Frank Lampard opens up on Chelsea’s owners, a bloated squad & motivation problems
Frank Lampard has backed Chelsea’s owners to turn around their fortunes at Stamford Bridge after their debut season came to a difficult end.
The legendary former midfielder returned to Chelsea towards the end of the season following the departure of Graham Potter but failed to oversee any significant changes as the Blues lost eight of his 11 games in charge.
A bloated squad of over 30 players proved a real problem for Lampard who, during his time in the role, questioned the motivation of many in his squad.
In an appearance on the Diary of a CEO podcast, Lampard offered an insight into some of the challenges he faced during his time back at Chelsea.
“I could see in training the the level wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to get a result at Brentford at home or whatever, let alone Real Madrid,” he said. “When I got there I could see the team spirit and the togetherness was not there. It was nothing bad, but you have to train elite to be elite.
“The minute we didn’t get through against Real, you’re in to that end of season zone and what are you playing for and that is not the norm at Chelsea. At Chelsea, we should be playing for something. We played for not so much, another reason why motivation came down.”
On the issues of managing a big squad, Lampard explained: “At Chelsea, you had to go ‘if I really want to focus on the 11 for tomorrow, that means I’ve got to have like 18 players over there’, and you kind of saw the body language of some of them, they walked off like ‘…again’, because they’d been having it all season. On a human level, I completely understood.
“I came back here because this was an opportunity to come back to ‘my’ club, Chelsea, a club close to my heart, but as soon as I got in…’you know what, 30 players, I can motivate in six or seven weeks. It’s not a long-term thing, I can come in and be fresh’. But I noticed very quickly that some players were feeling like the season was gonna peter out, wondering what the future was going to look like, and that was a difficult situation.
“The makeup of the squad is international players, a couple of young players, but when you try to build a squad, you have your core 15 or 16 and then maybe these two experienced players who might not need to play every week, and then we’ve got these kids that are waiting and just happy to be there.
“But when you’ve got international players in a big number, of course you’re telling internationals ‘you’ve got to stay at home’. It’s not easy. To have the conversation every Friday with them, get them lined up and coming in, it’s also not easy on your own energy. That’s not easy. I don’t care what kind of man-manager you are. However you try and box that up to a player, eventually they’ll probably go ‘I know I’m not playing, stop telling me this s**t’.”
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Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, the new owners, have faced plenty of criticism after an objectively disastrous first season at the helm, but Lampard was adamant they are the right people to turn Chelsea around.
“The intentions are certainly good,” Lampard said. “I know that. The owners gave me the opportunity to go in, and I had a good relationship with them. Their intentions to do a good job at Chelsea are amazing. They want to take the club and be the best.
“Those younger players, now with a new voice, new manager, squad coming tighter, I think they’ll have a greater chance to show what they’ve got anyway. They’re talented players.
“I think the change of ownership, a big change of structure…I think you need to give some time and leeway to the process. There certainly are now sporting directors and recruitment people in there. Having worked with them, very talented, very hungry, good to go. Now, it’ll be up to them to take the club forward.
“They haven’t signed bad players. I think the strategy of bringing them all in at the same time looks a little excitable, but I think there’s a long game and a plan. The huge clubs like Chelsea have had a version of what this period is: Manchester United, Arsenal for a long time, Liverpool for periods. To over-judge now, when they have signed some good players, would be overcritical. The proof will be how these players develop once it feels a bit more settled going forward.”
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