EPL

He’s our player – Frank Lampard defends Carney Chukwuemeka decision

By Sports Desk May 20, 2023

Frank Lampard has defended Chelsea’s decision not to allow Carney Chukwuemeka to join the England Under-20 squad for the World Cup in Argentina.

The 19-year-old is one of two players from the club to have been withheld from manager Ian Foster’s selection, with midfielder Lewis Hall also told he must stay for the remainder of the season.

Hall started as Chelsea drew with Nottingham Forest last weekend and Lampard has indicated he will play a part in his side’s remaining three matches, but Chukwuemeka has started only twice since December and has not been in the matchday squad for any of the last eight games.

Lampard said that owing to injuries the club deemed it necessary to keep the former Aston Villa player, who arrived at Stamford Bridge in a £20million deal last summer, available for the remainder of the season.

“He’s a Chelsea player and we’ve got injuries in that area,” said Lampard. “The situation with Carney is that he’s come into a club, it was a big move for him, and this season he hasn’t managed to get so many minutes. He’s settling in at a new club.

“Hopefully there’s opportunity in these three games for him and also he’s our player, and whilst we have lost players we need him to stay.

“There’s a possibility he can join up at the end of the season if the team gets through to the next stages. That might be the best of the both worlds in an ideal way.

“But he’s our player and we had to make the decision. Carney was keen to go, but at the same time what happened meant he had to stay.”

Chelsea take on the newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday in what will be Pep Guardiola’s side’s first match since retaining the crown they have won in each of the previous two seasons. 

Their third straight title triumph was confirmed by Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

It is Guardiola’s fifth title since arriving in England in 2016 and his personal record could be further gilded in June if City add the FA Cup and Champions League to land the treble.

Lampard, who has lost six of his eight games in interim charge of Chelsea since being appointed in early April, was asked about the frustrations of struggling to replicate his success as a player since taking up management. 

“As a manager everyone’s situations are different,” said Lampard. “What club you work at, what is a version of success at the club that you work at.

“Knowing Pep a little bit and having watched him work for a couple of days when I’d finished playing, it’s clear that he’s got an incredible football brain and an amazing work ethic. I think if I can try and follow that in my own way, that’s the best I can do, that’s the way to do it.

“It’s not that hard, you just understand that going to Everton, trying to keep them in the league, it’s a compromise. You have to come and train and play different ways to get a result, which we did.

“When I had my first year at Chelsea and I came in and we had a young squad that were really willing to learn, to try and do the things wanted them to do, I think we got a really exciting team. 

“Everyone’s journey in management is different, because what you’re working with dictates sometimes in terms of how you might have to compromise. When you’re a player you just focus on yourself. As a manager you have to work around many more different variables.”

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    New Manchester United co-owner Ratcliffe recently spoke of his ambition to knock neighbours City, and another of their rivals in Liverpool, “off their perch”.

    Yet in doing so he conceded United had fallen well behind both of those clubs and admitted much could be learned from their success.

    He even went as far as to say City’s 4-0 demolition of Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League semi-finals was “the best quality of football I’ve ever seen”.

    Guardiola says such compliments are a source of pride and feed his continuing desire for success.

    The City manager, whose side host United on Sunday, said: “I just say thank you so much.

    “Sometimes they are more than the titles, the compliments of the personalities that make this country, like Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s comments. It is a complete honour for us.

    “One can produce emotions and feelings for the players and our rivals. That helps to do our job. Thank you so much on behalf of all of us.

    “But I am sure tomorrow they will try, one way or another, to inoculate the Man Utd players with the best performance to try to beat us.”

    This weekend’s derby could be a key encounter for champions City in their bid to win a fourth successive Premier League title.

    Considering their recent superiority over their neighbours, and United’s inconsistency this season, City are expected to come out on top but Guardiola is wary of the pitfalls of the fixture.

    He said: “Do you remember when United went to Anfield this season? Last season it was 7-0.

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    “In different situations, with City in the position of United, I know my players would behave at Old Trafford with pride and the best character. It is going to happen to United on Sunday.

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