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Lampard: ‘I think it is important to be adaptable in terms of systems’

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Frank Lampard talks management styles, influences, “Sarriball” and the overplayed concept of “player power” of the Chelsea Old Guard

Promoting some healthcare/wellness company called Nano M — having just finished watching ‘The Inventor’ about Elizabeth Holmes, I’m super suspect of anything even remotely similar at the moment — Frank Lampard sat down with Goal’s Nizaar Kinsella recently to talk about his management style at Derby and a little bit of Chelsea, as is usual.

Nizaar has all the best interviews! You should read the whole thing of course.

In stark contrast with Chelsea’s current manager, perhaps the most striking part of the interview is Lampard’s clear and realistic vision of what sort of manager he wants to be, even though he’s been in the job less than a year. While he has all the respect for Sarri and his “belief” in a very specific philosophy, Lampard’s approach is much more pragmatic, adjustable, reactive.

And a generation of Chelsea fans who have grown up on Mourinho nod in unison.

“I want my team to play good football, but on the other side of that, I want them to be really aggressive and win the ball back. So I don’t like to try and put myself into one style of play. I think it is important to be adaptable in terms of systems.

”You can’t always play that beautiful football that you are searching for because of the conditions and the opposition. So I think, in terms of trying to box yourself into one style I think it could be wrong in my opinion. But I want to play good football, I want it to be aggressive, I want the fans to see that we are a team that plays with passion and desire and wants to win games of football.”

Marry me.

During Lampard’s 13-year Chelsea career, the most consistent label that was able to be attached to Chelsea’s style was “winning”. Some teams played possession football. Some played counter-attacking. Some passed it short a lot, some kicked it long a ton. Chelsea played winning football. Whatever it took. That attitude may have been born of Mourinho, but it was carried on well beyond The Special One’s first three seasons by what had become known as “The Old Guard”.

For better or worse, those players dragged Chelsea through thick and thin, the ups and the downs, success and failure. Not much failure. We were spoiled, really. From the outside, it may have looked like the inmates were running the asylum. And perhaps they were. But it was all in service of winning.

“We had a massive strength at Chelsea. We had fantastic managers at different times, but the strength was that the dressing room wanted to win and had a real desire to be winners.

”That’s certainly what I want as a dressing room, as a manager now. It is a very cheap and easy statement to say a problem at Chelsea is player power. Chelsea is a club that has changed managers. It is a club that demand results. [...] As a player, all I would worry about is what I did every week. Was I at my best? All John Terry concerned himself about was that. Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Petr Cech and Ashley Cole; They were all great professionals.

”So if you call having strong personalities as a player [a weakness], then I think that’s a cheap and easy way to look at it. It became more of a media word than something that was real.”

-Frank Lampard; source: Goal

We could use a bit more of this “player power” these days, methinks.

In any case, be sure to give the whole interview a read. Lampard ruminates on further cheap criticism of “Sarriball”, focusing on things he can control and affect, and his own managerial influences or lack thereof. As with just about anything Lampard says, it might be the most intelligent thing you read all week.

Chelsea Trophy Parade Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images