Xenia Sports – London
Frank Lampard rates Carlo Ancelotti’s greatest managerial strength as his ability to harmonise “difficult” squads.
Current Chelsea boss Lampard will pit his wits against his old Blues manager Ancelotti when the west Londoners face Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday night.
Italian coaching great Ancelotti steered Chelsea to the 2010 Premier League title, with Lampard racking up 22 goals and 14 assists.
And now, after getting a taste of the managerial experience, Lampard admitted he has a new understanding of Ancelotti’s talents, that had a packed Chelsea squad singing from the same hymn sheet.
“I remember the season very well out of a lot of my seasons because it was a season I didn’t start very well,” said Lampard. “And Carlo came in and played a diamond formation, and I played at the top of it.
“I was finding it very difficult to get my games fluid, I wanted to improve my chances to arrive in the box.
“I went quite a few games without a goal, and I remember having a really honest conversation with Carlo and he was very open with how he dealt with it with me.
“And I was really, really impressed – not just because it meant my position changed slightly and I managed to start playing better – but just how he handled that for me, which was a tough period for me.
“And from then on the season just went from strength to strength, for the whole team. He got a tune out of the whole team.
“It was a very good squad, a very strong, but maybe a difficult squad and overloaded in some areas.
“And now in this job I really understand that you have to try to find balance in a squad, and he found a perfect balance that year in that run-in, so he should take a lot of credit for that.”
Everton won their first four Premier League matches under Ancelotti this term, but have claimed just one victory since.
Chelsea will head to Merseyside looking to extend their own run of nine league matches without defeat.
Lampard revealed he continues to respect and admire Ancelotti’s candid coaching, and his relaxed but focused approach.
“He had a very laid-back demeanour about him, which I appreciated,” said Lampard.
“But underneath that was a hard edge, that was very evident.
“I certainly enjoyed his general laid-back demeanour with me.
“I wasn’t a player who craved too much conversation with my manager, I just wanted to do my job.
“But with him I always felt comfortable when I was having those one-to-one conversations.
“I’ve got really specific moments with my time with him that I remember, one was the evening that he left the club and he actually came and had a couple of beers with us in The Plough over the road at Cobham.
“And another time when I was playing in America with Andrea Pirlo, and we were in Vancouver and we had dinner together in an Italian restaurant, and it was just a fantastic evening.
“So I just have a high regard for him, and the personal touch.
“The great thing with it is that it’s very straight, very honest, everything he does, which is really refreshing.”