After recording a clean sheet between the posts in our weekend FA Cup victory, Willy Caballero has been discussing life under Frank Lampard at Chelsea and how he is trying to pass on his wisdom to the next generation...
Caballero has worked with the great and the good in football, from Lionel Messi and Eden Hazard to Pep Guardiola and Frank Lampard. His career has spanned almost 20 years across Argentina, Spain and England so there are few in the current squad as well-placed as the 38-year-old to offer a take on life at Lampard’s Chelsea this season.
The Blues are currently benefiting from consecutive midweeks free of match action for the first time since the November international break, an opportunity to recuperate a little, reflect on a busy festive programme and reset goals for the remainder of the campaign.
Our cushion in the top four is currently five points, while we have knockout assignments on the horizon against Hull City and Bayern Munich in the coming months. While Caballero, who has played three times in cup competitions this campaign, acknowledges that the team must strive for certain objectives on the field, he also admits to hugely enjoying the style of working under the new boss.
‘I worked for two years with Italian coaches and they have their idea to do things, with repetitions every day,’ he said. ‘The way we are working, training and playing with Frank is totally different and it’s totally beautiful to train with him.
‘Sometimes as players we have our jobs to do but during the week we have to enjoy and we are enjoying training a lot. I don’t want to say it’s all funny things because we are professional but we are enjoying doing the shooting sessions, the competitions, and we are training our skills.
‘With big managers, I've been training just for the win or I've been playing just to win but with Frank, we train our skills. Sometimes managers don’t know what they can do or can offer to players because they know the level of the player and they think they cannot improve the player’s level. In fact, this is possible and Lampard is doing this.’
Caballero spent a season as a team-mate of Lampard’s at Manchester City in 2014/15 and he claims it took a little bit of time to adjust to the player-coach relationship at the start of the season, though it quickly became natural as the new dynamics were established.
‘I've played with him, but also a few players here have played with him, so I'm not the only one,’ Caballero continued. ‘I had a good experience with him at City and we have good memories.
‘It was funny to start the season and see him as a coach, then to listen to him now, giving us orders and taking training. On the second day, I realised that now he's my boss - I needed a few hours to adjust!
‘First of all, you have to respect more now. I think everything that you live as a player just stays there in the changing room and in your memory and now it’s another turn of the page and a chapter of the book, for him and for me too.
‘I knew him as a player and he’s showing us in the way he’s believing and the way we have to train and play. It’s fantastic and it’s good to see that.’
The South American will turn 40 next year and remains the veteran of the Chelsea dressing room. Old enough, by his own admission, to be the dad of some of the youngest players in the dressing room, he is happy to impart his footballing wisdom and experience to the next generation but claims to have been impressed with how mature they already are.
‘I’ve been lucky to train with Messi, Sergio Aguero and a lot of good players, including at Chelsea with Eden Hazard last season and with Willian now,’ he added. ‘With the kids we have in the team, we have a lot of talent now and we have a great future.
‘The most important thing is they are very settled in the mind, which is what Frank wants. I’ve not listened to the boys talking about money and that’s fantastic - they are speaking about football and they want to win. It’s a great atmosphere that we live in the dressing room.
‘As an experienced player, sometimes you have to help the kids in the way they are training, or what they have to change. You can help them to improve because you have lived a lot of seasons but I feel sometimes that I am helping them but they don’t need too much.
‘All of them are playing well but I like to watch Mason Mount. He’s doing good things and he’s good at listening so he can be a great talent for Chelsea and England.’
-You can hear more from Caballero in the latest The Offside Rule podcast