Lampard and Cole can leave, says Rafa leaving Chelsea old guard in tatters
23:31 GMT, 23 November 2012
Chelsea legends Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole are to leave at the end of the season after Rafa Benitez confirmed the break-up of the Champions League-winning team.
Both players are out of contract next summer and Chelsea’s new coach admitted they are unlikely to stay at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of the season.
Lampard, Chelsea’s third highest goalscorer ever, has won three Barclays Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the European Cup in his glittering 11-year spell.
Going: Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard (below) will be allowed to leave Chelsea
Cole, who joined from Arsenal in 2006, has won a Premier League title, four FA Cups and the Champions League during his spell at Stamford Bridge.
Asked directly if it was the end of a glorious era for the pair at Chelsea, Benitez said: ‘I think so, that is the case at the moment.
‘I am only here for seven months. If it is for two or three years then maybe I would have an influence.
‘Sometimes you are in a difficult position as manager because there’s too much to decide on, so it’s better to have a technical director sometimes.’
Benitez has been put in the picture by technical director Michael Emenalo and met owner Roman Abramovich for dinner on Thursday evening as Chelsea take a new direction.
He added: ‘I spent two or three hours with the owner, we talked about everything. He knows my ideas, but we didn’t have that much time together. Maybe we will in future.
‘If you have confidence in yourself and explain yourself, everyone can understand. My impression with the owner is he’s a nice person. You can talk with him and he understands. He likes to see you have a clear idea: I think it’s black and white with him.’
Abramovich is changing the team’s constitution after years of relying on powerful dressing-room influences such as Didier Drogba, Petr Cech, John Terry, Lampard and Cole.
Short term: Rafa Benitez still plans to use the players until their contracts are up
Cole already has interest from Paris
Saint-Germain and Manchester United. Lampard, 34, is also considering
other offers as he enters the final six months of his Chelsea career,
but had hoped to finish his playing days at Stamford Bridge. Benitez
still plans to use the pair in the short term as he attempts to
stabilise the club after another managerial departure.
Benitez, who is preparing for Sunday's match with Manchester City, was forced to respond on Friday after Sir Alex Ferguson described him as a ‘lucky’ manager. The pair fell out when Benitez almost won the Premier League title with Liverpool in 2009.
Jose Mourinho, who was manager of Inter Milan before Benitez succeeded him in 2010, was also sceptical.
But Benitez said: ‘If people push you and if you want to win, then maybe you have to push back. I like to respect people, but sometimes I can’t because they push you. I have to defend my team, my club. Some managers in the middle of the table can be friendly, but only one can win the trophy.’
On misfiring Fernando Torres, Benitez added: ‘If the striker is not scoring, the rest of the team have to create more chances for him. My idea isn’t just to improve Fernando, but the whole team.’
Not just Torres: Benitez wants to improve the whole team