above it.
‘You have to get on the level of these players and they all have different thoughts, they all have different reasons, something at home, on the training pitch, how they see things. So I can’t think that my morals or my values just transmit to everybody and then everyone will be a great trainer like I was and make the most of their talent. Because I didn’t, I made mistakes.
‘I have to be very open to that. So for the players to try to take responsibility is a daily chip away at trying to create something that feels that way and we’re in that process at Chelsea. I’m not going to lie, we’ve not won that battle yet, because it definitely takes time, particularly with a younger squad and we have a lot of young players.’
Lampard also feels that attitude of personal responsibility has to start with the manager leading by example and being honest with his players.
‘My view now as a manager is that I am responsible and I think that the only way you can create an environment that looks like you’re asking for everyone to be 100 per cent responsible is by them seeing that from yourself. So I don’t think it’s a problem to show weakness. I don’t think it’s a problem for me to try to prepare a team for a week and work on a shape and then you come up and it doesn’t work at the weekend, to be a bit open with the players.
‘One of my things that I really try to do is look at myself and say; “what could I have done there, I can’t blame the players for that performance”. At moments you’ll sit down with reflection, and of course you look at how the squad looks, but I must make myself 100 per cent culpable as well.’
Another aspect of managing the team’s mentality that Lampard feels rests firmly on his own shoulders is to ensure the right levels or respect and togetherness within the squad.
‘I want us to be a group of good people as well as good players and a good team,’ he explained. ‘I think you have to have respect among each other and you definitely at the top of the club set that tone. That is definitely on me, I’m 100 per cent responsible for that one, and you try to promote that regularly in how you train, how you act, and if you see things that you don’t like within the group you have to act upon them. I want players that can rely on each other when they go out on the pitch, that are going to be tough and back each other up at the right moments.’
Our head coach also revealed what he feels is the most important lesson he has learned during his time in management so far.
‘There are so many things tactically so I won’t touch on that because I think there is a big part of that, but probably the one of personal relationships with the players and the group relationship you have with them,’ said Lampard. ‘Trying to strike that right balance, because for me a high-performing group or team, it has to be a balance between being really positive but being slightly on edge.
‘So it’s like “how positive can I be where I don’t want to sound like I’m just trying to be a cheerleader here and not see that we’ve lost two games on the bounce”. I can’t just keep being positive. And when we’re winning and it’s great, how can I keep them on edge, just so they don’t think we’re going to win every game, because I’ve seen that one before many a time and then you lose the next game.
‘So I think I try to create that kind of balance and I’m still striving for that. I still think a lot about that and go over it myself. I think you do have to keep analysing that one because it’s always different, but I think that’s the thing that I’ve learned, that you can’t neglect that side of it.’