Chelsea boss Lampard says ruthless Russian billionaire Abramovich heralded new 'high-pressure era' for managers
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has discussed the pressures of working under notoriously ruthless Roman Abramovich, saying the Russian billionaire's arrival as owner over a decade and a half ago heralded a new era of intensity.
Lampard established himself as a Chelsea legend during his playing days at Stamford Bridge, becoming the club's all-time top scorer on his way to helping the Blues win the Champions League, Europa League and a hat-trick of Premier League titles.
The 41-year-old former midfield maestro moved into management after hanging up his boots, taking over at second-tier Derby County in the summer of 2018 and almost guiding them into the promised land of the Premier League at the first attempt, just falling short in the playoff final against an Aston Villa team containing former teammate John Terry among the coaching staff.
That failure did not stop Lampard landing the vacant Chelsea job last summer however, as he took over from the outgoing Italian Maurizio Sarri — becoming Abramovich's 13th managerial appointment since he took control of the London club in 2003.
The appointment signaled a new faith in youth by Abramovich as he gave Lampard the greenlight to bring through the club's exciting young talent such as forward Tammy Abraham, winger Callum Hudson-Odoi and midfielder Mason Mount.
Lampard's tenure has since been characterized by fluctuating fortunes as the team clings to fourth spot in the Premier League — which is currently suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chelsea are also on the verge of being dumped out of Europe in embarrassing fashion by German giants Bayern Munich, losing their Champions League last 16 quarterfinal first leg 3-0 at Stamford Bridge before the competition was suspended ahead of the return leg in Germany.
Amid the coronavirus-induced hiatus to the league season, a new book titled 'The Boss — Chelsea managers from Ted Drake to Frank Lampard' has been released charting the course of Blues managers down the years, and also features Lampard's take on his role under Russian tycoon Abramovich.
In it, Lampard says the big-spending Russian essentially changed the game when he rocked up at the Bridge over a decade and a half ago.
“It is a vastly different era now. There is a lot more structure to the clubs, with managers much more under the microscope than at any other time in the game’s history," Lampard said in extracts reported in The Sun.
“The job of management has also become far more intense over the last 20 years, especially in the Roman Abramovich era as there are high expectations which bring high levels of pressure...
“I don’t think a Chelsea manager 25 years ago would have needed the same qualities he needs now," the former England midfield man added.Also on rt.com Hammered in Europe and on shaky ground in the league… How safe is Frank Lampard from ruthless Roman Abramovich?
“I’ve taken many qualities from the managers I’ve played under. Some I’d disagree with, others I would think had the right approach.
“But all those aspects, in their different ways are an aid to the way I would like to manage myself.”
As Lampard alluded, Abramovich arguably did change the footballing landscape in England and beyond with his arrival in 2003, subsequently pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into Chelsea.
That ushered in an age in which the likes of Abu Dhabi sheiks and billionaire American financiers have followed suit elsewhere.Also on rt.com Roman Abramovich plowed $325 MILLION into Chelsea last season in show of commitment – but $35 million went on Conte sacking
Amid all the current uncertainty over when football can resume, Lampard's job is likely safe this summer given that he appears to have been given support to build a longer-term project at the Bridge, focusing on the team's ranks of youth talent.
However, should the club not secure Champions League football for next season — and they are precariously placed in fourth spot in the Premier League, three points ahead of Manchester United — it could test Abramovich's famously short fuse with his managers.
Lampard has nonetheless vowed that he can bring success back to Bridge, which last saw the Premier League title arrive under Antonio Conte in 2017.
“My objective is simple — to be as successful as it is possible to be at Chelsea," Lampard said.
“If I don’t, then that should not influence what I achieved in 13 years as a player.
“But my intention is to succeed as a manager the way I succeeded as a player."
You feel that in order to do that, Lampard will need to stay on the right side of his billionaire Russian paymaster.