Lampard plays down links to Chelsea return

Frank Lampard has played down reports suggesting he is a contender to succeed Maurizio Sarri if the Chelsea head coach is sacked.

Lampard is Chelsea’s record goalscorer, won every club honour during 13 years as a player at Stamford Bridge and is impressing as he makes his managerial bow with Championship Derby.

Sarri’s position could be under threat following Sunday’s 6-0 loss at Manchester City, another of Lampard’s former clubs, as the Blues slipped to sixth place in the Premier League.

The pressure is building on Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri (Nick Potts/PA)

“My job is here,” Lampard told a Derby media conference on Monday.

“We’re working very hard and my thoughts are on Ipswich Town on Wednesday, and Brighton on Saturday.”

Lampard backed Chelsea “as a club” to show resilience and respond to the humiliating defeat, their worst in the league for almost 28 years.

Frank Lampard is Chelsea’s record goalscorer (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The former Blues midfielder said: “With my Chelsea hat on, 13 years as a player there, you have a feeling for it and it’s not nice, it’s not easy. It doesn’t happen to Chelsea much so when it does it’s a shock.

“But they’re going up against an incredible team and I had some time at Manchester City as well. I have some feelings for them. The work Pep Guardiola and their incredible squad have done is something special.

“For Chelsea it was a tough day. With all top teams the important thing is you come back strong, no matter what type of defeat. What makes top teams is resilience and Chelsea as a club will have it.”

Chelsea now sit sixth in the Premier League, below Arsenal on goals scored, ahead of what could be a decisive period for Sarri before the end of February.

The Blues next face Malmo in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie on Thursday.

A resurgent Manchester United visit Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup fifth round next Monday, before the return with Malmo on February 21 and then the Carabao Cup final with Manchester City at Wembley on February 24.

Chelsea then face Tottenham in the Premier League on February 27.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta branded the hammering at City unacceptable and apologised to supporters.

N’Golo Kante said the defeat was “difficult to accept” and the result of a “collective failing”.

Defender Azpilicueta, who was given a torrid time by two-goal City winger Raheem Sterling, said on the club’s website, chelseafc.com: “It’s difficult to find the words to describe my feeling after the game.

“It is one of the worst nights in my career. It’s very frustrating, it’s very disappointing.

“When you lose 6-0 everyone has to accept they didn’t play well. The only thing I can say to the fans is sorry, because it’s not acceptable, and I feel sorry for all of them.”

N’Golo Kante has called for Chelsea to respond from the embarrassing loss to Manchester City (Adam Davy/PA)

It was the Blues’ third defeat in four Premier League games, coming after a 2-0 loss at Arsenal and a 4-0 thrashing by Bournemouth. The only relief during that period was a 5-0 victory over bottom side Huddersfield, at home.

They were in trouble after just four minutes on Sunday as Sterling opened the scoring. Sergio Aguero then helped himself to a hat-trick and Ilkay Gundogan also got on the scoresheet before Sterling completed the rout with his second.

It could even have been worse for Chelsea as Aguero missed an early sitter and also hit the bar.

Kante said on chelseafc.com: “It’s difficult to explain. They outclassed us. It was a collective failing.

“It’s a great disappointment and we have to react. We’ve got a lot to learn from this, and hopefully we will not repeat the same mistakes in the future.”

- Press Association

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