- Frank Lampard knows that Chelsea got rid of him once as a player and will do so again as a manager if results don’t improve.
But the Chelsea manager, whose team take on Morecambe in the FA Cup after four defeats in six games in the Premier, says that he won’t worry about those external pressures, with Ralph Hassenhuttl, Julian Nagelsmann and Thomas Tuchel all being touted as potential Chelsea managers for next season.
Realistically Fulham away next Friday is a bigger showdown for Lampard than Morecambe. Lose at Craven Cottage and the support he has been shown so far by managing director Marina Granovskaia may wilt away.
But Lampard, who impressed working under a transfer ban last season, doesn’t expect any favours just because he is a Chelsea legend, the club’s record goal-scorer and an icon of its most successful ever team.
‘All I want to concentrate on is the job in hand and I can’t control some things,’ said Lampard. ‘I certainly don’t want to rely on anything that’s happened in the past here.
‘A month ago everything was rosy and now a month later, in very quick time, everyone is looking negatively,’ said Lampard. ‘For me, I have to be the one who looks positively and things I can’t control outside of that would be a waste of time for me.
‘I’ve felt huge support from this club, coming back here to manage them, the way it’s worked in the period I’ve been back, my time here as a player. I felt huge support for 13 years in my time as a player but in the end I left the club because they wanted to move on to other things.
‘I understand what football is, I understand the demands and expectations. So I don’t think I can earn the right of anything that takes me out of that equation. All I can do is be honest about how I see it, openly to yourselves and behind the scenes.
‘Because I understand that there’s loads to be done here and I understand the position we’re in here. And I understand that when you are young and when you’ve had a tough year last year and have new players coming in this year, that are expected to just drop into the Premier League and produce at a young age, that there are going to be challenges. The rest it out of my hands.’
With former team-mate Petr Cech, technical and performance adviser at the club and a key ally in the club hierarchy, Lampard is likely to be given time to turn around performances, with the recent upticks for other young managers Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mikel Arteta perhaps providing some solace.
Ultimately though Lampard acknowledges that will be owner Roman Abramovich’s prerogative to change if necessary.
‘It is his prerogative. And I have to sit here and say that when the when he came to Chelsea all those years ago, it made my career because maybe I would have gone on elsewhere, or whatever would have happened in my personal career.
‘But fortunately I was at a club that had an owner that brought in and absolutely changed the face of it and changed my life. But I don’t think that should give me any head start and I think the job I did last year, in one year, to get us to fourth was a huge positive for us because of the constraints.
‘After that, now I need to go again. As I said before, I never felt that it would be a straight line: I was very aware of that going into the season, particularly when we didn’t have that time to work with the new players.
‘I can see a well-trodden path [for the new signings]. I remember coming to this club a long time ago and in year one I was probably an average Premier League player, year two slightly better, year three better than that, year four and onwards my levels rose to levels I could really contribute to the club. And when I look at the new players, I see it like that. But I can’t jump out of that and try and dictate what everyone else thinks about that. It’s beyond me.’
Chelsea’s famed youth academy is likely to get a viewing against Morecambe today, with Tino Anjorin, 19, Henry Lawrence, 19, Tino Livramento, 18, Lewis Bate, 18, and Jude Soonsup-Bell, 16, having stepped up to the first-team bubble for training this week. Billy Gilmour, 19, is expected to start with Anjorin also likely to feature.
England international Fik Tomori may get a rare outing but the player is still looking to move on loan this January after making just three appearances this season.