Avram Grant joked he would have been “sent to Siberia” by Roman Abramovich had he led Chelsea to a fourth-place finish, but the former Blues boss is thrilled for Frank Lampard.
Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Wolves on the final day of the season ensured Lampard’s side will be playing in the Champions League next term.
The Blues now have the FA Cup final against Arsenal to focus on, before they face Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie – though the Bundesliga winners hold a 3-0 aggregate lead.
In his sole season at the club in 2007-08, Grant guided Chelsea to a second-place finish in the Premier League, while the Blues lost to Tottenham in the EFL Cup final and then succumbed to Manchester United on penalties to miss out on Champions League success.
Grant was sacked soon after that Champions League finale, and though he is thrilled that Lampard has taken Chelsea to the top four this season, he pointed out Abramovich did not give him such leniency 12 years ago.
“I think it’s a good season, especially compared to how it began, without being allowed to buy players,” Grant told Stats Perform News.
“Compared to the requirement of Roman Abramovich, if I told him some years ago that fourth place would be good for him, probably he would send me to Siberia.
“But because of the situation before, I think it’s a good place. For Frank, I think it’s a big achievement.
“It’s his first year as a coach in the Premier League. Of course, he was a player with a lot of experience, but you cannot compare a player to a manager, and I think he’s managed the team very well.
“A lot of young players and he knew how to play them, how to give them a rest and when to push them. It’s a good base for the future, I was very pleased with his performance.”
Grant also believes Lampard always had the right mentality as a player to become a top-level coach, with the former midfielder one of a number of players in the Chelsea squad of 2007-08 who showed such promise.
“I was sure because he was always a leader. When you spoke with him, he had a different view about football,” Grant said.
“In my team at Chelsea, there was a lot of leaders. I thought [Michael] Ballack would be a good coach, Didier [Drogba], John Terry because there was a good personality and a lot of knowledge about football.
“Of course, having the knowledge is not the same, you have to pass the knowledge to players, you have to deal with the owner, the media, you have to deal with the supporters.
“But at the end of the day, you depend on the performance on the pitch – it’s results, especially at the top.”