• With rookie boss Lampard in charge, Chelsea face fierce competition from five other clubs for the coveted Champions League spots.
• When I started out in management one year ago (at Derby) I thought that was a challenge, because you have to start again — Lampard
Frank Lampard insists he can defy the doubters and lead Chelsea to a top-four finish in his first season in charge.
Club legend Lampard’s fairytale Chelsea return, as head coach on a three-year deal, was confirmed on Thursday and he outlined his plans to maintain their high standards despite a few handicaps.
They have made Mateo Kovacic’s loan from Real Madrid permanent for £40million, and Christian Pulisic will be available after signing from Borussia Dortmund for £58m in January and spending the rest of last season on loan in Germany.
But Chelsea have lost their best player, Eden Hazard, and can’t buy reinforcements due to a transfer ban. With rookie boss Lampard in charge, they face fierce competition from five other clubs for the coveted Champions League spots.
Lampard said: “I played here for many years and I know there are standards. Do we want to be playing Champions League football year-in, year-out? Yes, for sure, and that is something that should drive us all on — myself and the players included. No they haven’t said that is the target and I don’t think they need to.”
“It’s very clear that generally, barring a couple of seasons in recent years, we are a club that has managed to be top four or winning titles. We do have a deep enough squad for the top four.”
Chelsea’s 211-goal, all-time top scorer, Lampard described his new job as the biggest challenge of his career and vowed to prove his worth to the club all over again.
He said: “Coming here 18 years ago was a challenge. I remember driving home, I had the radio on and people were questioning whether I should be here for £11million. I worked really hard to put that right as a player and now I am in a position where I have to work really hard to be successful as a manager here. When I started out in management one year ago (at Derby) I thought that was a challenge, because you have to start again.”
“I don’t want credit for my playing career. I should be judged on what I do here. If I wanted to go away for the rest of my life, look back on my career and protect it, I could have done that. I don’t see it as a risk. I feel proud to have been chosen and now it is up to me to show they made the right decision.”