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Chelsea appoint club legend Lampard as coach

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop explains who he feels will be Frank Lampard's most important players at Chelsea this season.
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Chelsea have appointed club legend and all-time top scorer Frank Lampard as their new head coach.

Lampard was identified as the preferred choice to succeed Maurizio Sarri at Stamford Bridge despite having only one year of managerial experience at Derby, whom he led to the Championship playoff final but lost to Aston Villa.

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"I am immensely proud to be returning to Chelsea as head coach," Lampard said Thursday. "Everyone knows my love for this club and the history we have shared, however, my sole focus is on the job in hand and preparing for the season ahead.

"I am here to work hard, bring further success to the club and I cannot wait to get started."

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: "It gives us great pleasure to welcome Frank back to Chelsea as head coach. Frank possesses fantastic knowledge and understanding of the club, and last season, he demonstrated he is one of the most talented young coaches in the game.

"After 13 years with us as a player, where he became a club legend and our record goal scorer, we believe this is the perfect time for him to return and are delighted he has done so. We will do everything we can to ensure he has all the support required to be a huge success."

Asked at his introductory news conference if he has sought assurances from the club, Lampard replied: "I haven't. I am a realist and I don't want favours going into something. That is not the way I work. We seem very focused at Chelsea on managers and change and the Premier League and around the world and you want to be successful.

"You can judge success on different levels. All I can do is not get too far ahead of myself and work hard with what I have.

"We have to start with an intention to win and if I didn't say that I don't think I should be here because that's how it has to be.

"Do we want to be playing Champions League football year in, year out? Yes for sure, and that is something that should drive us all on -- myself and the players included.

"I can't sit here and say what it is because there are a number of factors this year. Yes we want to develop players and we want to be competitive, I am not going to start suggesting league positions."

Lampard will be accompanied back at Chelsea by former Blues academy coach Jody Morris as well as fitness coach Chris Jones, while he confirmed that Eddie Newton and Joe Edwards will also be promoted to the first-team staff.

"It's a very Chelsea-orientated team but what I want to make clear is this is not an old boys club," he added. "What I'm trying to put together with this staff is talent, it's fresh talent in my eyes. We are relatively young but we are not inexperienced.

"I may have only one year in management but in Jody, Joe and Eddie and Chris we have many years of coaching within us.

"You mention about Petr and you mention about the talk of Didier [Drogba] and [Claude] Makelele -- I think what we are trying to do and that is not just me it is the club is to bring in not just players who played for the club because they played for the club we are trying to bring in people that feel the club, yes, first and foremost yes that is nice but also people with an incredible work ethic."

Many supporters have interpreted Lampard's appointment as a sign that Chelsea are finally set to focus on providing first-team chances for their talented academy prospects, but the 41-year-old insisted that he will treat all members of his squad equally as he formulates his plans in preseason.

"I mentioned on one hand that I want to work with young players and that will really important and one of my first jobs to do, and I will do it throughout my time. But at the same time I want to work with the experienced players, the ones who have been around a long time and feel the club.

Frank Lampard is the first Englishman to be appointed Chelsea manager under owner Roman Abramovich.

"I want players, whether you are 18 years of age or 32 years of age, this is your club and you are not just passing through Chelsea into something else.

"I want people who want to be here. I played at Chelsea with fantastic players, not just John Terry who was Mr Chelsea, but [Didier] Drogba and [Petr] Cech, people who came to the club and felt the club.

"My idea is not just to think about working with 18 or 32 year olds, my idea is to work with the best players, squad, to get the best out of them and be as competitive as we can be."

Lampard also revealed that despite having worked with a host of illustrious managers during his 13 years at Chelsea including the likes of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, he has not reached out to any of them for advice.

"No I haven't spoken to any of them and as it stands I don't plan to call them," he said. "As I mentioned before I try and take bits from them throughout my career and that's how I've tried to become my own person. If I felt the need to pick up the phone there are many numbers I could call but as it stands no."

Sarri left to join Juventus after just one season at Chelsea, which ended with a top-three finish in the Premier League, victory over London rivals Arsenal in the Europa League final and a loss on penalties to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.

Lampard, 40, becomes the first Englishman, and the 11th man overall, to be appointed as a permanent Chelsea manager by owner Roman Abramovich.

Lampard's return will be hugely popular with Chelsea supporters. He won 11 major trophies in 13 years at Stamford Bridge, including three Premier League titles and the Champions League. He is the club's all-time top scorer with 211 goals.

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