Frank Lampard has warned his Chelsea squad they must improve on finishing fourth in the Premier League, insisting Champions League qualification alone will not be considered an achievement next season.
The Blues were able to see off the challenge of Leicester last campaign to finish in the top four during Lampard’s first term in the Stamford Bridge hot seat.
The former midfielder’s efforts was rewarded with a nomination for Premier League Manager of the Season, but the campaign ended in disappointment.
Chelsea were beaten 2-1 in the FA Cup final by London rivals Arsenal before a 4-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League in their final game.
Lampard reflected on a mixed season during an in-house documentary about his first season as Chelsea manager titled ‘Frank Lampard: Coming Home’.
“Fourth place I felt was an achievement,” Lampard said. “It’s very difficult to say that as a Chelsea person because in the modern era we’ve been fortunate enough to be competing most seasons to win the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cups and whatever competition we’re in.
“When you lose a player of the impact of Eden Hazard — and we know that the players relied on his moments of magic to win us games – it was a case for me of ‘what is another way around this and how can we fill that gap?’
“I fully understand why most pundits didn’t give us a chance to come in the top four because when you have players coming back from loan in the Championship, who you’re going to rely on to play 50 games, you have to understand it’s not always going to be smooth, it’s a learning curve.
“There will be difficult times but we must go through them to get where we want to be.”
Though Lampard was content with a fourth-place finish last season, he insists Chelsea’s ambitions should be higher for the coming campaign.
The Englishman added: “To be able to sustain Champions League football next year was a huge thing for the club. It should give confidence now. Fourth was an achievement this year but I don’t want to be saying that next year.
“If we keep moving forward, we want to be saying, ‘how do we close the gap going forward?’ and that’s now our challenge.
“Personally, I have a real desire to never settle on where we are today. I always want more. I don’t want to set huge markers on we are going to be, that would be the wrong approach.
“But let’s work daily to improve, close the gap above us and find more consistency in ourselves. Lots of things this year give us reason to believe. I have a very clear idea about where I see a need for improvement.”
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