Mourinho to take Makelele route to get the best out of Lampard
Jose Mourinho has admitted that he no longer regards Frank Lampard as physically capable of playing 60 matches a season but is adamant that the quality of the England midfielder's performances have not dipped over the past six years.
At 35, Lampard is Mourinho's oldest outfield player and, in assessing the way the manager may need to rotate his vice-captain this season, he drew comparison with how he managed Claude Makelele during his first spell at Chelsea between 2004 and 2007.
Mourinho also stressed that he would not try to curb Lampard's attacking instincts and assign him more of a 'Makelele role'. An achilles tendon injury has kept Lampard out of the club's opening two matches of pre-season but he has continued to train with the squad in Indonesia.
"He can't play 60 matches like he did before, but the quality of the player is exactly the same," Mourinho said. "The role doesn't have to change. What has to change is the way we analyse competition because before we didn't. Before it was, 'every match, he plays'.
"Sometimes I wanted to give him a rest in a League Cup match and he said: 'I have to play every three days.' He is the same player, with the difference that he is 35 and the time to recover is not the same for a man of 25."
Despite generally playing in a deeper midfielder role, Lampard (above) continued his extraordinary goals ratio from midfield last season. Makelele always played at least 40 games under Mourinho during his three previous seasons at the club and rarely missed the most important fixtures.
Chelsea played 69 games last season, with Lampard featuring in 50 of those fixtures. "He's intelligent, he's open, he has a very good relationship with me," Mourinho said.
"He knows that I'm experienced and he knows what I did with Makelele. We have to be just clever, because the player is the same."
Mourinho stressed that Lampard's performances rather than his age will shape the future.
"I like players without passports," he said. "Performance is how good you are, not your passport or birth certificate." (© Daily Telegraph, London)