Former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has confessed that being given his marching orders by the Blues helped him realise just how strong his bond was with the club.
Lampard had been expected to mount a title challenge with his expensive squad but was replaced by Thomas Tuchel in January after a run of miserable form had Chelsea tumbling down the Premier League table.
“I have to say that when you lose your job it’s hard,” said Lampard. “Anyone who says anything differently is a liar. It’s not the truth. There’s an element of pride, you’re working towards something one day and then it’s taken away from you. That’s life. You have to be a realist about it.
“Very quickly the dust has to settle and one of the biggest things for me, living in Chelsea, a mile from the ground, is that I walk around and see Chelsea fans all of the time. You do wonder what the reaction will be because you’ve lost your job, will they be happy with what you did or not? And I think it made me realise even more, the bond I had with them from my playing days but also what they saw, what I was working towards in season one [as head coach], up until the point where I left in season two. I was working with a real vision because I care about the club.
“I wouldn’t have gone into the job without a full understanding that at some stage I might leave in whatever circumstances. I didn’t go into it with just a full heart, wanting to go back to Chelsea after a year managing at Derby. I went into it with a full head and realising what an opportunity it was. Would it last forever? History tells you probably not.
“I’ve come to terms with the fact that my managerial career just carries on and the beautiful thing is that I have come away from the club that I love, played at for so long and I’ve still got some really strong connections and I love that side of it.”
Lampard also took the chance to defend suggestions that the job had come too soon for him. He had just one year of management with Derby County under his belt and midfielder Jorginho was one of many to claim Lampard may not have been ready to move to Stamford Bridge.
“I’ve seen some quotes saying that Frank Lampard took this job with his heart. I absolutely didn’t. I don’t make any professional decisions with my heart. Maybe I’m the absolute opposite of that. I’ll go over them a hundred times in my head, but I certainly didn’t with my heart. I took it with a pragmatic view of: ‘what’s the situation? OK, this is Chelsea, I’m going from Derby to Chelsea.’ Not many managers would turn that down head or heart, let’s get it right.
“If I was to come back to Chelsea at 55 years of age, with titles behind me, I think the rules would be the same. There is an expectation to perform, and to win and if you don’t then you might leave the club. I went into it knowing how I want to manage. From the 20 years of playing, the great managers I worked under, the year in the media where I looked at myself, where I wanted to be and if I wanted to go into management.
“After my year at Derby, I was pretty clear that I wanted to go into Chelsea, make them move the ball quicker, make them penetrate lines quicker. I wanted to go and do my thing and try to bring through some younger players into the team. I did that. I didn’t get to the end game, but I certainly think I did a lot of things that I can be proud of.
“In hindsight, it’s so easy to look back and talk about team selection or choices you made. There were small details I would look at where I could have done certain things differently. It’s important to analyse yourself and to think about how you might change in the future.
“I come away with an overall feeling of pride in what I did in the job. I wanted to stay longer, I wanted real tangible success which, at Chelsea, is winning cups and winning leagues, but it didn’t happen. Hopefully, from where I took over the job, I’ve laid down strong foundations for the future and in the context of where I wanted my managerial career to go, it was an amazing experience.”