When Jose Mourinho took over as Chelsea manager the first time nine years ago, he visited England’s Euro 2004 training camp outside Lisbon to introduce himself to the club’s English contingent including a 26-year-old Frank Lampard who was shining at the championships.
Lampard scored three goals in that tournament, his breakthrough as a first-choice England player, and was voted by fans of the national team as their player of the year for the next two years. He would win his first Premier League title under Mourinho the following season and by the end of 2005 he took second place in the Fifa world player of the year award, a runner-up only to Ronaldinho.
It would be fair to say that Mourinho took over Chelsea as Lampard’s took off at a startling trajectory. The two were very good for one another. Lampard’s goals won Mourinho’s team crucial games, including two that clinched the first league title at Bolton in April 2005 and – apart from giving John Terry the captaincy – Mourinho treated Lampard like a favourite son. He played every game as the undisputed “untouchable” in the Chelsea team.
Second time around and Lampard was signed up for another season in time for Mourinho’s return but two games into the new era he has yet to pull on Chelsea shirt. An Achilles problem has nagged away at the 36-year-old and, usually a willing communicator, he has not given an interview yet on tour. He did not train with the squad in Jakarta this evening and is unlikely to feature in tomorrow’s game against the Indonesia All-Star side.
For Mourinho, there is an acceptance that he will have to treat Lampard in a different way. The Chelsea manager says that, in previous years, he has used the likes of Claude Makelele and Javier Zanetti sparingly but effectively and will do the same with Lampard.
Mourinho said: “The role [Lampard plays on the pitch] doesn't have to change. What has to change is the way we analyse competition. Because before we didn't analyse it, before it was ‘Every match, he plays'.
“Sometimes I wanted to give him a rest in a Carling Cup match and he said 'If you give me a rest the next match I will not be the same, because I have to play every three days'.
“I believe he is the same player, with the difference that he is 35 and the time [required] to recover from match to match is not the same for a man of 35 as it is for a man of 25. That's the only point.
“Now we have to analyse the fixtures, to analyse the matches, to analyse the week we have and to make a few choices. He can't play 60 matches like he did before, but the quality of the player and what he represents for the way I like to play football is exactly the same.”
Last season Lampard missed November with a calf problem, following the thigh injury that ruled him out of Euro 2012, but he still managed 50 appearances and 17 goals for his club as well as six goals in seven games for England. “He [Lampard] is intelligent, he's open, he has a very good relationship with me,” Mourinho said. “He knows I know how to do it with players of his age. Because at the end of the day we have to be just clever - the player is the same.”