Sunday 26 February 2017

Lampard lashes Blues 'top four' mindset

Jason Burt

Frank Lampard has questioned the "mindset" at Chelsea which led to manager Andre Villas-Boas admitting that the best the club could hope for this season was a "top-four finish" in the Premier League.

"I get the hump looking at the table and seeing we're not fighting within a point or two of the lead -- never mind being in that situation," Lampard said. "We all have to have the hump with that and make sure we react. The players in this squad need to be fighting for the League, and now there's a big gap.

"But you have to have that mindset, because the minute you lose that mindset, that's the minute you become a top-four team as opposed to a team that's challenging for the title."

Villas-Boas' honest admission came after the crushing home defeat to Aston Villa on New Year's Eve but he reassessed it following the away victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers on January 2 -- even if he admitted Chelsea still had much to do to haul themselves back into contention.

Lampard scored the winning goal against Wolves and his growing frustration at the fact he is no longer regarded as an automatic first choice at Chelsea was clear when he spoke afterwards. It is a reality, however, that he has to adjust to, as John Terry alluded to yesterday in reiterating that the players have been told that Villas-Boas will continue to be their manager despite the problems of this campaign.

"Roman (Abramovich) is fully behind him, the club as well and he is making these changes, not for the short-term but for the long-term as well," said Terry. "He is going to be the man in charge and we all have to respect his decisions."

However, Lampard has voiced his concerns at the changing nature of Chelsea as Villas-Boas attempts to overhaul the squad.

With Nicolas Anelka leaving, Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda's futures in doubt and Lampard himself having only one more year left on his deal, there is a sense of a 'new Chelsea' being created which may not feature him as a cornerstone for too much longer.

Nevertheless, Lampard cautioned against disposing of some of the "big players".

"We need those big players like John Terry who was magnificent at the back (against Wolves)," he said. "The spine of the team is what's made us what we are over the past seven years. Of course, I understand that things change with time. But what we're about is that spine to an extent."

Villas-Boas has disclosed that the club had rebuffed attempts by the player's agent to open talks over a new contract, leading to speculation it could be his last season with Chelsea -- something Lampard denies. "I'll always stay completely behind the cause of Chelsea because that's me now. Chelsea's my club," he vowed. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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