Chelsea boss Frank Lampard believes his Manchester United counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been harshly criticised.
Solskjaer won plenty of plaudits for his record-breaking start at United by winning 14 of his first 17 matches in charge. It prompted the club board to name him as Jose Mourinho’s permanent successor in March.
Soon after winning the full-time manager’s job, however, Solskjaer suffered six defeats and just two wins in United’s final 10 games of last season.
The Red Devils went crashing out of the Champions League and FA Cup quarter-finals. Worst of all, perhaps, was their sixth-place Premier League finish, which saw them finish 32 points behind winners Manchester City.
Unsurprisingly, this led critics to question United’s decision to appoint Solskjaer on a full-time basis.
But Lampard, who will take on Solskjaer for his first league match as Chelsea manager on Sunday, defended the Norwegian.
“I am aware of it and it comes with the territory,” said Lampard, according to the42.
“It can be excessive, for everyone in football. I think it is possibly harsh as it is something that he came in to.
“You have to look at him this season and what he gets to do. I don’t listen too much to things.”
Chances of a Premier League title during Lampard’s first season in charge of Chelsea have already been written off by critics.
The Blues’ two-window transfer ban and loss of star man Eden Hazard to Real Madrid has led many to tip them to struggle.
But Lampard has welcomed the talk and aims to prove everyone wrong by beating Solskjaer’s United at Old Trafford.
“I love hearing predictions when we’re not in the top four and there isn’t anything better than proving people wrong,” said the 41-year-old.
“I love playing at Old Trafford. It is a big game for both teams. We are both huge clubs that have had a lot of success.
“We both have the same idea that we want to be successful.”
The three-time Premier League winner even refuses to rule out a title challenge for the Blues. His bold statement comes despite the club finishing 26 points behind champions City last season.
“Manchester City and Liverpool showed there was a gap, everyone has to make it up,” continued Lampard.
“We will aim to win and of course we want to be in the Champions League every year. We are realistic and we just have to work our hardest.
“The gap [is bridgeable] because this is football. One of the beauties is that you start again fresh.”