Frank Lampard has praised Christian Pulisic and says he never doubted the USMNT star.
Pulisic, 22, jumped off the bench late on at Krasnodar on Wednesday with Chelsea leading 1-0 and within a few minutes he won a penalty kick to make it 2-0, was involved in the goal that made it 3-0 and then scored himself to make it 4-0.
Talk about a super sub.
There has been constant talk in USMNT circles that Lampard never really trusted Pulisic at the start of his Chelsea career last season, as RB Salzburg manager, American Jesse Marsch, questioned Lampard’s treatment of Christian Pulisic.
“Even Frank Lampard, when I spoke to him in preseason a year ago now, I was talking to him about having Christian Pulisic and he was kind of like, ‘Yeah, he’s got a lot to learn so we’ll see how he does.’ I said to him, ‘Listen, he was at Dortmund, and they had a high level of tactical thinking, of playing, and he was very successful,'” Marsch told MLSSoccer.com’s ExtraTime Radio.
“I could see right away that Frank Lampard’s idea of Christian Pulisic was shaped a lot by the fact that he was American and not that his football education came a lot from what has happened in Germany. Since then, I think Lampard has learned that Pulisic is a lot better than he gave him credit for.”
Lampard dismissed that notion when talking ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Burnley on Saturday (watch live, 11am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
“I did read those comments and I was surprised Jesse was able to read my mind as well as he thought he did, he’s recounted the conversation wrong,” Lampard said. “I have to put it correct because it was a game against Salzburg, we played them and Christian scored two goals in preseason, fair enough Jesse came up to me and said what a talented played Christian was, which I knew and agreed with and I spoke about the fact he was exciting to see how he could develop for us with the talent that he has. That was the conversation. Jesse managed to put it across slightly differently.”
“He found his feet very quickly and had a breakthrough season in the Premier League where he produced more goals and assists than he’s ever produced. His performance last year was massively impressive on his own. He will get better and better because he’s a young player and I never doubted Christian,” Lampard said. “That is not me jumping on Jesse, because I think there is a bigger issue there with American players, I will let him field that one himself. But as a manager I never doubted Christian and it is important for me to put that straight, more for Christian than anything.”
A follow-up question then asked Lampard about respect for American players, and he pointed to his time playing at New York City FC in MLS and said he has huge respect for U.S. players and managers.
“I played in America for 18 months and I would never underestimate the desire that American players have to learn, improve and take on information and understand the technical side of the game,” Lampard said. “Some of the greatest players in the Premier League history whether they came from America, or Europe, or anywhere else in the world have felt that.”
Lampard was then asked about whether Pulisic will play against Burnley on Saturday considering he did score a hat trick at Turf Moor against the Clarets last season in a breakout moment in his Chelsea career.
“I’m aware of it but I don’t always factor in games from last season. Christian played a lot of good games last season and he is an important player for us,” Lampard said. “He came on last night and we saw his qualities and it was important he had some rest last night because he’s played three games in a week since he came back from injury,” Lampard said.
So, Pulisic is clearly finding his feet after returning from injury and it would be a big shock if he isn’t included in Chelsea’s starting lineup for the game at Burnley on Saturday.