Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard hit back at Jose Mourinho after criticism of his team selection for the 4-0 loss to Manchester United.
Lampard’s first competitive game at the helm of the Premier League club ended in a comprehensive loss at Old Trafford, where Marcus Rashford scored a brace to go with goals from Anthony Martial and Daniel James on Sunday.
Working for Sky Sports, former Chelsea boss Mourinho criticised Lampard’s selection, saying more experienced players like N’Golo Kante, Marcos Alonso and Olivier Giroud should have started, while questioning the performances of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Andreas Christensen.
Lampard seemed surprised by Mourinho’s comments, saying injuries had an impact on selection in his side’s season opener.
“He didn’t like the performance of Mason Mount? Is that what he said? Did he? Wow,” he told a news conference.
“Well, I can’t drag players out of the medical room to play if they are experienced or not, so these are the players that played in a game that we were clearly the better team for 45-60 minutes.
“What was evident that we made individual errors that led to four goals out of their five shots. So there’s the harsh reality for us.
“I don’t have to be too concerned about what anyone else says, pundit-wise or anyone, they have to speak. At the same time, what’s clear is the squad is what we’ve got and I believe in it.
“If we go in at half-time 2-1 or 3-1 up, as we probably should have done if we were more clinical and maybe had a stroke of luck here and there, the game would’ve been completely different.”
Giroud and Kante were both introduced off the bench, while Christian Pulisic also came on for his Premier League debut in the second half.
Lampard explained his decision not to start the United States international, who arrived in the close season after being signed from Borussia Dortmund in January for a reported £58million (€62.3m).
“Christian Pulisic is 20 years old. He will be a fantastic player for the club. He has got great ability. You saw little moments with his acceleration on the ball,” he said.
“But I have also got other options in midfield and in those areas, and I don’t want to stick Christian straight into the fire without trying to help him along the way. It was one of those games where I felt it was better to start with Ross [Barkley] and Mason, who have been very strong in pre-season, and bring Christian on.
“If the game had carried on at 1-0, or we were back in the game as we should have been, he would have been a great injection. In the end it was difficult for him because the game went quickly away from us.”