When he runs out at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, Ross Barkley is likely to get abuse from those Everton fans who once adored him, but the Chelsea and England midfielder is unlikely to do an ‘Eric Dier’ according to his manager Frank Lampard.
Dier ran into the stands at Tottenham on Wednesday to confront a supporter who was involved in an altercation with his brother, and may face an FA charge.
But Lampard, who learned to deal with abuse from fans of his former club West Ham, says Barkley would not react in the same way.
Ross Barkley should not be fazed by any abuse from Everton fans, says Frank Lampard
The 26-year-old was abused by Everton supporters the last time he faced the club who sold him to Chelsea for £15m two years ago, but Lampard says he has learned to handle it.
‘I think he’ll handle it very well,’ said Lampard. ‘Ross has been away from Everton for a couple of years now, and in the life that footballers live, when you face your old club you are going to get abuse.
‘I’m not coming down on the fans here. There is abuse and there is typical behaviour of a fan who might give some light-hearted sort of reaction to a player who played for them. I get that.’
Lampard believes the best response is to show your skill. ‘The rules are always same. The best answer is take as little of it (abuse) as possible and actually show what you can do on the pitch. That’s what Ross needs to do.’
The manager appreciates that some players thrive on abuse, while others are adversely affected.
Barkley came through the youth system at Goodison Park before leaving for Stamford Bridge
‘I’d like to think he’s somewhere in the middle. What I do know with Ross is he’s a really good-natured lad who really wants to do well in his job. He’s very close to his family, who obviously have roots in Everton where’s he’s from. So I think he sits somewhere in the middle.
‘I don’t think he’ll have a crazy reaction and revel in it because I don’t think he’s the type. But he’s determined, and will want to do well against his old team.’
Lampard admits he used to get wound up by those West Ham fans who let him know they felt betrayed when he moved across London to Chelsea in 2001. ‘In the early years, playing West Ham fired me up too much but after a couple of years, when I’d settled down, it was just something that fired me up in a good way and made me pretty determined.
‘I actually liked getting fired up and the challenge of going up against them. Your personality dictates that quite a bit and I’m pretty confident that Ross will handle it a very good way.’
Barkley is a key player for Chelsea now that Mateo Kovacic has joined a lengthy injury list at the club, particularly in midfield. He scored a spectacular goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat of Liverpool on Tuesday in the FA Cup, and Lampard wants to see more of the same.
Barkley scored a sensational solo goal for the Blues in their FA Cup victory over Liverpool
‘I know he wants to be a goalscoring midfielder, and I think Ross’ aim is to get more minutes, play more often to get the consistency to do what he did the other night against Liverpool.
‘It’s clearly in his powers to do that. His shooting with right and left foot is as good technically as I’ve seen on the training pitch. He also has the the skill and ability to go past someone in advanced areas of midfield. That’s well within his range.’
Barkley has been dogged by injuries in the past three years, but Lampard says he should forget about them. ‘He shouldn’t get too caught up in where he’s been, where he’s at and where he may be – other than to train well every day, which is what he’s doing at minute.’
The manager understands Barkley struggled when he was out of form earlier this season. ‘Ross would probably look at himself and say he could have been doing better. Injuries played a part in a lengthy layoff. He does need confidence as a player.
‘But Ross has taken that on in the most positive way possible. He has worked hard, he’s got his nose in the team. He can be a really good player for us. He can can run, tackle, he can do a lot of things. He’s got all that.
‘To give him more minutes is always going to help with his confidence. And if he plays like he did against Liverpool and Tottenham recently, then he’s a big player for this club. I’ve been pleased to see his recent performances.
Lampard says Barkley needs to do his talking with the ball when they play Everton on Sunday
Barkley was compared with Paul Gascoigne when he broke into the Everton team as a teenager, and Lampard says it must have been tough to deal with. ‘I never had that, piles of pressure at 18. That’s not easy for anybody to have that in this league because it’s so tough.
‘It’s easy to make those early conclusions on players without knowing there is a long route to go. Everyone’s path is different. What Ross can say is that he’s moved on from Everton and come to Chelsea, which is a big club. If he’s playing games here at a big club then that’s a success.’
And Barkley is part of Gareth Southgate’s plans with Euro 2020 only three months away, and has featured regularly for England recently. ‘But I know he’ll want more,’ said Lampard.
‘He might be wishing he has had more minutes by now and made more of an impact here at Chelsea. Some of that is through competition for places and through injury at different times.
‘The reality is there’s no point looking back at that. He can do that when’s 34 or 35. I think right now that Ross has got a lot to offer.’