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Newly minted Premier League Hall of Famer Frank Lampard reflects on Chelsea tenure

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Hall of Fame player; just getting started manager

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Frank Lampard, Premier League Hall of Fame inductee
Graphic by Premier League; archive action shots by Getty Images

Frank Lampard was announced as one of the eight inaugural members of the brand new Premier League Hall of Fame this week, joining Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry (who were both chosen by a panel) and Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Dennis Bergkamp, Steven Gerrard, and David Beckham (who, like Lampard, were chosen by a public vote).

Congrats to Super Frank, who was the only Chelsea nominee to gain enough votes. Better luck next time, John Terry, Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole, and Petr Čech (who didn’t even get nominated, probably because technically he’s un-retired).

In any case, beyond that bit of silliness, Super Frank gave a nice lengthy interview to Matt Law of the Telegraph, reflecting mostly on his tenure as Chelsea head coach. It’s the first-time he’s truly reflected on those 18 months in public, which doesn’t sound like a long time but when it comes to Chelsea coaches, it’s actually not terrible. Very few last more than a season around these parts after all (only José Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, and Antonio Conte have under Abramovich)...

“I have to say that when you lose your job it’s hard [but] I wouldn’t have gone into the job without a full understanding that at some stage I might leave in whatever circumstances. I didn’t go into it with just a full heart [...] I went into it with a full head and realising what an opportunity it was. Would it last forever? History tells you probably not.”

“[If I had] come back to Chelsea at 55 years of age, with titles behind me, I think the rules would be the same. There is an expectation to perform, and to win and if you don’t then you might leave the club.”

In that season and a half, Lampard has managed to leave a pretty strong legacy, not just in terms of results such as winning our Champions League group or reaching an FA Cup final, but also in a way that may be much more impactful and permanent in shifting the paradigm regarding youth players and their first-team integration.

Chelsea Training and Press Conference Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Only time will tell whether that’s truly part of the club’s ethos going forward, but Lamps and of course Jody Morris as his assistant certainly did make their mark in that regard.

“I wanted to go into Chelsea, make them move the ball quicker, make them penetrate lines quicker. I wanted to go and do my thing and try to bring through some younger players into the team. I did that. I didn’t get to the end game, but I certainly think I did a lot of things that I can be proud of.

“In hindsight, it’s so easy to look back [at] choices you made [but] I wanted to stay longer, I wanted real tangible success which, at Chelsea, is winning cups and winning leagues, but it didn’t happen. Hopefully, from where I took over the job, I’ve laid down strong foundations for the future...”

With Thomas Tuchel now building on those foundations, Chelsea do indeed look to be on the right track, and not just in knockout competitions (not that knockout competitions don’t count, especially when they’re of the Champions League variety). But the true test of a team is a league title, and that proverbial gap to the top is still there and still needing to be closed.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

As far Lampard’s own foundations, his Chelsea tenure certainly wouldn’t have hurt his career prospects, with recent rumors linking him with the Crystal Palace hotseat for example.

“I’ve come to terms with the fact that my managerial career just carries on [...] I’m not rushing into anything, but if the opportunity arises and it’s the right one, then I want to work again. It’s something I love doing, I love working in management, even more than I thought I would do.”

And of course his Chelsea legacy remains as strong as ever.

“You do wonder what the reaction will be because you’ve lost your job, will they be happy with what you did or not? And I think it made me realise even more, the bond I had with them from my playing days [and] up until the point where I left in season two.

“I was working with a real vision because I care about the club [and] the beautiful thing is that I have come away from the club that I love, played at for so long and I’ve still got some really strong connections and I love that side of it.”

-Frank Lampard; source: Telegraph

Until next time, Super Frank!