Chelsea manager, Frank Lampard has warned his side that they may not be so lucky in the final day of the Premier League to produce a “sliding doors moment” as it was in 2003.
The blues will have to secure at least a point against Wolves on Sunday to secure a top-four finish and a return to the Champions League next term.
The Blues were in the same situation 17 years ago, when they had to take a point from Liverpool’s visit to Stamford Bridge on the last day to avoid being beaten to fourth place by the Reds.
Lampard started that match, which ended in a 2-1 victory for Chelsea after goals from Marcel Desailly and Jesper Gronkjaer overturned Sami Hyypia’s opener, but he does not feel too many parallels can be drawn due to their change in circumstances.
Chelsea were on the brink of going into administration at that point, with Roman Abramovich’s takeover only completed two months later.
“It was the first time in my career that I felt tension at that level because of what was at stake,” said Lampard.
“It was made clear to us in the club if we didn’t win that game against Liverpool and qualify for the Champions League the club would’ve gone in a very different direction. And the direction we’ve seen it go is incredible, with Roman Abramovich coming through the door.
“I remember the build-up and the feeling and after that I had many more feelings that kind of reached that in different ways.
“I’m not sure we should quite relate that feeling to now at Chelsea, it was a huge almost sliding doors moment, now we’re in a different place. If we make it into the Champions League, I get financially it’s a big deal for us, but I still think we are a club that will look to push on and move forward next year and onwards.
“What’s driving us is we work all year, myself and the staff and all the players, to try to be successful. I think if we can nail down top four and get the right result on Sunday, we can look and say it’s been a really positive step and now we want to move forward.”
Wolves were unable to maintain a Champions League push of their own following the restart in June but sit sixth, which will be enough to qualify for the Europa League for a second straight season.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have a Europa League last-16 meeting with Olympiacos to look forward to on August 6, with Saturday marking a year since their first game in the 2019-20 edition of the competition.
“It’s a huge achievement and in a way I’m not surprised. They’ve got an incredible manager and shown huge faith in him,” Lampard said.
“From the moment Nuno has come in it’s been an upward curve which has been so impressive. But also it’s the players, they have a great way of playing the game and the longevity can be given solely as credit to the staff and players as how they’ve managed themselves through the year.
“There’s not much to say on that, it’s a great story but let’s not patronise Wolves because they deserve to be in and around the story for the Champions League.
“They won’t quite make that I know, they’ll want to be in the Europa League next year, they’ll want to be successful again and deserve to be where they’re at.”