Frank Lampard has labelled his time in charge of Chelsea as ‘incredible’ despite being brutally axed by the club after just 18 months.
Club legend Lampard was dismissed in January with his team lying in ninth, and five points off the Champions League spots, and quickly replaced by Thomas Tuchel – which led to plenty of backlash from Chelsea fans.
But, speaking for the first time since leaving, Lampard chose to look back fondly on his tenure – and admitted the atmosphere at games lost its edge without crowds.
‘I’m absolutely appreciative of the opportunity I had to manage Chelsea,’ he said in the exclusive Q&A in aid of the Willow Foundation, a charity which enables seriously ill young adults to experience unforgettable moments.
‘It was an incredible time. Everyone knows how I felt about the club.’
Chelsea insisted in the statement announcing the exit that the results and performances on show from Lampard’s team had ‘not met the club’s expectations’.
There was also thinly-veiled criticism from the hierarchy that there was no ‘clear path to sustained improvement’.
It was a run of five defeats in eight league matches that saw Lampard forced out, although Roman Abramovich surprisingly chose to address the sacking publicly.
Chelsea’s owner described the former midfielder as a ‘man of great integrity’ – and Lampard has lived up to this billing by refusing to bitterly lash out since.
Having steered the club to a fourth-placed finish last term, and also into the FA Cup final, the initial signs were promising under the 42-year-old’s stewardship.
However, despite splashing out £230million on new talent, Chelsea slipped down the table – and Lampard’s fate was consequently sealed in late January.
A large portion of his reign was marred by the absence of support in grounds due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, Lampard was shown the exit door, following the FA Cup win over Luton, without the opportunity to show appreciation to the fanbase one last time.
He added: ‘From the restart onwards, to the time I left, to not have fans… I absolutely missed them.
‘I knew as a player what it meant to me and I knew the effect it has on games. It all felt like the edge was taken off.’
It has now emerged, however, that crowds will slowly be allowed to filter back into venues due to the promising vaccination rollout.
England’s group fixtures at Wembley for Euro 2020 this summer will have 22,500 spectators present, the FA have told UEFA.
Lampard also admitted that playing without supporters felt like the edge was taken off fixtures
There is also said to be a hope that this amount will double to 45,000 for the semi-finals and final.
‘When I read the headline about fans being back, it’s so exciting,’ Lampard said. ‘Yeah, cannot wait for that.’
As part of the Q&A with the London Football Awards, Lampard also revealed that he has rejected several management offers.
‘Football has consumed my life, firstly as a player and then as a manager,’ he said.
It has also been revealed by Lampard that he has rejected several ‘flattering’ coaching roles
‘Nobody wants to lose their job. But when you go into this career, it can happen, no matter how good you think you are.
‘It’s given me a lot more time to be at home. It’s been great to be around the family.
‘I’ve had some opportunities that have come up in the last six weeks, two months, that have been flattering, but not the right thing. They were not quite right.’
Lampard is reportedly being considered an option by the FA to take over the England Under-21 job with Aidy Boothroyd once again heavily savaged.