Essien, Hoddle, Mikel and Chopper Harris have their say on Lampard
Frank Lampard could feature at some stage against Chelsea tomorrow at Stamford Bridge and the focus will be all about him. Despite the fact that there is a game to be won, the media and press will focus on the fact that arguably Chelsea's greatest ever player, could return and severely dent our title push.
I have read all sorts of opinion on Lampard and personally, I cannot believe the negativity towards the man from some quarters of the Chelsea faithful. For someone who has done so much for our club and someone who played such a pivotal role to ever be thought of from a negative standpoint is simply ridiculous.
Let me just point something out to all those of you that are negative towards him. He was released by Chelsea for whatever reason, released so what else is the guy to do if he believes that he still has a couple of years left in him?
Moving on now and before the game tomorrow Michael Essien, Glen Hoddle, Mikel and Ron "Chopper" Harris have all had their say on his return and the reception they believe he will receive from the fans.
Essien said, “It will be difficult — I don’t know how he’s going to do it. It will be a very strange situation. I cannot see myself doing that against Chelsea.”
”With a different team in England, going back to play your old club when you’ve been there for so long... wow! It’s going to be difficult. But, at the end of the day it’s another game and he’s professional,” he adds.
“Well, you know how fans are but I believe the Chelsea fans are always going to give him their warmth and respect everything that he did for the club. I’m sure that they will give him a welcome.”
Glen Hoddle also has had his say on the reaction from the fans tomorrow and the situation Lampard found himself in. He said, “I’m hoping he receives the kind of reception reserved for much-loved returning players.”
“The key point that is sometimes lost in the confusion over whether Frank was joining New York City or Manchester City — which was admittedly a strange situation — is that Chelsea didn’t offer Frank a new deal last summer,” he added.
“The club clearly decided they could do without him. Maybe his opportunities would have been limited, given how strong Chelsea have been this season. But from that point on, Frank had to find himself a team. Perhaps you could understand why some fans were upset with him if he had been agitating for a move or demanding to leave even though Chelsea wanted him.”
“But he only left to play for someone else when the club didn’t want him. It seems pretty clear that he loves the club and the fans and always will.”
John Obi Mikel has begged the fans to give Lampard a good reception but spoke of how tomorrow friendships will be put to one side and said: “Chelsea fans should definitely cheer him – there’s no question about that because Frank is a legend.”
“He was at the club a long time and I think the fans will be happy to have him back. He’s such a lovely guy – we can’t wait to welcome him and give him a good ovation,” he added. “I learnt a lot from Frank. He is a very good friend of mine and we got on very well when he was here.”
“For nine years, we won so many trophies. In so many battles, we fought together side by side digging out results in tough games. So it will be strange to play against him here. We both want to win and after the game we are both friends.”
“But during the game there is no friendship – it’s strictly business,” he concluded.
Finally, Ron "Chopper" Harris has also had his say on the whole Lampard situation and his return to the Bridge.
He said, “ There will be some for him and some against. They should support Chelsea. Frank's a terrific lad and served Chelsea ever so well. (But) if he was to score the winning goal for Manchester City, it might blow up.”
Chelsea Supporters Trust Chairman Tim Rolls has put it perfectly ahead of what is a massive game tomorrow.
Just as everyone else, he was asked of Lampard and reacted by saying: “Lampard is a sideshow really for Saturday. If Chelsea win we're eight points clear with 15 games to go. It's an absolutely fundamental game for our season. I'd hope the support will get behind the team.”
Prepare yourselves people. The next day or so is going to be full of sub-plots and Lampard's return coverage. We just need to stick to the game itself and to focus on getting behind those playing in Chelsea shirts to support them to a massive three points to extend our lead.
Frank Lampard would never have wanted things to turn out as it has. He never got a chance to say goodbye properly and tomorrow is NOT the time or the place.