After an 18-month break from the intensity of football, Frank Lampard speaks like he once played.
“I had a hard-work ethic, and I was given that by the football family I grew up in. My team, I want them to have that as a base. I want them to be aggressive; I want them to play good football, fast football.”
Calm and clinical, Lampard seems rejuvenated as he enters a personal unknown territory with the confidence that he has learned from the best in the game.
The Chelsea legend has swapped the penalty area for the technical area, taking up Derby’s offer to be their man to take them back to the Premier League, where Lampard truly believes they belong.
Lampard carried Chelsea at times, but with the help of John Terry, Didier Drogba, and a host of managers to take on both success and blame. He is now No 1, but his realism even at this early stage is a testament to his two decades of top-flight football.
“I am under no illusions, I know I will be judged on results, style of play,” he admits. With 46 games in 40 weeks, the judgement will come in thick and fast.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports ahead of Derby’s season opener against Reading on Friday, the 40-year-old talks candidly about his route into management, his reasons for choosing Derby, and what his style will be…
“I didn’t just wake up one day and realise, it was something I’d been interested in during my playing days. Football has always been in my life, I grew up into a footballing family and had a long career. Probably during my 20s I wasn’t too focused on what might happen afterwards, but into my 30s I certainly viewed things with a different eye. I tried to take in as much as I could under the managers I played under and the team-mates I played aside. When this opportunity came along, it was one I had to say yes to.”
“It was sold to me, and it wasn’t a hard sell because of the size of the club. I know the size of the stadium, the training facilities and infrastructure that has been set up here. I know that it has been 10 years outside of the Premier League, but when I actually first drove to Derby I was struck by the passion and intensity of the fan-base in this city, what it means to every fan here. It all added up. I took advice from everywhere that I could have done and it was a very quick answer for me.”
A glittering playing career
“After a big debate about ex-players getting jobs – the 21 years you play, similar to Steven Gerrard we both had long careers, do give you a certain standing and I don’t dispute that – at the same time we’ve worked very hard to be in a position to be offered these jobs. I am under no illusions; I know I will be judged on results, style of play. But going into it there is a lot to work with, and hopefully I can make a difference with how I approach it, not just myself but my staff, and how we get to where we want to be.”
“It’s who I am. In life you try to learn from every different situation. Managers I was close to, managers I was not so close to, things you agree with, things you didn’t, you try to take them in over the years. The important thing then is to be your own person. Rather than being a copy of any certain manager, I’ve tried to make my own personality, my own style of management, whilst drawing on those pieces. I will never stop learning, I go into it with certain ideas, I will try to improve and listen, take things in, but over my years of playing I have hopefully taken in a lot of information I can now use.”
“Hard-working, how I was as a player. I had a hard-work ethic, and I was given that by the football family I grew up in. My team, I want them to have that as a base. I want them to be aggressive, I want them to play good football, fast football, I don’t mean beautiful tiki-taka football, but I want there to be an energy in the team, where they play and excite the fans. I want energy, hard work and aggression.”
… and management style
“It’s a hard one. I haven’t had a camera on myself yet, I’m just being me in pre-season. I probably wouldn’t say I’m a jumper, or someone who runs up and down! But I will try to impact what I can on the pitch. If you are up and down getting communication to the players I’ll do that. You’ll have to see for yourself how I am, but I don’t think it’s in my nature to jump up and down too much!”
“It’s a difficult question. Of course promotion is the target, every club in the Championship has the same target. But we will go step-by-step. We want to maximise everything out of the team. The simple is: we want to finish as high as we can, we want to get promoted, because this is a Premier League club. We must start with those intentions, the players know that. We all want it together here, the staff, the whole building, want to get this club into the Premier League.”