Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has warned his players that fourth place won’t be an achievement next season.
Despite the loss of Eden Hazard and a transfer ban, Lampard surpassed expectations to finish fourth in the Premier League in his first season as Chelsea boss.
“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.
“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,” Lampard added in Coming Home, a club documentary on his first season in charge.
“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.”