Ross Barkley’s dropped chips will not go down among the worst examples of footballers and social misconduct, but it did prompt Frank Lampard to address the folly of youth as Chelsea prepared for a key European away fixture.
‘He hasn’t broken a club code,’ said Lampard, arriving in Lille as camera-phone footage of Barkley’s late-night row with a taxi driver in Liverpool on Sunday circulated online. ‘The lads were given a day off.
He doesn’t need permission to be in Liverpool. And he hasn’t committed a crime other than eating chips in the back of a cab, which is probably a bit out of order for the cabbie, but what he has done is be naive to be out on that evening in the build-up to a Champions League game.
On a professional level, those are things that shouldn’t happen. ‘I like Ross. I’ve had absolutely no problem with him since he has been here. ‘He works hard and wants to do well for this club. He admitted to making a mistake. I will take that at face value and we move on.’ It would have been easy for Lampard to shut down the incident. It is largely insignificant, especially when compared to what happened at Derby last week.
Two of their players have been charged with drink-driving following a car crash after a club-sanctioned night out which left club captain Richard Keogh fighting to save his career.
Instead, the Chelsea manager was keen to educate his young players in the importance of responsibility. If they can handle the pitfalls of modern life off the pitch, they are more likely to mature as competitors. ‘I made mistakes as a player,’ said Lampard. ‘Don’t we all? We have a good bunch at this club, they’re really good lads. I have confidence in them.
They are professional lads who want to do their best for this club. ‘They must take on their responsibilities off the pitch. They live in a day where there are many benefits to them in terms of their careers but there are many difficulties that come with that.
‘I don’t know why but people have to pick up their phone at first glance and try to video people in any moment they think might be interesting to sell or pass on.’ Barkley, 25, travelled with the squad to Lille. This Champions League campaign did not start well for him on the pitch when he missed a penalty in a defeat against Valencia having demanded to take it ahead of Jorginho or Willian.