The Blues boss highlighted the issue after the most recent defeat to Sheffield United and explained his side’s problem in further detail
Frank Lampard has admitted that Chelsea have long had a communication issue on the pitch, having seen Sheffield United out-talk them and ultimately outplay them in a 3-0 defeat at Bramall Lane on Saturday.
The defeat represented just another example to the Chelsea manager of an area he wants to improve upon as his side’s Champions League qualification status was thrown into renewed doubt by the loss.
Chelsea are keen to put the defeat in the past, and face relegated Norwich on Tuesday. With a dressing room that contains several introverts, Lampard is hoping to coax better dialogue from his players on the pitch.
“When you talk about players, it is very easy and natural to look at talent, but you also have to look at attitude and character within the team,” Lampard told reporters on Zoom. “I think it’s something we can improve.
“Younger players can be more vocal and can grow as they go along. Older players can take on the responsibility of helping that as well. Moments like this, critical times like this now where there’s a lot on the line, it’s time for people to make that improvement.
“It is much easier to improve opening your mouth than it is to beat three players and put it in the top corner. It’s really one of the basics of football and that’s something that we drum home here and will have to keep drumming because I didn’t hear enough at the weekend.
“The main thing is that you can be as quiet as you want off the pitch – we have some quiet players here who keep themselves to themselves – but they must come out of that on the pitch, they must demand the ball, otherwise the game can pass you by.
“It’s important not to wallow in a pit of ‘Oh my God, we lost 3-0 at Sheffield United.’ The important thing now is how we react and I expect that from the players tomorrow. I’ve got big personalities and there will be big personalities in the team tomorrow.
“They need to stand up. They need to show the quality they’ve shown for big parts of the season. I trust they will do and because we’re at the business end, it’s very important that they do.”
Alongside the communication problem, the Blues’ defence has come under scrutiny. The three goals conceded on Saturday to have taken their league total to 49 this season in 35 games, which is the worst total among the top 10 teams.
One cause might be the lack of continuity in defence, with Lampard often switching up his back four, but he denies that he needs to find his best two centre-backs to improve things.
“You want to get settled relationships, but if we are making individual errors, some can be collective, but individual errors or multiple errors into goals which we’ve seen recently against West Ham and Sheffield United, then you have to take that into account,” he added.
“At the same time, I don’t want players to think they will be out of the team if they make one mistake so there is a balance to that. But clearly, we haven’t found that partnership in that area that I’ve settled on and that’s something we’re striving for.
“There is a way that I want us to play and it’s not gung-ho, it’s not crazy. A lot of the goals are the balls that come into our box that maybe we don’t defend right at that moment and that’s something that has to improve and I feel I know the answers to it.
“I hate conceding goals. I don’t think any team in modern football are going to say: ‘We’ve got that partnership.’ You go back and talk about a John Terry-Ricardo Carvlaho partnership, but in the modern day, I don’t think you will find too many clubs to name the two.
“You want to be able to say to players: ‘you are not doing enough’. I don’t think it’s about just a partnership. Can we be more settled if we improve? Yes, for sure. Will it be just two players who are going to be your centre-backs? I don’t think that’s going to be the case.”
Meanwhile, Lampard confirmed that 19-year-old midfielder Billy Gilmour had a successful operation on the meniscus in his knee on Friday as he is set for four months on the sidelines to recover.
“It did go well for Billy,” he said. “He was in at the training ground yesterday on his crutches so it went as well as it possibly could and now he is going to keep his feet up. I’m confident with Billy he’ll do everything right and let’s hope he comes back as soon as possible.”