FRANK Lampard was left with a lump in his throat after Chelsea fans left little doubt who they would back in his dispute with Andre Villas-Boas.
Lampard admitted for the first time yesterday that his relationship with Blues boss Villas-Boas had "not been ideal", amid feverish speculation of a falling out between the pair.
Star midfielder Lampard did not want to dwell on any problems they might have had but, should their relationship not improve, it appears there would be only one winner in the battle for hearts and minds.
Even before Lampard made three separate bits of history by scoring his 12th goal of the season in yesterday's desperately needed 3-0 Barclays Premier League win over Bolton, his was the name on the lips of the Stamford Bridge crowd.
"Super Frankie Lampard", they sang about the man who repaid their adulation with the 150th league goal of his career and his 125th in the league for Chelsea - taking him ahead of the legendary Jimmy Greaves.
Perhaps more significantly, the 33-year-old became the first player to reach double figures in the Premier League for nine consecutive seasons.
It was also the fourth time this term Lampard had scored after being dropped by Villas-Boas and he said: "I just want to play and the way the fans were with me was amazing.
"It's lump-in-the-throat stuff when they sing your name like that.
"When I play and I can play, I know I can contribute but the main importance is Chelsea.
"The fans have stuck with us brilliantly.
"It's been a tough old season.
"These fans here, I think they've been through and seen a lot back in the old days.
"So they're always very keen to stay with their players and I can only thank them for that."
Lampard also laid on a landmark goal for Didier Drogba, who moved ahead of Roy Bentley to become Chelsea's fourth highest goalscorer behind his team-mate, who is now just 20 off Bobby Tambling's all-time record of 202.
Yesterday's win - a first in six attempts - helped ease the pressure on Villas-Boas in front of the watching Roman Abramovich.
But Lampard insisted reclaiming a top-four spot would mean nothing if Chelsea did not stay there.
"There have been a lot of times this season where we've said, 'Right, let's turn the corner now'," he said.
"It can't be a false dawn. We need to carry on.
"Our league form is imperative now, because a club like Chelsea has to stay in the top four.
"We know we can go on a really strong run of wins but we have to do it."
He added, tellingly: "When you play, you can actually do something that can make a bit of a difference."
Villas-Boas once again refused to guarantee Lampard a regular starting berth but agreed Chelsea had to back up yesterday's win with a run of victories in all competitions.
"The most important thing for us is to build from this day onwards, solve the FA Cup tie and solve the Champions League tie and improve our position in the league," he said.
"For it to mean a start, we need to get this form right and be competent against West Brom, Birmingham, Stoke, Napoli."
Villas-Boas also insisted there were no circumstances under which he would send Fernando Torres out on loan ahead of the European Championships after the striker was dropped from the Spain squad.
Torres came off the bench to extend his goalless run to 21 games but even he looked more likely to score than a Bolton side who remained rooted to second-bottom spot in the table.
Manager Owen Coyle admitted his side had blown a chance to take advantage of Chelsea's recent miserable form, saying: "I think there's an opportunity every week, regardless who you're playing, but there's no getting away from it."
He added of the speculation over Villas-Boas' position: "Everybody looks at the elite clubs, that they should be winning trophies every year and, if they're not then it's a major story."