Lampard still a ‘key player’ for Chelsea, insists Villas-Boas
Manager says decision to substitute midfielder during Sunday's defeat at Old Trafford was purely tactical
Chelsea boss André Villas-Boas insists Frank Lampard is still one of the Blues’ most important players – despite substituting the midfielder at half-time during Sunday’s 3-1 defeat by Manchester United.
Lampard was replaced by Nicolas Anelka at the break after the visitors found themselves 3-0 down at Old Trafford, but Villas-Boas says the move to take the 33-year-old off was purely tactical.
“This was a decision that we had to make bearing in mind the result at half-time. It was an attacking substitution,” said Villas-Boas on Tuesday.
“It was not because Lamps was playing badly because he wasn’t. He had quite an impact in the game and he recovered a couple of important balls in our midfield and he had a couple of shots.
“[It was] nothing based on his display because his display at Old Trafford was good. It was just something that we had to do during the game to adapt the team to a more attacking style – not that Frank doesn’t give an attacking style because he does and has proven it in his career.
The Chelsea manager added: “Frank is a fantastic player and he will be one of our key players for the rest of the season.”
Villas-Boas, whose last defeat in a league game came 17 months ago, also hit out at the officials’ performance during Sunday’s clash.
Replays showed United’s first two goals should have been disallowed as both scorers had been offside, and the Chelsea boss has already complained to referees’ chief Mike Riley over the decisions.
“Very, very unhappy with the poor performance from the referees which in the end had a decisive role in the result,” continued Villas-Boas.
“I don’t take it lightly because it’s on those two first goals – and two goals at Old Trafford before half-time plays an important part.
“You expect the linesman to do his job. I already went further ahead with the situation by speaking to the correct people. We all feel very, very down when the referee has such an impact on the result.”