Frank Lampard met standard expectations in his first season as Chelsea head coach, finishing in the top four, reaching a cup final, and advancing to the Champions League knockout stages. But because last season was anything but standard — from transfer bans to pandemics — just achieving the minimum standard can be seen as a job well done.
There will be no such attenuating circumstances (hopefully!) for the second season however. And the pressure will only ramp up after this summer’s spending spree.
“I’m very aware that a club like Chelsea, even though we had a transfer ban, even though the year was difficult, expectations are going to go up hugely. And I just have to accept that as part of the job, and try and go about my job as well as I can. And then if I am having relationships, between managing up (to the board) or managing around me, I have to be as good as I can with those, because they’re really important.
“Because the tough times will come, and I’ll rely on those, all of those little ones. And it might not be managing up, that might be managing the kit man or a member of staff around you. Because I’ve seen how the dominoes can fall very quickly. And I think if you isolate yourself as a manager, or you don’t want to open yourself up to all of those relationships along the way, I think they fall much quicker.”
Lampard may be a club legend, an absolutely adored fan favorite, respected and loved by the organization just the same, but results are still what drive the business of football and the business of winning. And that’s the business we all want to be in, Super Frank included of course.
“I think we achieved a lot this season, because nobody expected us to come in the top four. But we lost a cup final, and then we lost to Bayern Munich. And it’s a bitter taste for me, I go away and I have a bad feel about those games.
“So I understand that those issues and problems will come again. It’s just that I, and we as staff, have to double down. We have to work harder.”
Chelsea’s issues were numerous and extended to every phase, from defense to attack, from inconsistencies to fragilities, to every step in between. But the talent of the team is undeniable, and we’ve only added to that with massive signings to signal our intent loud and clear for this season.
Lampard’s job is to integrate the fresh faces and figure out how to best make use of all the quality at his disposal.
“We have to analyse why we conceded 50 goals, and not just me saying, ‘yeah, it’s because of him’, and ‘he could have done better’. What could have I done to do better? So the messy patch is always going to come.
“Even if you’re Liverpool now, who were absolutely incredible. I’m sure Jurgen Klopp has not had his feet up for the last three weeks going, ‘OK, what great players we’ve got, we’re just going to kill it again next year’.
“It will be, ‘where’s next’. So my version of that has to be, ‘how can I keep going and improving, and be ready for the messy patch’.”
-Frank Lampard; source: The High Performance Podcast via FourFourTwo
In many ways, Lampard got a free ride last year. He probably could’ve gotten away with a worse season, even. But he won’t be so lucky this year. The honeymoon is over.