Frank Lampard believes José Mourinho's anticipated reappointment as manager this summer will restore Chelsea as a "consistent force" and enable the club to challenge for the Premier League title next season.
The England midfielder captained the team to Europa League success against Benfica in Amsterdam on Wednesday and followed that by signing a one-year contract. Lampard, who turns 35 next month, admitted there was a period at the turn of the year when he feared his 12-year association with the club was to be severed but he has agreed a contract believed to be worth in the region of £120,000 a week.
Chelsea hope to announce the identity of their manager in mid-June with talks continuing with Real Madrid to secure Mourinho's release from his contract as all parties seek a change. The Portuguese's probable return apparently played no part in Lampard's contract negotiations though, sensing his former mentor's imminent restoration to the dug-out, the midfielder believes the side can recover some of the relentless consistency of old and compete for a first league title since 2010.
"If José comes back it will be a huge lift for the club," said Lampard, who was attending an Adidas event at Stamford Bridge to celebrate his club record of 203 goals. "It's no secret he's an idol for the fans. He's the greatest manager in our history and he changed the whole belief of the club and made us into a winning club.
"It will lift the fans, and I know it will lift the players. Those who haven't worked with him before will understand he'll come in and give them an extra edge. Hopefully that will take us back to being that consistent force.
"We've got a great squad and can do better than we did at times this season. I'm talking about consistency, in the Premier League, which has not been good enough in the last two years. We have to address that, and it gets harder every year. Manchester United and Manchester City have raised the bar but we are all in a different situation this year with the various changes of manager.
"We concentrate on ourselves and I believe we have the strength in our squad to do it. But we need to get back to that battering ram, winning mentality we had before, winning games 1-0 even when we weren't at our best.
"It's a bit like a magic recipe and a lot of mental work goes into that. You have to be able to grind out results, having that togetherness and structure in the team. Everyone has bad periods in games or seasons but that's when you close ranks. Too many times over the last few years we've had a bad month which has seen us drop down. That's what we need to put right.
"Under José we were criticised for being so dogged, but we need to get back to a bit of that. It doesn't mean taking away the beautiful football but you need a balance. It's a huge priority to be challenging for the title next season, as well as to get through the Champions League group stage. It'll be a big task but it'll be our main one."
The new manager will be offered clout to compete in the transfer market and bolster a squad who will end up playing 69 games this season and, if Everton are beaten on Sunday in the final round of fixtures, will add a third-place finish in the Premier League to their success in the Europa League.
The interim manager Rafael Benítez, who is under contract until the end of June and will oversee next week's tour of the United States, has indicated he expects the club to spend €100m (£85m) on new recruits. "They will sign three or four players," he said. "The foundation is already there. The future is bright for them."
The Bayer Leverkusen forward André Schürrle is expected to complete a £20m move to Chelsea next month, with interest also retained in Everton's Marouane Fellaini and the Corinthians midfielder Paulinho.
Another striker will be added to the ranks and, while Radamel Falcao is close to joining Monaco from Atlético Madrid, Chelsea will compete for Napoli's Edinson Cavani and Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski, despite the latter's likely move to Bayern Munich.Lampard, who is a candidate to captain England against the Republic of Ireland later this month and has 17 goals this season, hopes to play his own part in that strengthened side next term having expressed relief at securing his future for a further season. The midfielder had spoken with Chelsea's technical director, Michael Emenalo, at the Club World Cup in Japan last December to seek clarification and, when it was suggested no offer was on the table, considered his options with tentative interest expressed by such as Arsenal and Manchester United, and most persuasively by Los Angeles Galaxy.
"There was a time when I thought I might have to move on," he said. "I'd been injured through November and the club were looking to move forward. I understand that. It was up to me to get my head down and show I wanted to stay. But leaving was certainly a consideration at that time.
"There were a few different things and I had to make sure what was right for me because there were several other routes I could've gone down, and I had to look at them. But everyone knows my first choice was to stay. When you look at the big picture, who wouldn't want to stay here? I'm excited to be part of the future."
Frank Lampard appeared at a 3D installation commissioned by Adidas to showcase his 203 club goal record. To join the conversation and to see more from Frank on his favourite goalscoring memories follow @adidasUK £superfrank
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