‘It was a game that showed me really good things about us and things we needed to improve. I was never going to look past the lessons it gave us as a team but I also felt a real confidence in the work we’d done over pre-season to get us to a point where we could go there with a personality.’
Over a year and 42 league games later, Lampard’s Chelsea return to Manchester with a fresh look, boosted by the arrival of six new faces this summer. The evolving group might need time to gel and click, just as they did last year before finishing fourth and reaching the FA Cup final, but the head coach has a clear picture of the team he wants them to become.
‘Last season was very positive for us because we had an identity as a team that worked very hard off the ball, created a lot of chances, tried to get higher up the pitch and made a lot of steps forward, while also knowing we needed to go further,’ he explained.