Lampard: I'll smile more when I play regularly for Chelsea
Frank Lampard has done little to dispel the tension in his relationship with manager Andre Villas-Boas by making a resounding plea not to be left out of the Chelsea team again having scored the winning goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday.
Chelsea's 2-1 victory came amid another flurry of stories about differences between Villas-Boas and senior players. In the case of Lampard, it is understood that player and manager are in complete disagreement over the former's desire to play every game.
Lampard has stopped short of publicly criticising Villas-Boas, with whom he has a difficult relationship, but he once again made it clear that he believes he should be starting the important games.
Before the Wolves match, Lampard had played 90 minutes in just one of Chelsea's previous six games – against Wigan. He was left on the bench against Valencia and Tottenham; was a substitute against Manchester City and Aston Villa and was substituted himself against Fulham.
After Monday's game there was little love lost between Villas-Boas and Lampard in their post-match interviews, with neither offering the other any form of public backing.
Asked why he had not looked happy of late, Lampard said: "I like to play football games and I like to play 90 minutes. I know what I can do. I've been here many years as part of a successful team and I like to play. I can't hide that and I don't think the manager would expect anything more from me. He's the boss, he picks the team and when I play I feel I can do things like I did [against Wolves]. And I'll keep trying to do them. Then I'll smile more."
On the stories of disharmony in the dressing room, Lampard said that it was the responsibility of the big players to get the team through a bad run of results. He said: "We've been here before. There's always a big spotlight on Chelsea. When the results go the way they have done, people talk that way. It's very important the big players in the dressing room stand up.
"It's us that can go out and make the difference to show the travelling fans today what we're about. As a group we just need to play on the pitch and then those stories go away."
The 33-year-old rejected the suggestion that he is no longer deserving of a place in the Chelsea team or that his performances were fading with age. "[When the time comes] I'll certainly hold my hands up and say I want to change and get in there [the penalty area] less but when I'm playing regularly I feel like I can do it. I'm a fit boy. I try and live as well as I can, I feel young so when I play I try to get in [to the area] as much as I can."
Lampard's attitude was different to the more conciliatory tone of John Terry who contacted the Evening Standard personally yesterday to make it clear that there is no rift between him and Villas-Boas. Terry said that he was "100 per cent behind the manager" and denied any suggestion that he had made a point of not involving himself in the first goal celebration on Monday when some players ran towards Villas-Boas.
Terry said: "The manager has made it clear that the players who want to stay here will be here and the ones who don't can move on. I have seen on the news that people are saying I didn't celebrate with the manager for the first goal against Wolves, but I did.
"I ran over there and I was worried that Wolves were about to restart and catch us on the break. I had a quick celebration with him then, and after the game as well.
"I think from a results point of view we have been giving people an opportunity to write stuff. People tend to look at it a lot deeper than it is. At the same time we need to be winning a lot more games which I'm confident we are going to do. First and foremost the club is a lot bigger than any of us. He [Villas-Boas] has come in and changed a lot of things, not only on the pitch but on the training ground as well."
Terry went as far as explaining the thinking behind Villas-Boas's decision to exclude Nicolas Anelka and Alex from the first team , both of whom have been granted permission to leave. "He doesn't want players involved in the first team who are out there speaking to other clubs," Terry said.
Terry added that owner Roman Abramovich had given his full backing to Villas-Boas's changes at the club. "He is making these changes, not for the short-term but for the long-term He is going to be the man in charge and we all have to respect his decisions. He has been very up front with all of us so we can't argue with what he's done."