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Frank Lampard "very proud" of how Chelsea have handled coronavirus crisis

Frank Lampard
© Reuters
The Blues have received praise for their response to the pandemic.

Frank Lampard is proud of Chelsea’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While some clubs have been criticised for furloughing staff at the taxpayers’ expense during the suspension of play, Chelsea have made no such move and drew praise for making their Millennium Hotel available to the NHS in the early days of the crisis.

Long before the debate over whether Premier League players should be taking pay cuts, the first-team squad also made a “sizeable” donation to the club’s foundation in late March, helping to provide support to local hospitals and those affected by the virus.

“I’m very proud to be the manager of this club with the way Chelsea have handled it,” Lampard said on Sky Sports.

“They were very quick to respond with the help of the hotel and there’s a lot more work going on with the foundation, with link-ups and with getting in touch with fans.

“There are a lot of people at Chelsea who have really stood up.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock caused controversy earlier this month when he singled out Premier League footballers in calling for them to sacrifice a portion of their pay to help out, speaking at a time when plans were already being drawn up behind the scenes.

“Football players will try and do the right thing,” Lampard said. “I think they needed some time and the politicians jumped the gun while things were being prepared. It was unfortunate that picture got painted.

“Since then a lot of players have stood up. The situation is not perfect but, knowing players, that’s been a very good reaction and it’s ongoing and it shouldn’t stop. If there’s a light at the end of this tunnel it’s how we give back.

“It’s easy said and much harder done but there’s been a lot of gestures that have shown that.”

Like all managers, Lampard is trying to prepare through an unprecedented time in football, with everybody working from home and no one certain when matches might return.

“It’s challenging,” he said. “It’s not as challenging as it is for some people, we know what tough times these are for people at the minute. It’s challenging in that its unprecedented and we don’t know how long it’s going to go on for.

“We’re trying to stay in contact with the players. In football we’re so used to schedules and routine and this is completely different.”

The 41-year-old, in his first season as Chelsea boss, said he had to have trust in his players to follow the fitness plans and advice given to them by coaches.

“It’s very hard to absolutely manage that,” he said. “You can ask them to run an hour a day but some are able to do some open running and some can’t so there’s a big element of trust in the players.

“We may have a short pre-season coming up so the players need to be ready. But they are professionals so you have to trust that they will want to come back as well as they can.”

Soccer – Football League Division One – Chelsea Photocall
Former Chelsea and England goalkeeper Peter Bonetti died on Sunday (PA)

Lampard also paid tribute to former Chelsea goalkeeper and England World Cup winner Peter Bonetti, who died on Sunday aged 78.

“It’s very, very sad news I think for Chelsea obviously – he was a Chelsea legend – and for football in general because he was an England legend as well,” he said.

“I’ve got memories of watching him as a player and also meeting him and what a gentleman he was.

“He was working in hospitality upstairs when I first came to Chelsea and he was so friendly, he had time for everybody. He was an absolute gentleman and it’s a huge loss for Chelsea and for football.”

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