Frank Lampard says Chelsea head coach job is the biggest challenge of his career
New Blues boss indicates willingness to use young players and insists top four finish is possible
By Joe Shread
Last Updated: 05/07/19 9:02am
Frank Lampard says his new role as Chelsea head coach will be the biggest challenge of his career.
The 41-year-old was appointed on Thursday after impressing in his first year in management by leading Derby to the Sky Bet Championship play-off final last season.
Lampard is Chelsea's record goalscorer, having played for the Blues for 13 years, and represented England 106 times, but asked if his new role in the Stamford Bridge dugout would be the greatest challenge of his career, he said: "Yes.
- Chelsea appoint Lampard as head coach
- Youth to flourish under Lampard?
- New path for Abramovich's Chelsea
"My playing career is done - great memories and challenges along the way. I always loved a challenge. Coming here 19 years ago was a challenge.
"I remember driving home with the radio on and some people were questioning whether I should be here for £11m. I worked really hard to try and put that right and now I'm going to work really hard to be successful as a manager here.
"When I started out in management I thought last year was a challenge. I don't want credit for my playing career; I should be judged on what I do here."
- Redknapp: Chelsea must be realistic
- Lampard's return: Key questions answered
- Lampard's best Chelsea moments
Lampard also admitted that he understood people would question whether he has enough experience to manage a club of Chelsea's size and that it was up to him to prove any doubters wrong.
"I thought about it a lot," he added. "One year in professional management and you get the Chelsea job - that doesn't come around very often.
"I played under a lot of fantastic managers, so that stands me in good stead. I've had one year at Derby where I learnt a lot and I know about this club; I know how it works.
"But I have to prove that. I'm ready for that. I believe in myself completely and I want to prove I'm ready to manage this club."
Lampard takes charge of Chelsea at a challenging time for the club, with star player Eden Hazard having been sold to Real Madrid and a two-window registration ban imposed by FIFA preventing them signing new players.
However, Lampard insists there is no reason the Blues cannot repeat last season's achievement of finishing in the Premier League top four, saying: "There's a lot of competition at the top of the league, but we have a very strong squad.
"I don't want to talk down this squad because there's huge talent there. It's a team that managed to come third last year and win the Europa League. We haven't been decimated.
"I know what is expected and I understand that's where we should be."
Chelsea's inability to add new players to their squad this summer may force them to rely more heavily on some of the young players who have been in their academy or on loan at other clubs.
However, that is something Lampard says he is willing to embrace, adding: "We have a very strong squad and great young players that have the talent to be huge players for this club. Part of my job will be to get that out of them.
"The academy have been doing great work for years, so it would be remiss for me to come in and say I'm not going to look at that."
Lampard will be assisted at Chelsea by Jody Morris, the former Chelsea midfielder and youth coach who worked with him at Derby. Gianfranco Zola, who was number two to Lampard's predecessor Maurizio Sarri, has left the club.