Frank Lampard insisted he does not feel his job is under threat after an insipid performance in a 3-1 home defeat by Manchester City left him under mounting pressure with Chelsea in eighth place.
Pep Guardiola’s side scored thrice before half-time without reply and will move to within a point of the leaders, Liverpool, if they win their game in hand. But Chelsea are way adrift in the title race after a fourth defeat in six matches, despite spending more than £200m in the summer.
“I expected periods of difficulties this year because it doesn’t come that easily,” Lampard said. “Whether that puts pressure on me is regardless because a month ago everyone was asking whether I will be signing a new contract. In quick succession over a tight and busy period we have lost four games of football so the pressure remains constant in this job. My job is to try and lift the players so they can match the levels that Manchester City showed today.”
Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, has been swift to sack managers in the past, not least when he feels Champions League qualification may be in danger. The club are three points off fourth place but have played at least a game more than all but one of the sides above them.
Chelsea went unbeaten for 14 matches earlier in the season but Lampard said his team were a work in progress compared with Guardiola’s.
“When City turned up the heat in the first half, our players didn’t react for the goal,” he said. “I think that is a confidence issue but this is the level we want to get to.
“We’re in a tough period at the moment – I played here for a long time so I understand that the minute you lose a few games in a short period of time, then everyone asks questions. The expectations are different this year because we spent a lot of money but this club has to take some pain to get where we want to get to … I’ll always feel heat. I felt heat when we were on our good run, because I know that round the corner can be a negative.”
City face Manchester United in a Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday and Guardiola is delighted with their recent resurgence. “The way we won leagues and titles and other things is the way we played today,” he said. “The tempo we have missed in the past, today we recovered it.”