Sleepless nights, nerves and stewing over his starting XI, Frank Lampard’s competitive juices are flowing as he prepares for his managerial bow.
His Derby side get the new Championship season underway at Reading in Friday’s televised clash, and the former Chelsea and England midfielder admits management has brought a new “intensity” to his life.
Following an 18-month stint as a pundit after retiring as a player in February 2017, Lampard says he may even struggle to contain “the animal” inside him which took him to the top as a player.
“It has certainly brought another intensity to my life this week,” said the 40-year-old.
“Heated moments can bring out the animal inside, I will try to keep that within. I am not sure how big the animal is inside me.
“There will be nerves come match-day, because this is a new role. Potentially they could be bigger now, but I don’t mind nerves. That comes with the territory. To go by the last month, I probably won’t sleep very well, management does bring lots of different issues.
“You take full responsibility and do wake up sometimes in the night thinking about players and tactics. But I’m very excited and focused. Fans want to see passion and that you really care – and I will care.”
Lampard’s glittering career hit the heights as a goal-scoring midfielder who won 106 England caps, the Champions League, three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups.
He is applying those same qualities of hard work, dedication and attention to detail as a rookie boss with the Rams.
“I would love to have as good a career as a manager, but I don’t set any aims, that would be naive,” said Lamps.
“I am starting afresh here and from the bottom in terms of my managerial career. My playing career puts me in good stead to a degree. I have played under many managers and played alongside many team-mates and tried to suck in all the information I can.
“It helped me get a job like this as my first job, that is pretty obvious. But in terms of the big picture, a good start is as far as I am looking.”
His appointment at Derby under maverick tech tycoon Mel Morris has certainly got the club buzzing.
Gary Rowett’s successor has already made his mark in pre-season by introducing an attacking 4-3-3 formation.
His signings of 19-year-old Mason Mount, Harry Wilson, 21, Jack Marriott and George Evans, both 23, and Florian Jozefzoon, 27, have reduced the squad’s average age.
The new-look side has gelled already, beating Premier League duo Southampton and Wolves this pre-season. But Friday night will be different, with League points at stake in front of a big crowd.
Lampard promised: “You are going to see work ethic, energy and a passion for this club to get us to where we want to be.
“Those are the foundations and what our large passionate fan-base will react to.
“We have had good form in pre-season, but they don’t give you points. As a manager it is very important how you respond and react to both winning and losing because everyone in the building will go off your lead. That is a new test for me and there will be lots of new tests for me along the way.”
Swapping the TV pundit’s chair for the dug-out will certainly be a real examination.
How he does, promises to make fascinating viewing.
Will Frank Lampard get Derby promoted?
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