Frank Lampard may insist that he faced plenty of pressure on the job last season, but surely that was nothing compared to the pressures he’s about to face in his second season — from both the higher-ups and the fans — after the club’s summer spending spree and stated ambitions to not be happy with just another top four finish.
The Chelsea legend is of course no stranger to such situations, though he’s largely experienced them from a different perspective. Fortunately, that does give him an understanding of what his players must do in order to help him (and the team) navigate the new reality.
“I expect them to be excited by the challenge of playing in this squad this year. I think we are searching for a story here. I don’t see it in those direct, competitive situations that we are trying to find.
“In a modern-day squad, much more than 17 years ago when we were talking about before, needs to have flexibility, needs to have competition. I don’t think we need to find direct battles at this point of the season, no.”
Just as there’s pressure on the head coach to get results, there’s pressure on the players to perform. As a player, Lampard thrived in such situations. Now he needs his players to do so as well — while finding the correct way to motivate each of them.
“In these things, the manager has choices to say things to players. I get that more than ever now I am in that job. Sometimes you feel fit to speak to players depending on their personality, other times not. With me I just saw it as a challenge. I referenced that before that when players come in to add to the squad, they might be in similar positions to you or not, but it lifts the team.
“It should lift the team. The players with the right mentality will up their game, make friends with the player, make them feel welcome and try to work within the squad as well as they can with them. Hopefully, you see levels raised throughout the squad.”
It’s going to be a tough balance to engineer. Not everybody can play every time. There are a lot of new faces, and those new faces aren’t here just to fill out numbers in training. (Thankfully.) As we saw already with the nonsense Mount (after Havertz arrived) and Abraham (after Werner arrived) stories, the situation is ripe for speculation, discord, and media attention — as well as actual strife — especially if things go south.
“The team needs to be flexible. A lot of the time I am talking about players who can play in a variety of different positions, which is always great for the manager. I just see it as a group which is hopefully stronger than last year. And the players try to give everything for the team game after game.
“I am not silly; we bring in players to improve the team to the level we feel we brought in, then you want them to play games. You brought them in to improve so you want them to play regular games but there is never a point where you actually start siding with players over either how long they have been here or how much they cost.
“Those are not the rules and nobody would expect that. We just try and create a way to have players training at such a level to give us a high level of performance. That’s a daily battle for all of us.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Goal
So, no pressure then, right, Frank?