I’d take the ti­tle over any award

Daily Express - - FOOTBALL: BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE - MATTHEW DUNN

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.”

Pic­ture: MICK WALKER

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

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