The smile on Frank Lampard’s face when he entered the media room at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground on Thursday afternoon told the whole story of how he felt returning to the club.
Chelsea confirmed the 44-year-old’s return on a caretaker basis until the end of the season shortly before he addressed the media ahead of his first game in charge which comes against Wolves at Molineux on Saturday.
Lampard has been brought in to fill the gap for the final two months following the sacking of Graham Potter, with Chelsea going through a thorough and exhaustive process to find a permanent successor. Talks with Julian Nagelsmann and Luis Enrique have taken place already.
“We are delighted to welcome Frank back to Stamford Bridge,” said co-controlling owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali. “Frank is a Premier League Hall of Famer and a legend at this club. As we continue our thorough and exhaustive process for a permanent head coach, we want to provide the club and our fans with a clear and stable plan for the remainder of the season.
“We want to give ourselves every chance of success and Frank has all of the characteristics and qualities we need to drive us to the finish line.
“We have an important game against Wolves on Saturday and then we will turn our attention to our Champions League quarter-final in Madrid next week. We are all going to give Frank our full backing as we aim to get the best possible outcome from all our remaining games.”
Before Lampard sat down with the media on Thursday afternoon shortly after 1.30pm, his face as he walked into the room to be greeted by reporters was a picture. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Lampard’s beaming smile and grin was enough to express how he felt at returning to his home and, as he put it, his club.
Lampard wants to create a confident side that the fans can be proud of, to finish the season strongly, with nine Premier League games left to play and their Champions League hopes still alive.
“It’s a pretty easy decision to make,” responded the new Chelsea interim boss on accepting the short-term position. “This is my club. In terms of my playing career and having coached here before. I have a lot of emotions and feelings towards the club. I’m also a very practical person. When you become a manager, you understand that you don’t manage the club you say is yours forever.
“I’ve been on a different path since I left Chelsea but to come back at time where the club have asked me to come and take the role, that’s the most important thing, but also with the belief that I can come and help the cause in this period until the end of the season.
“I’m delighted to get the opportunity and I want to be thankful for that, for the people that have decided to give me an opportunity. I’m confident in myself, have a good understanding of the squad, of course I’ve worked with a lot of them before, but also the training ground, the stadium, the fans, what Chelsea fans want and I’ll do my utmost in this period to give them what they want with my own hard work.”
Lampard is aware of his remit and refused to be drawn into any talk over whether or not he would like to stay at the club longer than the planned two months.
He added: The role and the explanation of my role speaks for itself in the period that I’m here for. On that term, I’m not getting anywhere ahead of myself. I want to do the best possible role that I can impact the club in the best way in this period. After that, we’ll see what happens.”
The Chelsea interim head coach will be hoping to get off to the perfect start on Saturday against Wolves, but boss Julen Lopetegui is in no mood to do the Blues any favours and remains fully focused on beating ‘one of the best squads in the world’ this weekend.
The Wolves manager admitted: “First of all, I’m sorry for Graham Potter and welcome to the new coach Frank Lampard. It’s not under my control that it was going to happen, so we have to put the focus in ourselves, in our team.
“Chelsea is maybe one of the best squads in the world, a lot of top players in all of the position. With a new coach, we don’t know if he will change anything or not. This is not under our control. We have to put the focus in our work.”
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