Frank Lampard reminded Chelsea fans of Manchester United and Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the Champions League after the Blues were knocked out by Real Madrid. Chelsea faced an uphill battle to progress to the semi-finals after losing the first leg at the Bernabeu 2-0 and were downed by the same scoreline in the return leg at Stamford Bridge. With Chelsea currently 11th in the Premier League and closer to the relegation zone than the top-four, the club will have to make do without European football next season.

Lampard has lost four games in a row since returning to west London as caretaker manager but believes he can still ‘set the building blocks’ for success next term. He admitted no team has a ‘divine right’ to play in the Champions League, referencing Manchester United and Arsenal’s absence from the competition. Both United and Arsenal have spent several years out of the Champions League over the past decade, though both clubs will almost certainly return to the pinnacle of European football next season.

When asked if he was confident Chelsea’s absence from the Champions League would be short-lived, Lampard said: ‘I think the way that the Premier League is moving so fast, the landscape changes. To say that any given team has this divine right to be in the top-four and in the Champions League, it’s tough. Manchester United have spent time out of the Champions League, Arsenal have spent time out of the Champions League. Lots of big clubs have.’

He added: ‘In this moment, to try and predict what is going to happen going forward – will it be good or bad – is pretty pointless. But I do think we can set the building blocks now to where we want to get to. I’m here for a reason, obviously, because this season being what it is and this role that I’m in. Can I affect it in this period? Hopefully, yeah, but the bigger thing for the club will be that we want to get back to where we were. But the challenge is big.’

Lampard also said his team have plenty to play for in the Premier League run-in despite being knocked out of the Champions League. ‘I just see it as a chance to work here every day which is a pleasure for me because of my link to the club,’ he said. ‘I enjoy that side. I don’t like losing games. I came into a team low on confidence, losing a lot of games, we haven’t had time to work. We now get a little period to work.’

The former England midfielder concluded by saying people may write off Chelsea’s season if they finish eighth or twelfth, but he believes there is still a chance to raise performance levels. Chelsea, who have had three different managers this season, return to action next Wednesday against west London rivals Brentford.

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