BY PAUL LAGAN
Mateo Kovacic is a lot happier at SW6 than he was last season and that was reflected in his man of the match performance in the away win at Norwich City on Saturday.
The Croatian midfielder said of the 3-2 win: “It was important we got the three points because we needed them. I think the team showed great character and it is important to now continue like that.”
With the arrival of Frank Lampard as head coach, Kovacic confirms that his role has changed slightly from that demanded by former boss Maurizio Sarri last season.
“He gives me more freedom,” he said. “To play more creativity. We can change positions.
“I can take the ball and go forward. I feel good. I am a Chelsea player now so I feel better about that. Last year I was only a loan [from Real Madrid]. I feel better and more confident than last year.
“We are aggressive. We are doing well but it is only one month with the coach so we can improve.
“Last season I also had a good connection with the coach. It was also a good year. The connection now is good. The fans love Lampard and so do the players. He is young and he understands us.
“But the first win is really
important because I think we started [the season] very well, in terms of playing. The results were not perfect but we played well. At Norwich, we needed the three points more than a beautiful game. We did well and we won.
“Everything was perfect.”
So what is the difference between a loan deal and being permanent – it’s a mental thing, apparently.
He said: “It makes me feel more relaxed as last year [it] was difficult and I needed to prove myself.
“Last year was also good, not perfect.
“This year I started well and I hope to continue like that. I am missing some part of my game and I can improve and get better, but I think it will come
Kovacic is enjoying working with mobile striker Tammy Abraham.
“It comes naturally,” he said.
“Tammy is a great player with great movements. He is still young and he can improve a lot.
“I think the whole team is doing quite well in these first games. We have a good connection and I think we can only get better from now on.
“I think he knows where he needs to go. As a striker, sometimes he needs to go long and sometimes he need come short. So he already knows what to do. I can’t teach him much because I am not a striker or a great goalscorer.
I think Tammy is doing well and he will improve this year for sure. Every game is important, every goal he scores is important. I think, in particular, it was important that he scored against Norwich.
“He will be more confident and for sure he will score more goals.”