“It’s a cup that the club desperately wants to win,” Chelsea's new boss tells UEFA.com as he looks ahead to the Istanbul showcase.
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Frank Lampard's first European game in charge of Chelsea will be the UEFA Super Cup encounter with Liverpool, and the 41-year-old is determined to set the right tone in Istanbul.
The former midfielder wants to see his side play with the same kind of intensity as the Chelsea side that he helped to win the 2012 UEFA Champions League and 2013 UEFA Europa League finals, and is determined to win the UEFA Super Cup having missed out twice in finals as a player.
You were on the losing side with Chelsea in the 2012 and 2013 UEFA Super Cups; has that given you any lessons to take to this season’s game?
[After we won the UEFA Champions League in 2012] we felt like we were the big boys and we were absolutely shocked and stunned [when we lost 4-1 against Atlético in the UEFA Super Cup] which was a terrible game for us. Bayern [a 2-2 draw in 2013] was different, completely different; we put in a really good performance, could’ve won the game; they scored in the last moments, and then we lost in penalties. So I've had two great examples of a really important game that you don't win in two different ways, and it makes you more determined to win it.
We need to be absolutely ready. It's a cup that the club desperately wants to win. I've never won it; a lot of players in there have never won it, so we have to give it everything. Going up against the team with the quality of Liverpool in a final is as tense as finals can be. You can lose finals; they're very tough. But what you cannot do is lose it on the premise that we weren’t prepared, or we didn’t have that hunger or desire or everything you need to try and win a game of this magnitude.
It’s going to be one of my first competitive games as manager of this club. Every player in there needs to be aware of the importance of the game to this club and we have to give everything, because it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be tough, but we cannot walk off the pitch and think "oh, we could’ve done that" or "we missed that opportunity" or "we weren't quite ready" or make any excuses for ourselves.
Does the prospect of coaching in the UEFA Champions League this season bring back fond memories?
I remember the first Champions League games I played in; it would have been early to mid-2000s with Claudio Ranieri. I remember a game against Lazio that we played at home, we won 2-1, I think, and the actual shivers of hearing the music, in the line-up before the game, and I thought: 'Wow! This is the thing, this is the real deal!'
I had lots of ups and downs. We tried and fought to get to finals; we lost one [against United in 2008], and then the culmination of that, to win at Munich [against Bayern in 2012] as underdogs in their home stadium – it was the stuff of movies. When anyone asks me about my career, I cannot help but have that as the moment that jumps out at me. If I'd have finished my career without that on my CV, then I would have certainly felt incomplete. To win the Champions League as Chelsea, the first London club to do so, is something that we’re all proud of at this club, and it gives me the determination to take on the Champions League again, as a manager.
What was your favourite moment in the competition?
The moment that Didier Drogba's penalty hit the back of the net in Munich. I didn't enjoy the game; I didn't enjoy it at all. It was painful trying to hang on in there, and trying to get the game to penalties in the end, but the moment that the ball hit the back of the net was sensational.
My best Champions League goal was against Bayern [in 2005], at home. It was the second goal I’d scored in the game; it was a chest and a left-footed volley on the turn, a half volley, past Oliver Kahn. I've scored a few, but that's the one that was probably the one I couldn’t do if I were asked one thousand times to do it again, especially at my age now.
Who was the best player you faced in the UEFA Champions League?
Can I give you two answers? It'll actually be three. The first one is [Lionel] Messi because he was the most incredible player – it was like you were playing against someone who's not on the same level as all of us. The two players I always remember having the hardest time against were Xavi [Hernández] and [Andrés] Iniesta at Barcelona. They just played football around you, and you didn't get near them. It was football that wasn't normal to me; it was different from anything else I came up against.
How would you like your Chelsea team to play?
What I certainly want to be is a team that are quite fluid and adaptable in the way that we play. I don't want to be stuck into one idea, one vision, one plan – I want the players to be adaptable, so that as we move forward, we can evolve. It might be daily, it might be weekly; it might be with formations, it might be with mindset. I want to be very open to that, and I want my players to be open to that.
Intensity is everything for me. In a daily sense, how we train will be how we play. And intensity is many things. It's not just physical, it's also mental; it's how you approach every day and every game. I had those times at Chelsea when I felt that when we were on it. We were competitive with each other daily; we would shout or lift someone up if they were training at a level that wasn't good enough – that's when we were at our best. So it should be. If you're doing that daily, if you're a group together, if you're pushing each other on, that's what brings a successful team.
How would you sum up your relationship with Chelsea?
It is a defining thing in my life, because I took Chelsea home with me the minute I joined the club. When I look back, I'm delighted at what I managed to achieve, or what we did as a group, except for that we should have won more Premier League titles. I feel for this club deeply. Hence why I want to do so well here. Of course I want to do well for myself, I want to improve myself but at the same time I want this club to be where it belongs.