Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has insisted that he will keep fighting for the club despite the 3-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday’s Premier League game.
The Blues were top of the Premier League at the start of December following a 3-1 victory over Leeds, but now sit eight points off Liverpool following a run of four defeats in their last six games.
Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne all struck in the first half as City shook off a clutch of positive coronavirus cases and Benjamin Mendy’s breach of social-distancing protocols to stun the Blues with three first-half goals inside the first 35 minutes in west London. Lampard was asked afterwards if he was beginning to feel the pressure.
The Chelsea boss said: “I had tough periods last year, and maybe I had some mitigating circumstances where people didn’t view those home defeats here in the same way. To me they felt tough and rough as I am a perfectionist for this club and the first person to put pressure on myself is me, so I felt the pressure here last year.
“I wanted to push and finish even better than fourth, even though I feel it was a big achievement given the ban and the youth in the squad. We cruised through the Champions League group and went on a 16-game unbeaten run, which was something I always tried to temper as it went on. I played here for a long time so I understand the club, and if you lose four games in a period of time then people will ask questions.
“The expectations are different this year, as people are talking about how much money we spent. We’ve spent a lot of money but the reality is the players are young and have not played together.
“It’s the first time we’ve been able to play Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner in the same team… and if we’re expecting the relationship between the three players to be the same as Silva, De Bruyne and Sterling today then those expectations aren’t real.
“I’m the man who has to be real and I was real after the Leeds win when I felt we weren’t title contenders. I’m real now when I say any rebuild takes pain, and I speak for other managers.
“I remember Pep Guardiola went through it in his first year at City, and now we know their story. You only build through fight and character.
“We know the stories of City and Liverpool and I’m not comparing myself to them. I can only talk about us, and the first half showed us why this is a difficult period for Chelsea. We have to keep fighting and I’m the first one who has to keep fighting.”
Chelsea have three points fewer after 17 games than they did last season, whilst in the Premier League era, the Blues have never finished higher than sixth when amassing a maximum of 26 points at this stage of a campaign.
The Blues have suffered as many defeats in their last six Premier League games as they did in the 23 matches beforehand, but Lampard says he is not concerned for his position as his side look to bounce back in the west London derby against Fulham a week on Friday.
“I’ll always feel the heat,” he added. “I felt the heat when we were on our good run as I knew that round the corner could’ve been the negative. We’re striving to get to the level of the teams that won things here during the Roman Abramovich era.
“We’re not at that stage yet. If you take N’Golo Kante and Thiago out, there’s a lot of youth and new players in the team who are trying to settle and take things on board. I can’t speak for those on the board. I can’t answer what they’re thinking about the difficult run of results like I couldn’t answer for them when there was talk about a new contract a month ago.
“There’s never going to be an absolute trajectory that was going to be up and up and up. I saw flaws in my team even during the 16-game run. I can’t think of what the board are thinking as it would just distract me, so I can’t do it.”