Football

Frank Lampard hits back at Jose Mourinho’s criticism

Ex-Blues boss had slammed former charge for leaving out experienced players

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard defended his team selection for last Sunday's 4-0 defeat by Manchester United, in response to criticism from his former boss Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho made his debut as a television pundit for Sky Sports on the day Lampard, his former midfield general, was in charge of Chelsea for the first time in the English Premier League.

The Portuguese manager, sacked by Manchester United last December, was critiquing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's strikers Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, but then veered into a damning verdict of Chelsea, with whom he won league titles in two separate spells.

Rashford scored twice at Old Trafford and Martial was also on target, along with new signing Daniel James, but Mourinho questioned whether they could perform consistently against more solid defences.

"I think they can when they are facing teams like Chelsea, I think they were too soft," Mourinho said, before questioning Lampard's tactical approach.

"(Chelsea) were not compact defensively, too much space to play, not enough aggression on the ball, the defensive line, the midfield, the attack, they were not compact.

"(Forward) Tammy Abraham was staying up, (Ross) Barkley was staying up, (Mason) Mount was staying up, Pedro (Rodriguez) was staying up.

"Nowadays, all the good teams defend compact.

"Higher block or lower block - the lower block is more defensive, the higher block more offensive, more aggressive - but always in the block.

"It's just a basic principle, you have to defend compact, and Chelsea were never that, so it was too easy for Man United."

Mourinho also questioned Lampard's team selection, in particular his decision to leave N'Golo Kante, who was returning from injury, on the bench.

The midfield dynamo eventually played the last 17 minutes, after coming on for Jorginho.

"(Marcos) Alonso was on the bench, Kante was on the bench, (Olivier) Giroud was on the bench, and to come to Old Trafford, even if this is not the huge Manchester United that used to scare people, it's Manchester United.

EXPERIENCE

"A little bit of experience would fit well with the team.

"You look to the performance of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, for matches of this dimension, you need a little bit more."

Lampard appeared surprised by Mourinho's comments, particularly about 20-year-old Mount, who was making his EPL debut.

"He didn't like the performance of Mason Mount? Did he say Mason Mount?" asked Lampard, before saying fitness issues had influenced his choices.

"Well, I can't drag people out of the medical room to play. If they are experienced or not, the players are the players that played today.

"I don't have to be too concerned about what anyone else says, pundit-wise or whoever they may be, they have to speak.

"At the same time, what is clear is the squad is the squad that we have got.

"I believe in them, and if we go into half-time two or three-nil up, as we probably should have done if we were more clinical... the game could have been completely different."

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta also defended his young teammates, saying: "We trust in them and they are here because they deserve to be here...

"We have a massive opportunity to create a fantastic group."

But Mourinho was not the only former EPL manager to take a swipe at the Blues.

RESULT OVER STYLE

Former England and Everton manager Sam Allardyce dismissed the argument that Chelsea were largely the better team for the first 60 minutes, telling talkSPORT: "What is most important, the way you play or the result?

"Manchester United have not played as well as Chelsea over the 90 minutes, but look at the result - 4-0 to Man United.

"You crumbled, you went to pieces, you lost your shape, you lost your discipline and you did something that no one should do - and that's chase the game.

"You ultimately fail when you chase anything. You chase, you chase, you fail. You play your way back into the game, you keep your discipline.

"You've been in control of the ball for most of the game and now they've fallen apart and actually just let Manchester United do what they want.

"There were no defensive qualities from Chelsea in those (final) 15-20 minutes."

Ex-Ireland and Chelsea midfielder Andy Townsend seemed to agree, saying on BBC Radio: "After a really good 45 minutes, Chelsea went under too easy... That is something they have to sort out straight away."

Football