Frank Lampard has identified right Chelsea player to stop the rot after just one game
Frank Lampard’s tenure as caretaker boss got off to the worst possible start on Saturday as his Chelsea side suffered a loss to relegation-threatened Wolves
Raheem Sterling will be at the heart of Frank Lampard’s efforts to breathe new life into Chelsea.
The interim boss has identified the England winger as one of the men he wants to stop the rot at Stamford Bridge. Sterling has suffered a stop-start campaign due to a couple of niggling injuries as a whirlwind of chaos has blown through the club.
But the striker showed enough in the opening half to suggest his confidence has not taken as big a battering as some of his colleagues’ – and Lampard has quickly zeroed in on that.
He said: “Raheem’s a fantastic player. He’s been one of the best wingers in the world for a long time, at times, maybe in some people’s opinion, the best. I can’t remember how many times I’ve referenced to young wingers when I was here previously at Chelsea, at Derby – and Everton actually.
“I’ve said: ‘Watch Raheem Sterling and see why he scores 20 goals a season,’ – so I have the highest feeling for him in that sense. In the last couple of days I’ve spoken to him a little bit.
“We have to get the right team structure to make it best for the players and drive them and, of course, I’ve only been here a couple of days. I’ll be speaking to Raheem more as we go on – I just think he’s a top player.
“It’s always 50-50 for me, getting the right structure for a player and then the player themselves doing their bit – but Raheem has shown what a player he is.”
Chelsea head into this week’s Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid desperately seeking the kind of form that will topple Los Blancos. The fabulous fightback against Borussia Dortmund already seems like a distant memory and their efforts at Molineux suggested there is plenty of work to be done to repair the damage.
Confidence is clearly at a low ebb but Sterling has been the man for the biggest stages – he was one of England’s top performers at Euro 2020. Might he still have that level of performance in him?
Lampard added: “Possibly…I haven’t watched every Chelsea game this season, at times I was obviously do my thing, but he certainly is a player of a high level and understanding of the game that it won’t faze him.
“In fact, he’s risen to games like that before in the past so that’s something we’ll obviously rely on in terms of this because some elements of the squad are maybe a bit younger. Raheem has been there and done it and has a history of producing at that level.”
Lampard recognises the romanticism of a club in the midst of domestic issues rousing themselves for one hurrah. He was part of the side that lifted the Champions League 11 years ago after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked, leaving Roberto di Matteo with the job of leading the Blues to ultimate glory.
But the 44-year-old is canny enough to know that football doesn’t work on romanticism. He said: “I understand it. Wouldn’t we all love to see it again? But there’s a lot to it.
“Part of it was that we parked the bus at the Nou Camp in the semi-final and managed to hold on for our dear lives! There are so many things, fate in different moments.
“But we did have a huge desire and big character and a level of talent in that group that had been striving for years to win a Champions League – so that one you remember.
“A team and a group will always go through tough moments to get to great and we’re actually in a different position where w’re trying to put something together with great intention.
“So, we’re not in that position but we do have an opportunity against a fantastic team and we have to make the most of that. We know it will be challenging and I don’t think history has a big effect upon it – but I understand the romantic idea.”
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