EPL

Azpilicueta happy to have 'special' Lampard back at Chelsea

By Sports Desk July 11, 2019

Frank Lampard will set the right example for the Chelsea squad following his return to Stamford Bridge as head coach, according to Cesar Azpilicueta.

Lampard's Chelsea tenure began with a 1-1 draw against Bohemians in the Blues' opening pre-season game in Ireland on Wednesday.

Chelsea's record goalscorer took over as boss on July 4, following an impressive debut season in coaching at the helm of Derby County.

And Azpilicueta has hailed the impact his former team-mate has had on Chelsea's squad, acknowledging that displays under former coach Maurizio Sarri were not always up to scratch.

"It is true that last season, for periods, we didn’t give the fans what they expected," Azpilicueta said. "Our performances were not good enough.

"We turned it around and won the Europa League but you can see that this season all of the fans are very happy we have the gaffer back at the Bridge.

"Now we have to give it back by working hard on the pitch, by winning games. We are very happy to have him with us. I can’t add anything to his career at Chelsea as a player.

"But, over his first week in training, I’ve seen the way he wants to play, the way he wants us to feel the shirt, the way he wants us to train every day, it is something special."

Azpilicueta expanded on his plaudits, adding that Lampard's commitment to Chelsea during his playing career sets the perfect example for the current players to follow.

"He was here for a very long and very successful period, and always set an example: how he wanted to break every record or improve himself in every session," Azpilicueta said.

"We have to be grateful and feel the passion for the shirt. We are very excited and the only way we can carry it on is by winning together, getting the feeling back of being all together as a club.

"We have to take responsibility and know that there are a lot of things [going on] around us, but we have to work hard to get better."

Lampard's first competitive game will be against Manchester United on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, before Chelsea face Champions League winners Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup on August 14.

Related items

  • De Ligt left baffled by Manchester United's weight worries claim De Ligt left baffled by Manchester United's weight worries claim

    Matthijs de Ligt was left bemused by transfer stories circulating about him before his move to Juventus, particularly one concerning Manchester United and fears about his weight.

    The Netherlands international completed a move to Juventus on Thursday in a deal that could cost the Serie A champions €85.5million.

    De Ligt, 19, had been one of the most in-demand young players in the world following his exceptional performances as captain of Ajax, who won the Eredivisie and reached the Champions League semi-finals last season.

    He was linked with a possible move to United until a story emerged in the Daily Mirror suggesting a scout had warned the Red Devils off making a bid as De Ligt would be susceptible to gaining weight as he got older, like his father.

    De Ligt says such claims left him truly baffled, even amid the persistent speculation over where he would be playing football next season.

    "Every day, there was something new," he told Voetbal International. "Suddenly, even my father was too fat and that's why one of the clubs wouldn't want me. That makes you go, 'Come on, man...'"

    There was another rumour De Ligt turned down Paris Saint-Germain because he wanted a higher wage than Kylian Mbappe, something he previously told Algemeen Dagblad was "insane".

    "Money played no role at all in my choice for a new club," he said. "Everyone who knows me, knows that. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I will respect that, but some people were saying things like that [PSG story] very easily."

    De Ligt is the latest high-profile player to secure a big-money transfer through the hugely successful agent Mino Raiola, who counts Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marco Verratti among his clients.

    "He has a lot of experience," De Ligt said of Raiola. "I think there may be a certain negative image of him in Holland, but I certainly don't experience it that way.

    "I think if you ask all of his players if Mino does a good job for them, everyone would say yes. That's the most important thing. It's not about what other people say about him, it's about what he can do for me."

  • Knockaert joins Fulham after losing Brighton spot Knockaert joins Fulham after losing Brighton spot

    Anthony Knockaert has completed a loan move to Fulham from Brighton and Hove Albion.

    The 27-year-old has agreed a 12-month deal, with the move expected to be made permanent for an agreed undisclosed fee at the end of 2019-20.

    Brighton boss Graham Potter suggested the winger would not have been part of his plans had he stayed at the Amex.

    "The move is a good one for the club and Anthony. The wide positions are areas in which we have a lot of competition within the squad," he said via Brighton's website.

    "I've only worked with Anthony for a short period of time, but that's been a pleasure and he's been very professional and hardworking throughout pre-season. On behalf of the club, I would like to wish him well with Fulham."

    Knockaert joined from Standard Liege in January 2016 and was named the Championship Player of the Year as Brighton won promotion the following year.

    He scored two goals in 30 Premier League appearances last term as Brighton narrowly avoided relegation.

    "It feels amazing to be here. I feel really welcome already. It just feels great to get this done and for me to be a Fulham player," he said.

    "The goal is to get back to the Premier League where Fulham belongs. I have come here with the clear intention to get promoted and I want to help in any way that I can."

  • Pochettino preaches patience despite Ndombele's impressive debut Pochettino preaches patience despite Ndombele's impressive debut

    Mauricio Pochettino has urged Tottenham supporters to be patient with record signing Tanguy Ndombele despite his impressive debut against Juventus on Sunday.

    The France international joined the club earlier this month in a deal worth £62.8million (€70m), eclipsing the £42m spent on Davinson Sanchez in 2017.

    Ndombele was introduced for Erik Lamela shortly after the hour mark in the International Champions Cup clash in Singapore and made an immediate impact.

    He teed up Lucas Moura for an equaliser within just a minute, which set the scene for Harry Kane to score a spectacular stoppage-time goal from the halfway line to seal a 3-2 win.

    Pochettino was impressed by the 22-year-old's contribution but was quick to manage fans' expectations.

    "Ndombele is a player that has the capacity to do what he did today," he told a media conference. "But still it's too far away in his adaptation. It's only been one week with us.

    "Today he played more than I expected because our plan was to play him for only 15 minutes, but with the tempo in the second half it was good to give him 30 minutes.

    "We are happy with him but still we don't expect too much. We know his talent and what he can add to the team but it's step by step and we will try not to put too much pressure on him.

    "Everything is new for him but I think with the first touch of the ball he started to show his quality. It was amazing and you can see when he runs something can happen.

    "He has the capacity to add to the team different things and I hope during the season he can help the team achieve all that they want."

    The game was played at a more frenetic pace than Pochettino would normally like at this stage of pre-season, but he acknowledges that it will have done wonders for his players' fitness levels.

    "I think they're very good games, very competitive," he added. "To be honest, we are very sure in our preparation. This has always been a period that we used to play friendlies against League Two sides or games in our training ground.

    "But we are a team that is happy with how things have gone and our intention is to arrive in the best shape for the first game of the Premier League.

    "Of course, we are happy because the atmosphere when you beat a team like Juventus is fantastic. The result, though, is not important; it's about the performance and how we are doing in our fitness. That is our priority for the rest of pre-season."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.