FRANK LAMPARD claimed he “learned one million things,” in his debut season as Chelsea boss – on the day he banked a £50million Champions’ League bonus for the Stamford Bridge club.
Premier newcomer Lamps was thought by many to have bitten off more than he could chew when he arrived from Derby County last summer to take charge of a Chelsea squad serving a transfer ban which barred him from replacing star performer Eden Hazard.
However, yesterday’s 2-0 win over Wolves secured fourth place and opened the vault to the most prestigious competition in European football, with an FA Cup final against Arsenal still to come at Wembley on Saturday.
Yet instead of lapping up the acclaim, Lampard heaped praise on his makeshift squad and said: “I’m very pleased.
“But I won’t start singing my own praises because it’s the players that produce.
“I’m proud – but I always put small brackets around that – because it’s Chelsea and we want to be challenging for league titles but we’re not in that position right now.
“I knew that at the start of the year and I knew we were competing – not just against Liverpool and City – but against Man United, Wolves and Tottenham and Arsenal who spent north of £100million, so it was always going to be tough for us.
“But the lads have competed. We’ve been inconsistent at times, we’ll be honest and humble about that, because we need to be humble going forward.
“But tonight we can be happy at what we’ve achieved.”
A quickfire two-goal blast in first-half stoppage time from Mason Mount and Olivier Giroud was enough to earn all three points and seal fourth place for Lampard’s Blues, who were watched by new £54million recruit Timo Werner.
“The year I had at Derby showed me this was definitely the role I wanted to be in
Lamps added: “Hopefully he’s seen we have talent in the squad, a real resilience and a strong unity within the group.
“Now he can bring his talents and add to that.
“Hopefully, it was a nice first viewing for him and we’ll look forward to seeing him next season.”
Lampard took the difficult decision to drop world record £76.1m goalie Kepa and replace him with Willy Caballero but the move paid off with a rare Stamford Bridge clean sheet.
My desire to do well is so big and I can’t stop wanting us to get better and better so maybe I’ve been too critical of myself at times
It was one of many difficult calls he has made in his rookie year as a Premier boss – and the Chelsea boss says he will be better for the experience next season.
Lampard said: “The year I had at Derby showed me this was definitely the role I wanted to be in.
“When I had my year off football and worked in the media it didn’t grab me enough.
“It was a nice job and I enjoyed parts of it but I wanted back to football.
“When I got the job at Chelsea the step up was huge and the demands to win week-in, week-out have been tough.
“My desire to do well is so big and I can’t stop wanting us to get better and better so maybe I’ve been too critical of myself at times.
“I’ve learned a million things and I’m humble enough to know if there are things I can improve on I will try and do that, because I want success for this club.”