Lampard rejects Ajax comparisons, laughs off suggestion Chelsea are 'scared'
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has played down comparisons between his team and Ajax, despite his emphasis on giving youth a chance.
After taking up the reins at his former club this summer, the ex-England midfielder has given the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori a chance to shine in the first team.
Ajax reached the semi-finals of the Champions League last term with a squad built around their own academy products and though Lampard is looking to take inspiration from the Dutch side's exploits, he feels comparisons are premature as the two sides prepare to meet.
"We've got a long way to go to claim the similarities but I think pride in the short term, yes," he said at his press conference.
"Because we shouldn't get carried away with ourselves, it's great we have a good feeling at the club, in terms of the young players that have come through.
“I think it's long-deserved recognition for the academy itself and those players as well. But we are at a place here that is steeped in history of bringing young players through, creating great teams with groups of young players over the years.
“We have a long way to go to do that. But in the short term I'm certainly happy and we need to continue working so that they continue their development, the young players.
“I aim to give them confidence because I believe in them. What Ajax did last year was incredible: to get as far as they did with such a young team.
“With us, I think you see my belief in them because even though everyone says we had a transfer ban and it’s the only option I have, that’s not true. I have lots of options in the squad and I make the options on the players I feel should play.
“The young players have shown it and I believe in them. That’s a good thing. But we mustn’t get carried away with thinking that’s the end of the story. It’s a nice story until now but success in the longer term is what we have to work for.
“I keep saying it is just the beginning of the road but I feel like by having belief in them, they can feel that back, which is good. I also need to be strong in driving them to get better all the time.”
Meanwhile there was a comical moment in the press conference when Lampard was asked why he was afraid of Ajax, having spoken about them at length after the weekend's win over Newcastle.