César Azpilicueta may be playing under his seventh manager since joining Chelsea in 2012, but as usual, he was one of the first names on the teamsheet on Wednesday, even if it was just the first preseason match of the summer.
This appointment does feel a little different however, and not just because Azpilicueta played together with Lampard for two seasons. Lampard’s relative lack of experience stands him apart from Chelsea’s usual appointments — even André Villas-Boas had two seasons!
But Azpilicueta believes that should not be too much of an issue, given the plethora of experience that Frank has as a player, as the finest midfielder of his generation and Chelsea’s leading all-time goalscorer.
“The whole experience he has as a player, playing at the highest level, under a lot of very good managers, his personality, behaviour and experience – there is nothing to be worried about as a manager. [...] He was here for a very long and very successful period, and I can only speak the way I was with him as a player and to feel the shirt was to go every day in Cobham to be better, to train hard, to behave well on and off the pitch.
“Obviously, sometimes we lost games but always we wanted to win more and more. We have to be grateful and feel the passion for the shirt. This is a big, big club. We have to take responsibility and know that there is a lot of things around us and we have to work hard to get it better.
“Yes, of course he used to be Lamps. Now he is the boss, the manager. I shared two years with him in the dressing room and I enjoyed the time to have him as a team-mate. The way he showed in every training session, the way he wanted to break every record, the way he wanted to improve in every single session, to improve his finishing, the way he was playing was something really special to be by his side. Now it’s another time – he is the manager and, everyone, we will try to be with him because we are one and want to win.”
The sense of togetherness is perhaps Lampard’s greatest advantage at the moment. His appointment created an amazing momentum of good vibes and goodwill, and if we can ride that into a strong start to the season, we just might be able to make this thing work for more than just a few months.
“I’m sure that his desire, passion for being manager and this chance to be manager of Chelsea, the club he loves and the fans love him. All of the club, we are very excited, and the only way we can carry it is by starting and winning together, getting the feeling back of being all together as a club. Every year gets harder and harder and we have to be ready.”
“We know fans can make the difference. It is true that last season for periods we didn’t give them what they expected. Our level and performances were not good enough and the reason they were not happy with us and negative. We turned it around and got the Europa League at the end.
“You can see that this season all of the fans are very happy and we have the gaffer back at the Bridge. Now we have to give it back by working hard on the pitch, by winning games – which I think is the best way to be even more together and drive in the same way.”
-Cesar Azpilicueta; source: Telegraph
Well, for now, everything seems to be hunky-dory. Players are happy, fans are happy, manager is happy. Whether it will stay that way is another issue altogether.
Lampard may be inexperienced but he knows this club inside out and all the drama that comes with it. Hopefully, he is able to use his know-how to his advantage and give this club some sort of stability, if there even is such a thing in modern football.