The transition from being a footballer (especially a true superstar) to the role of a manager is not easy, and it can take time before an individual is truly ready to make a significant impact. For Frank Lampard, he is now set to begin that journey with Derby County in his first coaching job.
Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer signed a three-year deal to lead the Rams and will be tasked with getting the club back to the Premier League. Talent is certainly present, as Derby finished sixth in the Championship before elimination in the playoffs at the hands of Fulham.
Cameron Jerome and Matej Vydra were excellent in 2017-18, and Lampard must find a way to build off that success. The 39-year-old may not yet have any management experience, but Derby are convinced that his accomplishments on the pitch as a player can translate to success.
Lampard captured three Premier League titles and a Champions League crown during his time at Stamford Bridge, and that is something that will excite fans of his new side.
There will be obstacles to overcome for him, from his first few training sessions to his in-game adjustments and tactics. The key is understanding what will be (and what should be) Lampard’s expectations in his opening campaign as a manager.
A top-half finish at the least
Clubs need to progress, and there should always be goals to be even better than the previous season. After finishing in the play-off places, Derby will want to gain promotion to the top flight in the upcoming term. However, that may not necessarily be a realistic objective for Lampard.
The Rams have to recognise the risk in this appointment, even as the potential appears to be limitless in some ways. Lampard could eventually become a great manager, but to expect that immediately is a bit naïve.
Assuming crucial players are kept in the team and reinforcements can arrive during the transfer period, there is no reason that Derby should not be able to be back in the promotion hunt. A poor season out of the top half would be a significant step back for all involved.
A familiar comparison
Throughout Lampard’s playing career, he found himself compared continuously with England team-mate Steven Gerrard. Both have now become managers, and the debate will now continue in a different way for them.
Gerrard was announced as the new boss at Rangers, as he looks to guide the club back to the top of Scottish football. With each taking their first positions as coaches, it will be fascinating to see both individuals progress and evolve with their sides.
Gerrard will likely see more pressure, as Celtic’s reign as champions will be a tricky challenge. However, Lampard will have a chance to do something quite special with Derby.
Lampard and Gerrard could fail, and the clubs may ultimately regret the decisions that were made. Although, when considering how they performed as players, one can’t help but think that Derby and Rangers may just find themselves experiencing success in the near future.