I’d take the title over any award
FRANK LAMPARD has already thrown in the towel on winning the FIFA World Player of the Year, but he has warned Liverpool he will not be giving up the title race quite so easily.
After scoring a sublime opening goal for Chelsea in the emphatic 3-0 win over Hull on Wednesday, Lampard’s manager Luiz Felipe Scolari called for his player to be named the best on the planet, having been put on the 23-man shortlist earlier in the day.
However, with Champions League and Premier League medals under his belt in 2008, Lampard feels Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo deserves all the plaudits.
“I’ll be honest,” he said, “it looks like it is going to be Ronaldo. Anyone who scores 42 goals in a season, performs the way he did and wins the league and the Champions League is going to be hard to beat.
“Ronaldo said it the other day and he’s right. The World Player of the Year award goes to a top, top player and it goes generally to those that have won things as well.
“Normally top players win things and when you look at Ronaldo, Kaka, Fabio Cannavaro, Ronaldinho – the recent winners – they have all been successful in their teams.”
Lampard, though, is determined to improve his chances of going one better than his 2005 runner-up spot by collecting some silverware of his own this season.
Critics felt his chances of doing that in the Premier League took a massive blow when Liverpool ended their 86-game unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge with a win at the weekend, which took them three points clear at the top of the table.
However, it is more than 18 years since Liverpool last won the title and Lampard believes the infallibility that earns league crowns is a difficult skill to muster.
And if Liverpool were to slip up at any stage over the remaining three-quarters of the season, Chelsea will be right there ready to pounce.
Lampard said: “We are all very professional, we all want to be winners, so we were disappointed by the Liverpool result. But once the dust settles, losing the home record is something that personally I’m not too concerned about. You don’t win medals for home records, you win medals for winning leagues.
“It was important to get straight back. We’ve always had the attributes of ruthlessness and trying to win. That was one of the beauties of the Jose Mourinho era – you never lose that, it’s very important.
“Liverpool won again on Wednesday, of course, and while I don’t say it worries me, they definitely look stronger than they have been in previous years.
“You can see that in the way they are performing. They have bought very well. They have spent lots of money in the last couple of years and bought quality players.
“What they will have to do is keep it going through the whole season. That’s what we have done when we have won the league and what Manchester United have done in the last two seasons. Whether Liverpool can do it remains to be seen.”
Certainly Lampard has his doubts, as he remains convinced Chelsea can get back to their Premier League-winning ways after a brief hiatus.
“I’m very confident,” he said. “In the last two years we have been there or thereabouts and we had so many issues to deal with. It’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. We changed manager last year, we have had multiple injuries and yet we have been in the mix.
“We have injuries again, but the good thing is we have strength in depth in the squad and a lot of quality people that can come in and do their jobs as good as the people that are coming out.
“And that’s something that if we can keep going through the very difficult parts at Christmas and Easter then hopefully we’ll be there again.”
Of course, while most of the Chelsea players have the necessary experience, it is all new to Scolari. But Lampard has been as impressed by his uplifting words as he has by his considered silences.
“He is a very good motivator and he is very good with the lads,” said Lampard. “He was obviously disappointed after the weekend and he didn’t speak after the game.
“He slept on it, watched the game a couple of times and spoke to us the next day.
“He didn’t have to tell us that we didn’t perform as well as we could have done. He was all about looking forward to the Hull game and that’s the sort of positive thing that we need.”
BACK ON TRACK: Lampard, far left, scored a fantastic goal to set Chelsea on course for a thumping 3-0 win over Hull on Wednesday