Hard works starts now for new-look Chelsea, says Lampard

(Reuters) - Chelsea manager Frank Lampard on Thursday brushed aside talk of pressure on him to deliver a title after a successful transfer window, saying his new recruits must hit the ground running to help them close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Round of 16 Second Leg - Bayern Munich v Chelsea - Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany - August 8, 2020 Chelsea manager Frank Lampard on the pitch before the match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Lampard deployed a number of youth players last season as they finished fourth in the Premier League, 33 points behind champions Liverpool and 15 behind second-placed City.

The London side have brought in Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, Malang Sarr, Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz in the close season to boost their chances this time around.

“I’m surprised if you didn’t think I wasn’t under pressure last season. I thrive off the pressure. It’s what I love doing,” Lampard told reporters ahead of Monday’s season opener against Brighton & Hove Albion.

“I didn’t come in the job to fight for fourth place or bring academy players in, I came here to win. Last year we couldn’t recruit and this year the club have made the decision to bring in players. It changes the landscape, we’re ready to work.”

Lampard said he understood the excitement of fans following the additions to their squad.

“But I know what it takes to win the Premier League,” added Lampard, a three-times league winner with Chelsea.

“City and Liverpool have run over a few years. I hope we will improve. We know expectations are there, but we want to improve and not get ahead of ourselves.

“The pressure on me to do better should be standard. I don’t want to talk about statements... the work starts now.”

Chelsea will be without Ziyech for the Brighton game after the Moroccan sustained a knee injury in a pre-season friendly. Silva and Chilwell and will also miss out as they work towards full match fitness.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge