Frank Lampard has moved to highlight his admiration for Chelsea midfielder Jorginho and says he will bring essential qualities to the team this season.
Jorginho was booed at Stamford Bridge on numerous occasions last season as debate reigned whether he was favoured by Maurizio Sarri, who struggled to win over Blues fans.
The £57 million (€65m/$86m) signing from Napoli was also thought to be hampering N’Golo Kante’s performances, as Sarri pushed him higher up the field. However, Lampard lined up in a similar shape to the one Sarri used last season against Liverpool.
Many thought Lampard might instruct the Blues to sell the Italy international. The 41-year-old says he was delighted to hear Jorginho pledge allegiance to his club and deny that he is only a Sarri player.
“I thought Jorginho was fantastic the other night,” Lampard told reporters. “He was constantly talking to people around him and constantly talking to the backline to drag them up and playing with quality.
“The players are the ones who drive that when they get out there. He is a fantastic player. I saw that on the first day of training in Dublin. Talking about his attitude, he is a driver of the group and he has real quality. I am fortunate in midfield at the moment.
“It gives us problems in terms of competition between Kante, Jorginho, [Matteo] Kovacic, [Ross] Barkley, [Mason] Mount, Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] is coming back and others. But Jorginho has really shown himself to be a top-quality player to me already. I am pleased to see his comments. He should be seen as Chelsea’s Jorginho.
“As a player, you know that you go and work for the club. He has a real passion for football and performance. I love that.”
Lampard is still searching for his first win as Blues boss after losing his first two games to Manchester United and Liverpool, albeit only losing the Super Cup final on Wednesday in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw over 120 minutes in Istanbul.
With 211 goals and 11 major honours in a Blues shirt, Lampard will receive a hero’s welcome in his first game as manager back at Stamford Bridge. The career switch came last season as Lampard got his first job as a manager at Derby County in the Championship.
The 41-year-old is now back to his old club after replacing Sarri and he is now under increased scrutiny from pundits, including Lampard’s former mentor Jose Mourinho, who was on Sky Sports offering his opinion of Lampard’s 4-0 loss to Manchester United.
The new Blues boss expected such situations to arise and admits he blocks out what others say, even when they are managers of Mourinho’s stature.
“I was very ready for that,” Lampard said. “Being a player who played here, we were always as competitive for leagues and Champions Leagues as we could be. You feel the level there as a player, the level of attention and criticism on your performance.
“As a manager, of course, it is inflated because you take on more responsibility. I wasn’t surprised by it. You have to be ready for it. You have to be ready to answer questions. You have to be ready to know what you are feeling.”
He continued: “My first feeling is, can I protect my players? Can I protect my club? Can I protect myself? Because I know we are working with the right intention and in the right direction. I know you have to pick and choose your battles.
“As I say, your eye should never come off what we do here every day as the important thing. What somebody says, or people say around it, is not the important thing. If you get caught up in that, then you will have many sleepless nights over things that are not important about where you want to get to.”