ISTANBUL – Them again. In his previous life as a Chelsea player, Frank Lampard faced up to Liverpool 39 times, and those fixtures helped define his legacy.
Lampard saw it all in those games.
Agony and ecstasy in Champions League semi-finals, delirium in domestic cup finals and simmering fury in the Premier League.
Liverpool were always around at the biggest moments. Fitting, then, that they have appeared so early in his managerial career.
It is impossible to compare collisions from different generations but as Lampard arrived in the broiling heat of Istanbul yesterday, he will know that few dates with Liverpool have come with the potential for such lasting repercussions.
Win inside Vodafone Park, the home of Besiktas, and Lampard will find that his reign at Stamford Bridge has lift-off.
Victory in the first all-English European Super Cup final would be significant and, as he pointed out, have lasting implications.
“I want to win,” said Lampard. “I really want to win. If you can win a European trophy against Liverpool, your name goes down in history.”
Very true. This Liverpool side, however, is different to the one with whom he used to trade blows.
Jurgen Klopp’s Champions League winners have the potential to inflict maximum damage. Coming on the back of Sunday’s 4-0 defeat at Old Trafford, Lampard does not need to endure a night of punishment ahead of a tussle with Leicester on Saturday that is fraught with problems.
You could understand, therefore, why he was so eager to point out how much this contest means.
“I know first-hand, because we lost two of these finals,” said Lampard, referencing the defeats to Atletico Madrid (2012) and Bayern Munich (2013).
“When you work hard to get into this game between two champions, it is important that at a club like Chelsea, we give everything to win it.
“It means something to us as a club because it is another trophy. It also would be a nice start personally. More than that, it would be a good feeling for the players that we can compete with Liverpool with the season coming up. We understand the importance.
“I don’t want to give the squad or a young player the ultimatum that if we don’t win, then that’s the winning mentality gone. It’s not.
“I lost semi-finals, finals and really big games with a really good squad. The big picture is how we work together to become a team.
“I mentioned Eden Hazard leaving, the transfer ban and we need to be clear because of the situation we are in. We need a fresh start.
“Yes, we need to have a winning mentality, but it’s also about working hard every day to get it. This will be a great start towards that.”
Lampard, clearly, feels some of the things that were said about his team after losing to Manchester United were unfair.
He will have taken some solace to hear Klopp, Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane all say at varying times during Liverpool media duties that 4-0 was a harsh score-line.
Klopp has a lot of time for Lampard, based on how he handled Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson at Derby last season, and the German wants to see him do well – but only after they return home from Turkey.
Chelsea’s thirst for silverware is certainly replicated in Klopp’s camp.
Istanbul will forever be special to Liverpool, thanks to that unforgettable May night in 2005, but Klopp wants it be special again.
Europe offers Liverpool the best chance of success once more, and it is not lost on their manager that the Champions League final is here next year.
“No one will ever forget Istanbul, which is good,” said Klopp. “But we are different people, we are now in the team 2019-20, and that is a pretty good one as well.
“I hope we can make this a special place for ourselves. Last season, we won something, we celebrated it, and now let’s carry on.
“Frank did an outstanding job at Derby last year and was unlucky not to get promoted. Now he is at Chelsea, his club, everything is fresh.
“Everybody is ready and on their toes. But we are here, too, everything is prepared. So, let’s go.”Daily Mail