Frank Lampard returns to Chelsea as head coach

Frank Lampard spent 13 years and became Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer with 211 goals. (AFP)
Updated 04 July 2019

Frank Lampard returns to Chelsea as head coach

  • Frank Lampard signs three-year contract with the Premier League club
  • Lampard spent 13 years and became Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer with 211 goals

LONDON: Frank Lampard was appointed Chelsea head coach on Thursday, confirming a dramatic return for one of the club’s greatest ever players.
Lampard has signed a three-year contract with the Premier League club, where he spent 13 years and became the team’s all-time leading scorer with 211 goals.
The former England midfielder succeeds Maurizio Sarri after just one season in management, having led Derby County to the Championship play-off final in May, when they were beaten by Aston Villa.
“I am immensely proud to be returning to Chelsea as head coach,” Lampard said in a club statement.
“Everyone knows my love for this club and the history we have shared, however, my sole focus is on the job in hand and preparing for the season ahead.
“I am here to work hard, bring further success to the club and I cannot wait to get started.”
Lampard made 648 appearances for Chelsea, winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups, as well as the Europa League and the Champions League.
Chelsea said Lampard had a “fantastic relationship” with the club’s supporters and he will certainly lift the mood after a fractious season under Sarri.
Despite finishing third in the Premier League and winning the Europa League, Sarri was criticized for his eccentric approach and rigid style of play.
“Frank possesses fantastic knowledge and understanding of the club and last season, he demonstrated he is one of the most talented young coaches in the game,” said Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia.
“After 13 years with us as a player, where he became a club legend and our record goalscorer, we believe this is the perfect time for him to return and are delighted he has done so.
“We will do everything we can to ensure he has all the support required to be a huge success.”
Derby granted Chelsea permission to speak to Lampard after reportedly agreeing a compensation package of around $5 million (£4 million) to release him from the remaining two years on his contract with the Championship club.
Chelsea are unlikely to be able to make any new signings this summer as they are serving a two-window transfer ban from FIFA.
And their best player of recent times has also departed after Eden Hazard completed a €100 million ($114 million) move to Real Madrid.
Lampard is therefore expected to oversee a sea change in Chelsea’s policy, concentrated on giving more opportunities to products from the club’s youth academy.
His assistant Jody Morris has extensive knowledge of the Chelsea youth system having been a key figure at the club’s academy prior to joining Lampard at Derby last summer.
However, they face a baptism of fire with their first two competitive games in charge featuring a trip to Manchester United on the opening weekend of the Premier League season followed by the UEFA Super Cup against European champions Liverpool.


Djokovic not worried about blisters ahead of US Open

Updated 25 August 2019

Djokovic not worried about blisters ahead of US Open

  • When the year's last Grand Slam tournament begins Monday, Djokovic will be in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the afternoon session, facing Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain

NEW YORK: During a break in practice two days before opening his US Open title defense, Novak Djokovic pulled off his blue shoe and white sock so a trainer could look at his right foot.

Did it again a little while later.

And then, toward the end of Saturday’s training session in Louis Armstrong Stadium with 2014 runner-up Kei Nishikori, Djokovic stopped a sprint and pulled up short of a ball, raised his right leg off the ground entirely and hopped repeatedly on his left, wincing. Nothing to worry about, Djokovic said later at his pre-tournament news conference: Just blisters.

“A minor thing,” Djokovic called it. “Like anybody has ... Nothing major that is causing a concern for the event.”

When the year's last Grand Slam tournament begins Monday, Djokovic will be in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the afternoon session, facing Roberto Carballes Baena, a 26-year-old from Spain whose career-best ranking was 72nd.

Carballes Baena has an overall career record of 43-50. That includes 2-7 at major tournaments, 1-1 at Flushing Meadows, where he made his debut a year ago and lost in the second round.

Djokovic, meanwhile, has won 33 of his past 34 Grand Slam matches en route to collecting four of the past five major titles. That allowed the 32-year-old Serb to raise his career haul to 16 trophies, putting him just two away from second-place Rafael Nadal’s total of 18, and Roger Federer’s 20, which is the record for men.

He’s not shy about trying to catch those guys.

“More or less everything is about Grand Slams, in terms of how I see tennis and how I approach it, because they matter the most,” Djokovic said. “So I will definitely try to play my best tennis — and aim to play my best tennis — at these events.”

And while many would attribute Djokovic's success to his ability to return serves, say, or his mental strength and propensity for coming up big in the biggest moments — such as saving two match points along the way to edging Federer in a fifth-set tiebreaker in the Wimbledon final last month — there's something else the man himself would point to as his most vital quality.

That's the way Djokovic can cover a court, which is why the state of that right foot is actually a rather big deal.

His movement, Djokovic said Saturday, is "the base of everything" and "the most important thing."

"It just allows you to be more in balance. And at the end of the day, that is what you're looking for as a tennis player," he explained. "How can you hit the ball, being in the right balance, so you can penetrate the ball with the right speed, accuracy and precision?"

Watch Djokovic during a match, and you'll see him change direction in a heartbeat, twist and turn, contort his limbs, slide — on clay, on grass, even on hard courts — always getting to the right spot at the right time.

He attributes his strength in that area to the flexibility of his ankles and is grateful he used to participate in another sport while growing up back home in Serbia.

"I credit my childhood spent on the skis. I used to spend a lot of time skiing," Djokovic said. "That had an effect as well, with kind of coordination and changing movement from one side to another. Even though they're different sports, in essence, you're using some major muscle groups and joints and stuff like this in most of the sports."

It is Djokovic's right elbow that gave him the most trouble a couple of seasons ago.

He missed the last half of 2017, including that year's US Open because that arm was bothering him, then wound up having surgery in February 2018. It took some time for Djokovic to get going after that. All's good these days, though.

"Novak had a couple years where he didn't seem like the same guy," ESPN's John McEnroe said. "Now he's back with a vengeance."

Only 1½ months have passed since Djokovic edged Federer in that classic title match at the All England Club.

Not a lot of time to savor the victory. Not a lot of time to rest a weary body.

"This sport can be a little bit 'cruel,'" Djokovic said, using fingers to indicate air quotes, "when it comes to, I guess, marveling or celebrating your own success. You don't have that much luxury of time to really reflect on everything because the season keeps going."