Frank Lampard is philosophical about the evolution of his relationship with his former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and insists the pair remain “cordial”.
Once upon a time, Lampard was the lynchpin of Mourinho’s Blues side that won two Premier League titles, as many EFL Cups and an FA Cup during the Portuguese’s first stint in charge at Stamford Bridge.
In the here and now, Lampard is in the Chelsea dugout while Mourinho is in charge of Premier League leaders Tottenham, with the London rivals set to square off on Sunday with just two points and two places separating the teams.
From the outside there has been a certain frostiness between the two parties, including a tense touchline exchange as Spurs defeated Chelsea on penalties in an EFL Cup tie back in September.
There was also an apparent dig made by Mourinho after a 2-0 loss to Lampard’s side in the Premier League last December, when making reference to the “Conte system” employed by his opposite number.
Lampard was keen to stress his respect for Mourinho, though, and explained changes in dynamics are part and parcel of football.
“I don’t know, I wouldn’t say it’s changed it that much, when I left Chelsea in 2014 I think it is, I moved on and my life went in different directions,” Lampard said.
“Generally when you go in different directions you’re so consumed and busy in your lives your relationship changes, so it changed and we were always very cordial.
“If I see Jose, if I talk about him, sending messages between each other, we’ve always had a good relationship on that front.
“I think just naturally now when we are doing the cut-throat of being managers of these clubs that are rivals it does change the relationship – not in a bad way we’ve got no problem with it or I certainly haven’t.
“We’re very competitive people, we always want to do well. When I speak about Jose I always show how much respect I have for him in all senses, I’ve always had that back from him and that’s where it is.”
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The game against Tottenham will be Chelsea’s 1,000th since Roman Abramovich’s takeover of the club 17 years ago.
Lampard has experienced much of that period as a player and a manager and it was put to the Chelsea boss there may be a feeling among the club’s rivals that the Blues’ success in the time since has been bought.
The former England midfielder replied: “That might have been a reaction in early years because we made a difference and invested to a level probably in that short period when we first came, and Jose Mourinho’s first years, we invested and moved up the table because we added quality to the squad.
“I think if you look at top end of Premier League now and how the Premier League has developed, you can look at our spending in the last couple of seasons you can absolutely compare it with Tottenham and Arsenal in terms of players coming in and out of the clubs.
“Then you can also look at Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City and what they’ve done and I think I’ve reeled off five or six clubs at least that are spending a lot of money.
“Teams that get promoted into the Premier League now spend around £100million so I think it’s an argument that’s changed in time.
“But as much as you can invest in football you only win things through pure hard work and personnel on the ground.”