Learning from Jose Mourinho, trusting the kids and the balancing act of being a good manager, husband and dad – Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has talked about it all with Gary Lineker.
In an interview for Football Focus – which is on BBC One on Saturday (12:00 GMT) – the former England, Chelsea and West Ham midfielder discusses expectations and the club’s aims for the future.
The 41-year-old talks about how it will be “special” to face former boss Mourinho, when Chelsea travel to Tottenham on Sunday (16:30 GMT).
Watch the full interview on Football Focus on BBC One from 12:00 GMT on Saturday.
Three years after retiring from a 21-year playing career, Lampard is in his first season as a Premier League manager.
Having implemented a fast and fluent brand of football since becoming Chelsea manager in July, Lampard has shown he is a quick learner after spending last term cutting his teeth in the Championship with Derby.
Introducing academy graduates like Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham has helped created a feel-good factor and made light of last summer’s transfer ban.
And with the club occupying fourth place in the Premier League, Lineker asked if there were parts of the job he still had to come to terms with.
“You need really good people around you, particularly a good wife because they are the ones that can really take it, like a loss and your evening can be slightly ruined which is sometimes my fault because I should be able to let go,” Lampard replied.
“I’m trying to get a little bit more balance. But I haven’t mastered it yet. If you’re going to be on that much of a knife edge that isn’t actually very nice living. That’s where family can be very important.
“Christine does so much for me at home, we’ve got a relatively young baby, she really is incredible like that. So I’m also trying to play my part on that side and I’m also trying to be a husband and be good at my job.”
The Mourinho effect
Sunday’s match sees Lampard face Mourinho – who managed him during two spells in charge of Chelsea – for the first time in the Premier League.
The pair previously enjoyed a profitable manager/player relationship, collecting two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two EFL Cup winners medals together.
And Lampard has long acknowledged the Portuguese boss’ lasting influence on his career.
“The detail he and others brought to Chelsea was so forward-thinking at the time,” Lampard told Lineker.
“Every training session had immense detail and was planned and structured so that you’d know what you were doing from the start. I don’t think that was so evident for me before that, it was more you’d turn up for training and it would just happen.
“He would give you reasons for what was happening and it would be on the clock. That was something I certainly appreciated as a player and the modern player expects now. I liked that and responded well to that.”
Chelsea top four challengers
Chelsea travel across London having lost four of their last five Premier League games, while Tottenham have been rejuvenated under Mourinho, winning four of their last five league fixtures.
Added to that Spurs have scored 14 goals across those matches since his appointment in November – moving to fifth and within three points of Chelsea.
“He’s a man for a big club,” Lampard added. “His personality and his record is something that needs to be in top level football.
“We know the record that Jose has as a winning manager, he’s won wherever he’s been. He’s a pragmatic manager, that can be seen as a negative but I don’t mean it like that, we used to get criticised, the early Chelsea team I played in, as somewhat boring but we weren’t.
“We had [Arjen] Robben and [Damien] Duff and tools that could really hurt teams but we were also really organised. I think Jose’s first thing is to be organised, is to be structured, so I think he’ll work on that with Tottenham.
“On top of that he has some really talented players, he’s come into a club that were probably tipped to be somewhere in the title race at the beginning of the season. So with the freshness of a Jose Mourinho of course they’re going to be challengers for the top four.
“But you have to see what Liverpool and Manchester City have been doing for two years and the gap they have opened up, it is the challenge all of us have to close.
“If we can sustain Champions League football, we would probably gain confidence from a finish like that.”
The kids are alright
While Mount, Tomori and Abraham have become regulars under Lampard, the likes of Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour have also left their mark on the Blues first team this season.
“I don’t want to sit here and look at ex-managers and criticise but there’s been times over the last four or five years where a Ruben Loftus-Cheek and others could have had these opportunities,” Lampard added.
“I wanted Mason to be around because I knew him closely. He’s probably taken to the Premier League, maybe not quicker than what I thought but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well he’s taken to it.
“I didn’t have any doubts long term, I just didn’t know if it would be the start of the season that he’d be putting me under pressure to play him.
“I wanted Tammy because of what he did last year. The big thing we’ve worked on with him is making sure he’s not just a target, he uses every little bit of his attributes to run and stretch defences and I think he’s taken to that.
“For me Tomori is probably the proudest one because when he came to Derby last year it was quite a late move for us. When I came back to Chelsea you look at it and you’ve got four centre backs, so unless I trusted Fikayo there’s no way David Luiz could have moved to Arsenal.
“He has repaid that trust in a huge way. So it’s all up to them on how they prove themselves so I can pick them because this is cut-throat, if they don’t perform, whether they’re young boys or not, great potential or not, then it’s not going to be enough for a team like Chelsea.”