The Making of Frank Lampard: Why the Derby Manager Can Be a Success

The Making of Frank Lampard: Why the Derby Manager Can Be a Success

Monday, 27 August, 2018 - 06:45
Derby County manager Frank Lampard. (Reuters)
London - Jacob Steinberg
Taken in isolation, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s description of Frank Lampard as a player without an awe-inspiring skill could be interpreted as an insult. When Hasselbaink thinks back to the youngster who joined him at Chelsea in 2001, he recalls a footballer with a good shot, decent technique and some pace. “He tackled all right,” the Dutchman says. “I think if you look at his abilities, there was nothing really outstanding.”

Hasselbaink, however, is in the middle of paying Lampard a glowing compliment. The point he wants to get across is how hard Derby County’s manager worked to become one of the finest footballers of his generation.

“Everything together made him an exceptional player,” the former Chelsea striker says. “He came from West Ham and we had some big names in the team but it didn’t faze him. He wanted to show he was worth the money. Mentally, he was one of the strongest players ever. Nothing really knocked him back. That will be a good asset for him as a manager. You have to have a thick skin.”

Tony Carr, West Ham’s former academy director, has similar memories of a kid with an iron will to succeed. “When challenges have come along, Frank has always risen to it and kicked on,” Carr says. “I’m sure he’ll take that trait into management. There’s lots he won’t be able to control when they’re out on the pitch but I’m sure his attitude will always help him.

“As a young player, he was a breath of fresh air. A lot of youngsters can be apathetic about training hard, being patient and working on their weaknesses. Frank was always looking for ways to improve, whether it was fitness or technical work, and as he got more senior the managers he played for allowed him to become more versed in the tactical side of the game.”

Carr bumped into Lampard a few weeks before his appointment by Derby and the meeting left him with an inkling his former student was ready to make the leap into management. Lampard spoke about completing his coaching badges and helping Jody Morris coach Chelsea’s under-18s. A few weeks later the 40-year-old was asking Morris to become his No. 2 at Derby, who had just missed out on promotion to the Premier League after losing their play-off semi-final to Fulham.

Hasselbaink, who has managed at Burton Albion, Queens Park Rangers and Northampton Town, believes Morris will be an important ally for Lampard. “I played with Jody and he had a lot of football intelligence,” he says. “He wanted to play in a continental way. He is astute, a student of the game and very single-minded on how football should be played.

“He has learned his trade at Chelsea, so it should be a good fit. They have played together and trust each other. That’s what you need as a manager: people who have your back and who can transmit your ideas to the players every day.”

One challenge for Lampard will be accepting Derby’s players may not possess his talent. Hasselbaink knows there will have to be compromises at times. “But I can see him succeeding because he is calm and knows what he wants. He will not sit back and wait for it to come to him. He will go and get it. He has played under a lot of great managers, so tactically he has learned a lot. It is about how he will communicate that to his players now.

“You see managers struggle to accept players with lesser ability. They might not have the patience and struggle to understand why a player can’t do something. But Frank is a smart guy who thinks things through. He will know what to expect.

“When you become a manager, you go from being a student to a teacher. You have to think about everything: the players, the fans, the board, your staff and then you have to combine it all. You don’t turn up at 9.30am, train at 10.30am and go home at 1pm.

“You turn up at 7am, make sure training is prepared, take the training. Then you assess what has gone right and wrong. Then it’s about planning for the next day. Before you know it, it’s the end of the day. It’s totally different. But he won’t go into this with his eyes closed, he’ll be fine.”

Lampard will be expected to challenge for promotion despite his inexperience. He has taken a risk in his first job. “But why not go where you have the opportunity to go for promotion?” Hasselbaink says. “That’s the kind of animal he is – he needs that edge, that feeling that he’s playing for something. The pressure won’t trouble him.”

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