Frank lampard has lifted the lid on his crazy first season as Chelsea boss – and promised fans it is only the start.
When he was appointed last summer the club had just sold Eden Hazard, and was under a transfer embargo.
But by blooding youngsters and instituting an exciting new style of football, Lampard masterminded a top-four finish.
There were plenty of pitfalls along the way, with his side unable to compete with the dominant axis of Liverpool and Manchester City.
They were outclassed by Bayern Munich in the Champions league, lost the FA Cup Final to Arsenal, and had to cope with a coronavirus lockdown.
But Lampard is proud of the way his promising young team dealt with every hurdle, and wants even more from them next season.
Lampard said: “My first season back at Chelsea has been a crazy season for many reasons.
“The challenges we faced, to get into the Champions League gave me plenty of positive feelings about how we can go forward from here.
“There were some tough moments along the way, which I certainly took on board and have learned a lot about the squad and where we want to get to.
“But I think the real feeling that comes through is a positive one, that I’m back managing the club that I love – and now I just want to take us forward.”
Many pundits wrote the Blues off when they appointed Lampard, who had never managed in the Premier League before.
But the 42-year-old made them eat their words by clinching Champions League football on the final day of the season.
And though his side finished 33 points behind champions Liverpool, Lampard is convinced they can close the gap next season.
With new boys Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner to add to a strong young core and Kai Havertz next on the shopping list, Chelsea only look like getting stronger.
The Blues boss said: “Fourth place for us I felt was an achievement this season. The focus now is, can we close that gap?”
Lampard pinpoints the FA Cup win over Liverpool in March and the home win over City in June as big moments in his side’s progress.
He said: “Looking back over the season there were certain key moments that showed the team progressing.
“Liverpool in the FA Cup. Against City in the restart period which was so crucial to where we ended up in the league.
“They showed us we can achieve levels but we must improve those levels to get to where we want to get to.”
Lampard admits to being gutted after Chelsea’s FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.
But he believes beating the likes of Liverpool, Leicester and Manchester United along the way will have done his young players the power of good.
Lampard said: “It showed us we have some work to do. We need to take those lessons on board.
“But to beat the teams we did along the way was important, and it was a sign of the team we are going to become.”