Frank Lampard wants to be the eye of the storm. The calmness. He wants to be that in the short-term and the long-term.
He wants to be the steady guiding presence in our battle to hold on to fourth place this season — a battle in which he believes we’re the underdogs after a January that saw everyone below us strengthen — and he wants to be the steady guiding presence as we move above and beyond the current standard of just a top-four finish.
“Coming fourth for Chelsea is our aim now, but it shouldn’t be our aim long term. We want to be pushing again to close the gap to the standard, which at the minute is Liverpool. That’s the longer-term vision and sometimes within that long-term vision you need a bit of calmness within the storm. Hopefully I can be that, but stay driven.”
Lampard of course knows that he cannot be the long-term calmness if he doesn’t succeed at being the short-term calmness. That’s just the harsh reality of the business, even at Chelsea this season, in the most transitional of recent transition seasons.
Lampard will also know, perhaps better than anyone, that he cannot succeed at the short-term calmness if he doesn’t get his players to perform at the levels they need to be in order to do so — assuming we have the quality to do so in the first place (which we have to, otherwise this is all a moot point).
“I always like to reflect on myself and how I work day-to-day with the players, so there was a lot of self reflection and having a little time away brings a bit of clarity to think we should be happy in fourth position. [...] In the moment every point you feel like you’ve dropped really hurts, but at the same time we have to realise where we are. We are in a bit of a transition and the Premier League has never been as competitive as it is now.”
“I think being fourth would have been a plus at the start of the season, but at the same time, I think about how we can get that extra 10 or 15 per cent that I think we’ve been lacking, that if we’d had would have got us a lot more points on the board and would make fourth look a lot more comfortable. So I’ve come back very keen and excited to hit this long run-in to the end of the season.”
“The players should know that if you want to make the top four, we’re in a good position now and we can affect it seriously over the next seven days. That’s not bad to have in your mind. We should be slightly on edge. Training should be on edge, like it has been, when people are tense and being competitive, and we have to take that into the game against Manchester United.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Any way you look at it, that’s a lot of pressure to be dealing with. The season may be transitional in name, but not necessarily in nature. Many of the key players may be young in age and unproven in experience, but now need to be primed in performance. Lampard may have a long leash in theory, almost a free season in essence, but I think we’d all rather not find out where the actual limits lie.
How we handle all those pressures, external, internal, whatever-ernal, will determine how the final third of the season plays out.
“It’s a critical time for us and I need the young players to do their thing. I think when you come through this academy, you should understand what playing for the first team at Chelsea looks like. You must always drive yourself and drive yourself and, if there’s times when you’re not necessarily at your best, you need to drive yourself again.
“The young players have made a great impact this season and we’ve had reliance on them to a degree, because we knew we couldn’t bring anyone in at the start. Through the season I think there are going to be some difficult times and, if you look at Tammy Abraham at the moment, and maybe Mason [Mount], I think the break was particularly good for them as they can come back and hopefully show more levels in their game.
“There’s been tough little times recently and I think it’s up to them now. They’ve shown they’re part of this first-team squad and they’ve all had their good inputs but I want more and I think I want more now.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Telegraph