By Frank Lampard's own admission, there have been times in recent months when looking at the newspapers has not been good for his morale. "The missus hides them," he said with a grin as he looked forward to Chelsea's appointment with the Premiership leaders, Manchester United, at Old Trafford tomorrow.
Lampard's form of late has been sufficiently good for him to feel secure about scanning the back pages, and he was happy to acknowledge that he had settled down for a look at the papers over breakfast yesterday.
He was fully conversant, therefore, with claims by his club's chief executive, Peter Kenyon, that Chelsea could eventually become an even bigger and better brand than United. And claims, too, from United's Cristiano Ronaldo that Chelsea had not gained themselves anything special with their big money acquisitions Andrei Shevchenko and Michael Ballack. The Portuguese winger also questioned how well Chelsea would fare without the managerial guidance of his fellow countryman, Jose Mourinho.
"Some games we've had recently there has hardly been much to read about beforehand," Lampard said. "The last few days there has been lots in the build-up for this match. I enjoy that - I look forward to it." Ronaldo's speculation over the importance of the Chelsea manager was addressed with some passion by the England midfielder.
"The manager will always be a huge part of a club," he said. "You could ask the same question about Manchester United and Alex Ferguson. I think we've got to take that as a compliment - we've got a very good manager. We love playing for him and we hope he will be here a long time.
"For me he ticks all the boxes in terms of tactics. He is the manager, and I find that personally when he sits down and talk tactics, whether it be something you've known all your career or something new, it makes complete sense and it just sort of fits, and I love that because I like to learn from managers. It's great to feel that he's on the ball tactically and he'll bring a different angle to what you've seen before. His man-management every day, his personality - he's the kind of manager I think you look up to and you want to be like him, which is a winner. And that's the most important thing I think when you are dealing with top players - you man-manage them, and get the best out of them."
More particularly, Lampard is looking forward to his team getting a brisk start at Old Trafford, where they departed last season feeling aggrieved after losing to a single Darren Fletcher goal.
Lampard carefully rejected the idea, however, that this was a must-win game - or even a must-not-lose one - against the team currently three points clear of them at the top.
"We want to win," he said. "But even if we lose, there is a long way to go in the Premiership so I think it's too early to start making statements like that. At the same time Man U have raised their level and we obviously want to go up there and get a win that will put us back on top with them."Reuse content