Frank Lampard admits expectations at Chelsea will soar after an expensive recruitment drive ahead of the new Premier League season.
The Stamford Bridge club have spent nearly £200 million (Dh966m) – bringing in the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Kai Havertz and Malang Sarr – and could add even more new faces.
The former Chelsea midfielder is under no illusions that owner Roman Abramovich will expect improvements on last season.
The club finished fourth in the Premier League to secure Champions League qualification in Lampard's first campaign, but
lost the FA Cup final to Arsenal and were thumped 7-1
on aggregate by Bayern Munich in Europe.
"I'm very aware that a club like Chelsea, even though we had a transfer ban, even though the year was difficult, expectations are going to go up hugely," Lampard told The High Performance Podcast. "And I just have to accept that as part of the job, and try and go about my job as well as I can."
Lampard said he expected a "messy patch" that would challenge his managerial skills, now that the honeymoon period at Chelsea was over.
Chelsea will start their Premier League campaign away at Brighton on September 14.
"I think you have to be understanding that you're coming to the messy patch," Lampard said. "I think our messy patch probably happened actually back end of the season.
"I think we achieved a lot ... because nobody expected us to come in the top four. But we lost a cup final, and then we lost to Bayern Munich. And it's a bitter taste for me, I go away and I have a bad feel about those games.
"So I understand that those issues and problems will come again. It's just that I, and we as staff, have to double down. We have to work harder."
Cheslea 2019/20 season ratings
CHELSEA 2019/20 RATINGS: MANAGER: Frank Lampard - 8. Lampard's appointment last summer was met with realistic optimism. Chelsea's greatest goalscorer was back at the club but had to contend with a transfer embargo that meant he was unable to replace the sold Eden Hazard. Billed as Chelsea's weakest squad in years, Lampard steered the Blues to a top four finish in the Premier League, the FA Cup final, and the Champions League last 16. All while giving ample opportunities to the club's youngsters. There is still plenty of room for improvement, particularly with the team's defensive frailties, but an impressive first year in the Stamford Bridge dugout. Getty Images
GOALKEEPERS: Kepa Arrizabalaga – 4. There are many things you want from the world’s most expensive goalkeeper. Being a liability is not one of them. The Spaniard had one of the worst save percentages in the Premier League and has been a major culprit in Chelsea’s defensive failings. His Stamford Bridge future looks bleak. Reuters
Willy Caballero – 6. Chelsea’s No 2 has had a decent season. Limited to five league appearances, the Argentine has been the Cup keeper, helping his side reach the FA Cup final, so there can’t be too many complaints. EPA
DEFENDERS: Antonio Rudiger – 6. It was a mixed bag for the German centre-back, whose performances have ranged from commanding to comical. Should be part of Frank Lampard’s plans next season unless a tempting offer is made. Getty Images
Kurt Zouma – 7. The Frenchman made more appearances than any other central defender to mark an encouraging return to the first team after successive seasons on loan. As culpable as the rest for Chelsea’s back-line struggles but redeemed himself with 'that' tackle against Crystal Palace. AP
Andreas Christensen – 6. In and out of the team this season, the Dane could be the one to make way if Chelsea recruit a new centre-back this summer. Reuters
Cesar Azpilicueta – 8. Chelsea’s captain remains as important as ever. Not only the team’s stand-out defender but chipped in with four goals and seven assists. His versatility has proved priceless when Lampard switched between formations. AP
Emerson Palmieri – 5. Started the season as first choice left-back but the Italian barely featured after the turn of the year. Is expected to leave this summer. AP Photo
Reece James – 8. An impressive debut season for the English right-back. Solid in defence, full of pace and power going forward, and with an excellent final delivery. At just 20, James is only going to get better. Chelsea have their right-back for the next 10 years. AFP
Marcos Alonso – 6. This is a unique one as the Spaniard deserves a 7 or 8 as a wing-back but would probably get a 3 or 4 as a left-back. His overall rating is a reflection of that. EPA
Fikayo Tomori – 7. Like James, another academy graduate to impress in his breakthrough season. Tomori started brightly before injury disrupted his campaign. He looks the real deal, though, and should have a bright future at the Bridge. Scored arguably Chelsea's goal of the season against Wolves. Shutterstock
Tariq Lamptey – 6. Looked lively in the few games he played, particularly the 31-minute cameo against Arsenal. Opted to leave the club in January and has since helped Brighton remain in the Premier League. AP
MIDFIELDERS: N’Golo Kante – 7. After three exemplary seasons for Chelsea, this has been the toughest for the French midfielder, who has endured numerous injury setbacks. Still remains vitally important to the Blues and will look to reset next season. PA Wire
Jorginho – 7. The Italian playmaker was superb during Chelsea’s fine autumn run and formed a good partnership with Mateo Kovacic. But he can be too one-dimensional and gets exposed in a defensive role. A good offer could see him leave this summer. AFP
Mason Mount – 8. Eight goals and six assists do not do justice to how good the English midfielder has been this season. A classy operator on the ball, fantastic in the high-press and brimming with quality. Lionel Messi believes Mount is destined for the top, so who are we to argue? Getty Images
Mateo Kovacic – 8. Had a decent enough loan spell last season but many fans did not think it warranted a €40m (Dh170m) move. That fee has so far proved money well spent after a brilliant campaign from the Croatian midfielder. Should get even better next year. Getty Images
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 6. There is no disputing the English midfielder’s quality, but injuries have become a real issue. If he is fit and firing next season, Loftus-Cheek should have an important role in the squad. AFP
Ross Barkley – 6. His best season in a Chelsea shirt with some real moments of quality. But the consistency that separates good and great players is still missing. EPA
Billy Gilmour – 7. Broke through in style with back-to-back man of the match performances against Liverpool and Everton. Looked a bit off the pace after the restart before getting injured, but the 19-year-old midfielder is an exciting talent. Reuters
FORWARDS: Christian Pulisic – 8. The American winger was held back at the start of the season and showed glimpses of his quality before injury struck. However, after the restart, Pulisic was Chelsea’s stand-out player and signed off his debut campaign with 11 goals and 10 assists. He will be even better next season. AFP
Tammy Abraham – 8. The English striker’s form tailed off in the weeks either side of the lockdown but it should not take away from a fine debut season. Abraham’s goals in the first few months were what propelled Chelsea into top-four contention. He ended the campaign with 18 goals and six assists in all competitions. Getty Images
Callum Hudson-Odoi – 5. Another exciting talent for the future, this was meant to be a breakthrough season for Hudson-Odoi. Unfortunately, injury held the winger back, but at 19 he has plenty of time to progress. AFP
Willian – 8. Chelsea’s senior forward has led by example this season with 11 goals and nine assists. As the Brazilian leaves this summer, it was a fine way to complete his superb seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge. Getty Images
Michy Batshuayi – 3. Barely featured this season and this must surely be the summer the Belgian striker leaves for good. AFP
Pedro – 5. Injuries, illness, and a drop down the pecking order saw the Spanish winger’s impact limited during his final season. Will be remembered fondly by the Chelsea faithful. Getty Images
Olivier Giroud – 8. Almost left in January after growing frustrated with his lack of game time. Chelsea fans will be grateful he didn’t as the French striker hit a run of goalscoring form after the restart and replaced Abraham as Chelsea’s first choice striker. EPA