LONDON • After just 40 days into his reign at Chelsea, Frank Lampard could be lifting the first trophy of his managerial career tonight.
No wonder then that he has challenged his players to "give it everything" in their Uefa Super Cup clash with Liverpool.
"We need to be absolutely ready," Lampard, twice a losing finalist in the competition as a Blues player in 2012 and 2013, told Uefa.com. "It's a Cup that the club desperately wants to win. I've never won it, a lot of players in there have never won it, so we have to give it everything."
The London club secured their place in Istanbul thanks to their comprehensive 4-1 victory over Arsenal in May's Europa League final, but much has changed since then.
Coach Maurizio Sarri and star player Eden Hazard have left while the 41-year-old Lampard was handed the reins at Stamford Bridge despite just one season's managerial experience in the English second tier with Derby County.
Unsurprisingly, Chelsea will start as underdogs against the European champions but that matters little to the Blues boss.
"Going up against a team with the quality of Liverpool in a final is as tense as finals can be," he said.
"You can lose finals; they're very tough. But what you cannot do is lose it on the premise that we weren't prepared, or we didn't have that hunger or desire or everything you need to try and win a game of this magnitude."
Lampard's first competitive outing as Blues boss was against a "Big Six" side, Manchester United, and that ended in a humbling 4-0 defeat in the Premier League on Sunday.
Among his critics was former mentor Jose Mourinho, who claimed the coach erred in picking inexperienced youngsters Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount.
The new central defensive pairing of Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen also looked suspect at Old Trafford and last season's stalwart Antonio Rudiger was drafted into the 23-player squad that flew to Turkey, despite the defender still recovering from a knee injury.
But Lampard said he would continue to play the club's young players despite Mourinho's remarks.
"I pick the best team to win the game, regardless of age," he said at his pre-match press conference yesterday. "If young players are showing what they can do in training and deserve their chance... I will have no fears to play young players because it's important for a club like Chelsea that we do that."
He also urged the club to move on from Hazard's exit, insisting that the team can thrive as a collective, just as they did after the departure of other club favourites.
"You can't replace him individually, because of the high level he is at now. But the good news... is that we have a group of players... that can step up. The answer is that as a team we have to find a way to carry on. Hazard, (John) Terry, (Didier) Drogba, move on."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS