Lampard insists he is overseeing a long-term rebuild at Stamford Bridge and claimed the club had to accept “pain to get to where we want to get”, despite owner Roman Abramovich handing him £220million to spend last summer.
But yesterday’s humbling 3-1 home defeat to Manchester City leaves Chelsea way adrift in the title race and Lampard facing increasing scrutiny.
Abramovich has been quick to ruthlessly sack managers in the past and Chelsea have slipped to eighth in the table following their alarming slump.
Lampard is adamant he is planning for the future but admits he does not know if his superiors share his vision.
“I am not going to speak for people above me because I can never do that,” he said. “That’s why I couldn’t answer a month ago about me getting a new contract. I can’t answer what they’re thinking about now, but it is what it is.
“There is never going to be an absolute trajectory that goes up and up and up. So maybe we had 16 games unbeaten, great, I still saw flaws. When we lost four games in quick succession, I see flaws and they are much more evident to everybody. It is my job to focus on working on them, not what they [the board] are thinking. That would just distract me — and I can’t do it.”
City dominated at Stamford Bridge, scoring three first-half goals, while Chelsea — although just three points off fourth place — have played at least a game more than all but one of the sides above them.
Their total of 26 points after 17 games is three fewer than at the same stage last season, while new signings Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech are all struggling.
Asked whether he felt under pressure, Lampard said: “I will always feel heat. I felt heat when we were on our good run because I know that around the corner can be negatives.
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“I expected periods of difficulty this year. I said it when we beat Leeds and everyone was championing us to be title contenders. I know it doesn’t come that easy. I know where we are at. Whether it puts pressure on me or not is regardless.
“One month ago, everyone was asking whether I’d sign a new contract. Now people will be saying different things because in quick succession, over a tight, busy period, we’ve lost four games. So the pressure remains constant and you know in tough moments that will be there. I didn’t get into this job being unaware of that. My job is to keep working.
“At the minute, we are in a tough period. The expectations after Leeds that we are title contenders was not real. I am real now in saying the club has to take pain for where we want to get to.
“Any rebuild takes pain: pain on the pitch, pain behind the scenes and fight and character. That’s how you build.”