Scottish Daily Mail
HEAT IS ON YOU
Mourinho taunts Lampard before derby showdown
ONE thousand matches into the Chelsea revolution u n d e r Roman Abramovich and, right on cue, Jose Mourinho is back on the scene at Stamford Bridge.
Last time he was involved in a landmark on this scale in SW6, he was in the blue corner demolishing Arsene Wenger’s 1,000th game in charge of Arsenal and how he enjoyed that one.
Mourinho celebrated Chelsea’s sixth goal in a 6-0 win as if it was the first, such was the ferocity of his relationship with Wenger.
Tomorrow he arrives for another London derby with his Tottenham side hinting at a title challenge and signs of nascent rivalry developing with Chelsea’s head coach Frank Lampard.
Mourinho likes to engage with his rivals and yesterday he launched the mind games with his former player by insisting the title pressure should be on big-spenders such as Chelsea and not on him at Tottenham.
The man who had two spells with Abramovich and jobs at Manchester United, Real Madrid and Inter Milan, said: ‘When you are favourites you know why you are favourites. You must accept that and you must deal with that pressure and responsibility.
‘I was at clubs which were, let’s say, “champions in the market” because of powerful investment. I had to deal with that pressure. So now it’s not for me to deal with it.
‘When I was at these clubs, there was huge pressure on me. Now there is not huge pressure on the coaches of these teams. Put a little bit of pressure on them.’
Chelsea became the first English side to spend £230million in one transfer window this year, an outlay that followed a transfer ban and the sale of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid in a deal worth up to £150m.
Lampard responded to Mourinho by saying: ‘If you look at the spending over the last couple of seasons, what Tottenham did in the summer and what they’ve done in this break, compared to us, you will see it has been a very similar output.
‘The only thing that will get you success i s hard work. The pressures are huge anyway. The pressures at Tottenham will be big, because Jose built a fantastic s quad and has i ncredible players.
‘It’s very comparable if you look at the spending for sure, since I have been at Chelsea.’
This pair were once good for each other. Mourinho convinced Lampard he could conquer the world by ti ming runs f rom midfield and Lampard responded with goals to help cl i nch Mourinho’s first Premier League title in 2005.
Yet it is notable how Lampard has resisted the urge to gush about Mourinho’s influence since moving into management.
‘ Generally, when you go in different directions, you are so busy that relationships change, so it changed,’ he said yesterday. ‘We were always very cordial — if I see Jose, if I talk about him, if we send messages between each other. We have always had a good relationship on that front.
‘Naturally, now, when we are in the cut-throat end of things in these clubs that are rivals, it does change a relationship. But not in a bad way. We’ve got no problem with i t. I certainly haven’t.
‘We are very competitive people. We both want to do well. When I speak about Jose, I always show how much respect I have for him in all senses. I have always got that back from him.’
The relationship shifted when Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge in 2013.
Lampard’s contract was not renewed, a year later, and, at almost 36, he joined New York City, one of Manchester City’s global network of clubs before quickly moving on loan to the
Etihad Stadium, and scoring an equaliser against Mourinho’s team as the Chelsea fans sang his name.
As a manager, Lampard has a good record against the Portuguese and has been confident enough to engage in t he i nevitable off- t he - f i el d squabbles. He hit back when Mourinho claimed he was cloning Antonio Conte’s back-three system ahead of the fiery clash at White Hart Lane when Heung-min Son was sent off and Antonio Rudiger heard racist abuse in the stands.
They also bickered i n the technical area, in the Carabao Cup in September, when Mourinho told Lampard to sit down when his team were winning and stand up when they needed him.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of needle and Lampard does not lack competitive courage. He confronted every challenge as a player and looks determined to do the same in his new career. So far, so good. His first season at Chelsea must be deemed a success. Failure to win a trophy rarely goes down well with Abramovich but, after a summer when Hazard was sold in the midst of a transfer ban, he qualified f or the Champions League and nurtured talent from the academy.
At this early stage of his second season, there are further positive signs with his summer signings settling into a system without losing the young players who helped restore the club’s identity.
Mason Mount and Reece James are firmly in his plans. Tammy Abraham has forced his way back into contention. Young Scot Billy Gilmour was impressive before his injury and Kurt Zouma is the preferred central defensive partner for Thiago Silva.
At the back, Silva and keeper Edouard Mendy have tightened a leaky defence. Elsewhere, N’Golo Kante is back in a central position, Timo Werner is threatening from the left and Hakim Ziyech has excelled since recovering from an injury in pre-season.
Precisely where record signing Kai Havertz fits in is not yet clear but Chelsea are now a balanced outfit.
As are Spurs, top of the Premier League going into the weekend, and two points better off.