Frank Lampard vows Chelsea return as host of stars prepare for own farewell
Frank Lampard says he will “never say goodbye” to Chelsea supporters as he urges incoming manager Mauricio Pochettino to relish the challenge of reviving the club.
The 44-year-old will on Sunday attempt to secure just his second win in an 11-game interim spell, as the Premier League season draws to a close, before handing over to the new boss.
Results have been dire but his brief tenure remains appreciated by many match-going supporters. Lampard’s name was chanted from the away end despite another desperate 4-1 defeat at Manchester United on Thursday night.
Lampard wants to personally deliver a handover to his incoming successor Pochettino, but insists it isn’t goodbye.
“I don’t want this to sound too corny but I will never feel like I am saying goodbye to the fans,” he told reporters. “I live close enough to the stadium and I will be back at Chelsea many times.”
Lampard already has a positive relationship with Pochettino and is looking to help the Argentine’s start by feeding back to co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart on issues he has found.
The former Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain manager could be announced next week before tackling a plethora of problems which include, as Lampard describes, a fundamental drop in training standards.
"It starts with how you work and how you train,” Lampard added after his side were blown away at Old Trafford through goals from Casemiro, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford. “If I’m honest collective training has been the thing that was quite glaringly short."
Lampard currently has nine players out injured and has complained about the overall level of fitness of his squad. Pochettino will need to drill his players physically as he fixes Chelsea's inability to score enough goals.
Joao Felix’s 89th-minute consolation goal was just Chelsea’s 37th goal in 37 league games, with only three other Premier League teams having scored fewer this season.
Lampard publicly wished Pochettino well, urging him to relish the size of the challenge he now faces. “I think it is a fantastic job because it is the Chelsea job. When I took it the first time I came in, I knew I got it because a lot of top managers didn’t want it [because of the transfer ban], I know that for a fact.
“I enjoyed the process and I enjoyed coming in and I wish the new manager well. I don’t know [if it will be hard], that’s his problem.”
Pochettino’s first task will be to clear out a huge proportion of Chelsea’s squad. It bloated to 32 players after Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital took spending to a world record £600million across two transfer windows.
Although many of the players are talented, the group has been unworkably large for Lampard, as it was for his predecessor Graham Potter.
Player sales are necessary to help the club cope with failing to qualify for Europe, the £121million loss revealed in the club accounts and their presence on UEFA’s Financial Fair Play watchlist.
Chelsea will, however, still look to sign a striker to solve the goalscoring issues after Lampard described his team as 'non-clinical' on Thursday. Mykhailo Mudryk, Kai Havertz and Conor Gallagher were all guilty of missing fine opportunities at Old Trafford with the game still in the balance during the first half.
The Blues also want a goalkeeper to compete with Kepa Arrizabalaga, who saved a host of efforts in a dire second-half performance to keep the score down, as Edouard Mendy prepares to leave Stamford Bridge.
Mendy will be one of many senior stars waving goodbye to supporters during the customary post-season lap of honour.
Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Kalidou Koulibaly, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and many others could also exit and be involved in an emotional farewell on Sunday.
Lampard, however, seemed relaxed. He simply wants to do his bit to send supporters away feeling more positive and help lay the groundwork for Pochettino's tenure, concluding: “I’m not too nostalgic but certainly do appreciate the fans’ support. On Sunday, more than anything, I would love to give them a performance to take away for the summer to feel a bit more positive.”