If Chelsea can adopt the work ethic of cricketing superhero Ben Stokes, then success will be theirs.
That’s the message from Frank Lampard, Blues gaffer, who admits he’s still in a state of delighted shock at England’s barnstorming fightback in the Ashes test at Headingley in which Stokes almost single-handedly reversed what appeared to be a nailed-on Aussie victory.
“I watched the first bit in the pub on my phone,” admitted Frank, having – the day before – gained his first victory as manager in the Saturday lunchtime match at Norwich. “It was very impressive; one of the best individual sporting performances I’ve seen in a long time.”
Caught up in the drama of England’s second innings, Frank hurried home with the missus to catch the epic conclusion of the game in his living room.
“To see what it means in terms of sport was special,” he said. “And I love seeing it in sport. I know the work ethic that goes into that; anyone who gets close to what Ben Stokes does has clearly put so much work into it.”
While Lampard believes such sporting performances can inspire the Englishmen in his side, who face Sheffield United at the Bridge on Saturday, he hesitates before saying it’s an achievement which can lift everyone in his squad.
He laughed as he said that he hadn’t attempted to explain the rules of cricket to such Brazilians as Willian and Jorginho – although the latter, the 27-year-old midfielder from Santa Catarina, is back in fans’ good books.
After a chequered relationship with Chelsea supporters last season, Jorginho was cheered by fans at Carrow Road, completing a turnaround in fortunes which Lampard appears to have helped inspire.
“I was delighted to hear [the cheers at Norwich]; fans are generally pretty honest, and they can see a team player with drive and quality who can ‘own’ a game from midfield areas,” said Frank. “He’s a fantastic sportsman who drives training. I thought he finished last season brilliantly; he never hid from receiving the ball, and it’s what fans will applaud. I’m delighted the fans are singing his name.”
Lampard knows tomorrow’s match against the Blades will be tough; he encountered Chris Wilder’s side twice when managing Derby County last season, and was impressed by the boss and the team. “Chris’s recognition is well-deserved,” he said. “He feels deeply about the club, and like Norwich last week, they’ve stuck to their principles.”