Frank Lampard plays down trophy-laden playing career to focus on Chelsea job
The former England midfielder is back at Stamford Bridge having been appointed the club’s new head coach.
Frank Lampard wants his trophy-laden playing career to be considered for only a matter of minutes before he gets on with the task of managing Chelsea to further success.
The former England midfielder is back at Stamford Bridge having been appointed the club’s new head coach following a season in charge of Sky Bet Championship side Derby.
Lampard has signed a three-year deal to replace Maurizio Sarri after the Italian left to join Juventus in June, with assistant manager Jody Morris and first-team coach Chris Jones following him from Pride Park. Gianfranco Zolan, Sarri’s assistant, has left the club.
The 41-year-old is Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorer and won 11 major honours during a successful 13-year stint in west London.
While playing at a high level for such a long period of time brings demands by itself, Lampard believes he now faces more pressure to deliver.
“Yes, yes I would,” he replied when asked if he would say being head coach of Chelsea was the biggest challenge of his career to date.
“Because my playing career is done…great memories and great challenges along the way and I always loved a challenge.
“Coming here 19 years ago was a challenge. I remember driving home and had the radio on and some people were questioning whether I should be here for £11million.
“I worked really hard to put that right as a player and now I am in a position where I have to work really hard to be successful as a manager here.
“When I started out in management one year ago I thought that was a challenge, because you have to start again. I don’t want credit for my playing career.
“I think that should last five minutes and I understand that should last five minutes because I should be judged on what I do here and what I do going forward.”
Morris, another former Chelsea midfielder, and ex-Blues coach Jones form part of a new-look set-up at the club.
Lampard revealed Eddie Newton, another Chelsea alumni, and under-23s coach Joe Edwards will form part of his backroom staff.
His former team-mates Didier Drogba and Claude Makelele have also been linked with returns, while Petr Cech is back in the role of technical and performance advisor.
But Lampard insists any appointments to his staff will be made on merit and not purely on sentiment.
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“It’s a very Chelsea orientated team but what I want to make clear is this is not an old boys club,” he said.
“What I’m trying to put together with this staff is talent, it’s fresh talent in my eyes. We are relatively young but we are not inexperienced.
“I may have only one year in management but in Jody, Joe and Eddie and Chris we have many years of coaching within us.
“And you mention about Petr and you mention about the talk of Didier and Makelele.
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“I think what we are trying to do and that is not just me – it is the club, is to bring in not just players who played for the club because they played for the club, we are trying to bring in people that feel the club. Yes, first and foremost, yes that is nice but also people with an incredible work ethic.”
Chelsea are also in the midst of appealing against a transfer ban imposed by FIFA following irregularities in the signing of young players.
Unless an appeal is successful at some point, Lampard will therefore be unable to recruit new players in the next two transfer windows.
“I believe in myself completely and I want to show that I am ready to manage this club with one year experience or 10 years’ experience,” he added.
“What will define me and my time here will be my work ethic and what I put into it to try to bring success.
“I mentioned on one hand to work with young players and that will be really important and one of my first jobs to do, and I will do it throughout my time.
“But at the same time, I want to work with the experienced players, the ones who have been around a long time and feel the club.
“I want players, whether you are 18 years of age or 32 years of age. This is your club and you are not just passing through Chelsea into something else. I want people who want to be here.”
Lampard is expected to dip into Chelsea’s celebrated academy in order to navigate the transfer ban.
That, he thinks, should not stop them challenging for silverware, and he says the juniors must earn their spot as well.
“The reality is we should be competing no matter what and my job is to try and find a balance between the players that think they are in the first-team squad and the players breaking through,” he said.
“There is no use me sitting here and saying I’m going to play all the young players, they have to show individually they can do it so the balance from me will be to remain competitive and bring them through.
“This is Chelsea so I am not going to be doing young boys favours and put them in the team. They need to prove themselves to get in the team and if they can do that I will be proud because it will be what I see as a big part of my job this year.