Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Lampard stresses Champions League importance for Chelsea

SoccerNews in English Premier League 4 Jul 2019

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Frank Lampard believes Chelsea have the quality to compensate for Eden Hazard’s exit and should settle for nothing less than a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Though tasked with guiding academy prospects into the first team amid a ban on registering new players, head coach Lampard described an “intention to win” as non-negotiable for a squad blessed with talent that “can be huge” at Stamford Bridge.

That begins with keeping the club in the Champions League, a challenge made more difficult by Hazard’s departure for Real Madrid.

Lampard – handed a three-year deal despite his managerial inexperience – claims the board have set no minimum expectations in terms of league position.

But the Blues legend, who left Derby County to take the post, outlined the importance of keeping pace with the pack as he faced the media in his new role for the first time on Thursday.

“We want to be playing Champions League football year in, year out,” Lampard said.

“For sure there is a lot of competition at the top of the table. We also have a very strong squad of players and there is huge talent there. We haven’t been decimated.

“Of course there are variables, we know about the transfer ban, we know Manchester City and Liverpool pulled away slightly last year.

“We have to be realistic about that, but we should never stop trying as Chelsea to be up there.”

Much of the ex-England international’s success as a player with Chelsea came under Jose Mourinho, who won three Premier League titles, three League Cups and an FA Cup across two spells in charge but twice exited in acrimonious fashion.

Lampard distanced himself from the Portuguese’s brash behaviour – wishing to avoid “self-proclaimed nicknames” – and shunned all concerns about sullying his reputation in the eyes of adoring supporters.

“I don’t see it as a risk,” he said.

“I’m the type of personality that loves challenges. I’m not fearful of the downside. I’m ready to stand up and accept that side of it.”

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