Chelsea and England legend Frank Lampard is an ambassador for Emirates SportsMed clinic in Dubai. Ahead of his Derby County side taking on Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final, Lampard discusses his UAE project and his first season in management.
Sport Industry Insider: How has your first season as a football manager been?
Frank Lampard: “I have really enjoyed it and, as any manager will tell you in their first job, it’s about adapting. There are a lot of things that can catch you out or test you differently. The responsibilities of being a manager compared to being a player are night and day. As a player you can be selfish. To a degree you are trying to be a team player but in your day-to-day life you work hard and then go home as you prepare for the next day or game.
“As a manager you are thinking about preparing 20+ players in the squad, you’re thinking about the Academy and the staff behind the scenes. You’re also thinking about the next game, the one after that and the one after that. There are so many things that come up that you have to deal with. That is the adjustment really for anybody as you have to completely accept the fact that the role is very different, albeit in the same field. It’s very different on this side. I have enjoyed it, but it certainly is more time consuming and carries more responsibility than playing.
SII: Who were your best managers and what qualities have you tried to take from them?
Frank Lampard: “When I was in my 20s I didn’t think like that and rightly so because you don’t want to look too far ahead. When I got into my 30s I started to consider the next options and paid more attention to all the managers that I worked with. I tried to note things, mostly in my head, that I liked or didn’t like. Generally, they were things that I felt were good to remember to take forward. That all grew until I retired. The only thing I knew I wanted to do when I finished was to have a year or so out of the game and not be employed full-time in football.”
SII: Why did you join Derby County – what was it about the club?
Frank Lampard: “There were other offers but it was when I met the owner Mel Morris, that I knew this was the right move for me. I knew the size of the stadium, the training facilities and infrastructure that was in place and what the club was about. I know that the club has been outside of the Premier League since 2008, but when I actually drove to Derby for the first time I was struck by the passion and intensity of the fan-base in the 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.”
SII: You’re the ambassador for Emirates SportsMed [formerly nanoM] in Dubai; what’s it all about?
Frank Lampard: “Emirates SportsMed was created specifically for the world of professional sports, and it’s the first private facility to have such advanced technology under one roof. It has all the expertise and equipment for a PCMA (a prerequisite for FIFA tournaments) and a laboratory with a running track and cameras to monitor and analyse whole body motion. Emirates SportsMed helps amateur and professional athletes improve their performances and extend their sports careers.”
SII: Why is the Championship such a competitive league?
Frank Lampard: “I think the level of quality is incredibly high in the Championship and, as we all know, it’s such a hard league to be successful in. It’s competitive because there are so many big clubs competing to reach the Premier League and with a history of being in the top flight. The quality of players, and managers, in this league continues to get better and you have a number of clubs, especially those that have come down in recent years, that have the financial power to spend big to give themselves a chance of being in the promotion race. It’s such an exciting league and you can’t take anything for granted at all. Nothing is handed to you on a plate because if you underestimate the opposition then you’ll come undone.”
SII: You signed Ashley Cole – what’s it like managing a player who used to be a team-mate?
Frank Lampard: “It’s been great and I’ve enjoyed working with Ashley again in that sense. It’s not been a problem, the transition from playing together and then him being a player while I’m the manager. For the players to see someone who has won the lot in the game, but be humble and be first in at training and working on his game by putting pressure on himself day in and day out is fantastic. And then to be vocal in team meetings and speak the truth and stand up and say things in front of people has been brilliant for me to have a player that can send that message to the players.”
SII: How important is Championship experience when bringing in players?
Frank Lampard: Obviously having players that understand the league is important to a degree, but it’s about more than that. It’s about the individual being right for how we want to play and also the dressing room. We’ve brought in Mason Mount on loan from Chelsea, for example, and he’s been excellent for us without having any Championship experience. Another player, Jack Marriott, joined in the summer after such an impressive campaign in League 1 and in a short period of time he settled into the division. While Championship experience is important, it isn’t essential.”