by NICK CALLOW
FRANK LAMPARD said he could not afford to worry about the actions of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich or the club’s board after another defeat increased the pressure on his future as the club’s manager.
An emphatic 3-1 defeat by supposed close rivals Manchester City was his fourth loss in six league games and they are down to eighth in the Premier League table.
The talk at Stamford Bridge on Sunday night was that the club’s hierarchy are looking at alternatives, but Lampard insisted: “I am not concerned.
“I expected periods of difficulty even when people were talking about us as title contenders when we had a 16-game unbeaten run before this period of results.
“A month ago people were asking me about getting a new contract. Now there are different questions as I have lost four games over football in a quick period. I was aware of that when I took the job and my job is to get the players to the levels we want.
“Some players showed a confidence issue when City went ahead but reacted well in the second half as a team. We are having a tough little time and City took advantage of that.
“I will always feel the heat. I felt the heat when we were on our good run because I know that around the corner can be the negative and as I said before, we are not a team that has been churning out results and has got to the level of Liverpool or City or to teams that won things in previous years of the Abramovich era.
“I am not going to speak for people above me because I can never do that. That’s why I could answer a month ago about me getting a new contract, I can’t answer what they’re thinking about now but it is what it is.
“I can only speak about it as I see it and when I look at City today, for the first 45 minutes I can see the level of the players, the level of work.”
Lampard, 42, was one Chelsea’s greatest ever goalscoring midfielders, winning three Premier League titles, a Champions League trophy, and 106 caps for England.
He took the side to fourth in the table in his first season in charge and was handed over €200m in the summer transfer market to further strengthen his side’s chances of landing the title in this, his second season.
He added: “I had tough periods last year too. We had three games here when we lost and they felt very tough and rough.
“I am a perfectionist. I want the best for this club and I felt pressure last season even though we finished fourth with a transfer ban.”
Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, emerged triumphant from his own problems of having six players ruled out by Covid-19 and pre-match revelations defender Benjamin Mendy, who was selected as a substitute, had hosted a New Year’s Eve gathering against government guidelines.
City are now only four points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand but have fitness and illness issues to contend with.
Guardiola said: “Ben is part of the group and one of the good guys. He broke the rules and he cannot do it but does not mean society can make an example of him.
“I have told the players so many times to follow the rules and he knows he has made a big mistake. But it has finished here and he will learn.”
He is was happier about his team’s brilliant performance. He added: “The way we won leagues and titles and other things is the way we played today. The tempo we have missed in the past, today we recovered it.
“But we have only 14 to 15 fit first-team players so we have to have a full squad to compete in all of the competitions. We have players to help solve the situations but it will be more difficult.”