Frank Lampard will remain patient with Kai Havertz and insists any critics must give the Chelsea forward time to adapt to the Premier League.
Up against a resilient Everton on Saturday, Lampard’s side slipped to their first defeat since a penalty shoot-out loss to Tottenham in the EFL Cup on September 29.
It ended an unbeaten run of 14 games in all competitions, with the Blues missing the chance to go top of the table.
Havertz, who started on the right of a front three which also included Timo Werner and Olivier Giroud, put in a particularly frustrating showing.
The Germany international, signed from Bayer Leverkusen this year, was kept under wraps by Ben Godfrey, who played out of position at left-back in an Everton defence comprising four centre-backs.
Havertz had 42 touches, completed 22 of his 28 passes, registered one attempt at goal – which was blocked – and supplied one key pass.
Godfrey made a game-high five interceptions as he frustrated Havertz, with the youngster making way for Tammy Abraham in the 68th minute.
— Everton (@Everton) December 13, 2020
Yet despite Havertz’s below-par display, Lampard backed the 21-year-old, who has scored one goal and provided one assist from 10 chances created across 10 Premier League appearances, to prove his quality.
“In the modern day there’s going to be criticism of every player of every club that loses a game, or something went awry or a pass went astray, so we certainly should be patient with Kai Havertz from a Chelsea point of view, because he’s a top-quality talent that’s come into this league,” Lampard told a news conference.
“He’s playing on the right wing, he can play in any position across the front – he played off the right wing countless times before he signed for Chelsea and he can play in midfield also, so that’s not an issue.
“We do have to be patient, not just with him, but any young player, because of the speed of the Premier League, so I’ve got no problem with Kai.
“If people want to jump straight on to criticise, just wait, give a young player time, whether it be a week or a month or six months or a year, whatever, because I know the player that Kai Havertz is going to be.”
Everton had just 28 per cent possession at Goodison Park, with the hosts attempting just 241 passes compared to Chelsea’s 639.
Yet Gylfi Sigurdsson’s first-half penalty proved enough, as the Toffees restricted the visitors to just three shots on target – the last of which came from Kurt Zouma in the 28th minute.
Lampard spoke highly of his former manager Carlo Ancelotti before the match, and the Everton boss believes his old side have the potential to compete on all fronts despite their performance on Saturday.
“Yes, they are a fantastic team, a fantastic squad,” Ancelotti told reporters.
“They are playing well and going to fight for the title in the end, and for sure in the Champions League they have possibilities.
“They are a young squad and perhaps sometimes they need the experience to manage difficult games, but it is only this. The quality of the team is top.”