As the full time whistle blew on Sunday afternoon, and Chelsea’s Champions League qualification was secured, nearly everyone involved in the club celebrated.
But for Frank Lampard, the celebrations were short lived, as he reflected on how the club he spent the majority of his playing career challenging for major honours seemed to be doing an Arsenal.
Speaking after the game, Lampard said “It means a great deal [to qualify for the Champions League] but at Chelsea we have to be careful about getting too excited with top-four finishes. We know where we’re at, we’ve secured top four and [now] can we close that gap? Liverpool and Man City have taken it to a different level.
“We always want more, but we’ll reflect on the league and we’ve come in the top four when it’s very competitive.”
It’s that kind of mentality that will push the club all the way back to the top. It’s no coincidence that Roman Abramovich’s apparent reconnection with the club has coincided with Lampard being in charge.
His work ethic is infectious. As a player he’d be the last one to leave the pitch during training and this in turn inspired the rest of the squad to do the same.
With a squad made up with a lot of academy players, who grew up watching Lampard on the pitch, have already shown they’ve brought into his mantra.
This has also been replicated in our two new signings Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, who both highlighted the boss as a major reason for choosing Chelsea over our rivals across Europe.
Lampard has spoken about a three year plan to get back to the top, and his comments after the Watford game shows that despite over achieving this year, it’s still not enough.
You all have probably seen the BBC Sport graphic from their pundits picking their top four at the start of the season, only three (all with Chelsea influence) but Chelsea in their top four.
In fact even in the Chelsea Fancast predictions way back, JK and Clayton had us finishing outside the top 6!
For us to finish 4th, is a good season given the circumstances. To add an FA Cup trophy to that would make it a great season.
But make no mistake, it’s not good enough, and it should never be good enough. Top 4 is a bare minimum requirement.
If we’re not winning the league, we need to be challenging. We need to face teams like Bayern Munich in the Champions League and not get rolled over 3-0.
We need and must close that gap on Liverpool and City. The signings so far point towards a positive step forwards, but again there must be reinforcements in our defence.
All season long we’ve struggled at the back, Kepa Arrizabalaga won’t play for the club again, and we’re crying out for a top centre half.
But of course Lampard knows all this (and much more). Things have been frustrating at times, but the majority of the season has been overwhelming positive.
Finishing fourth this year gives us a foundation to continue on the right path of our three year plan. It enables us to be able to attract the calibre of player needed to claw some of that gap back.
Chelsea are back! Chelsea are back!