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DUFFERS’ DIARIES: Frank’s talked the talk, now it’s time for the job in hand

Frank Lampard unveiled as the new Derby County manager, at press conference on Thursday with Club chairman Mel Morris.
Frank Lampard unveiled as the new Derby County manager, at press conference on Thursday with Club chairman Mel Morris.

Frank Lampard certainly looked and sounded the part as he was unveiled as Derby County’s new manager last Thursday.

As he wandered into the press conference with chairman Mel Morris, the gathered media were greeted by a man well known, well groomed and seemingly well prepared for both the questions he was about to face and for the challenge ahead.

What was said that day has been widely reported and by now fans will no doubt be familiar with just the kind of philosophy Lampard hopes to adopt, and the confidence with which he spoke about his first ever managerial role.

But now that the dust is settling following the relative media frenzy that greeted Lampard’s appointment, it’s down to the real deal of building a team and a future at Pride Park.

It wasn’t lost on me as I sat surrounded by numerous national journalists and broadcasters at Pride Park that many of those folks were highly unlikely to be at every press conference the Rams host, with those more locally-based usually making up the numbers at the club’s Moor Farm training ground for the weekly pre-match gatherings.

But in a way it is symbolic of the many changes Lampard will have to experience as he adapts from being on a very global stage both as a player and a pundit, to dealing with the relative serenity of Championship football, albeit with one of the bigger clubs at that level.

Being ‘Frank Lampard, great player’ will have very little bearing on whether he will become ‘Frank Lampard, great manager’, and how he copes with not being surrounded by some of the best players and coaches the world has to offer remains to be seen.

That comfort zone he’s found himself in, mostly since the glory days at Chelsea began if not before, will seem a long way away once he finds himself standing suited and booted but also very cold and wet on a miserable Tuesday night in Rotherham.

Can he get the best out of players who, whilst clearly highly-talented professionals, aren’t quite of the standard he’s used to witnessing and working with? Will he make them better players or merely alienate them by expecting more than they can offer?

When questioned about his knowledge of the Championship, Lampard claims to have watched its games regularly on television, but any belief that qualifies him to even begin to understand the harsh and gruelling realities of that league would be foolish.

However, one of Lampard’s endearing qualities is his apparent intelligence and he’s certainly not the type that appears to be out of his depth before a ball is even kicked.

The enormity of the job in hand won’t be lost on him - even with budget cuts Derby are expected to be back in the Premier League before too long - and one can only hope that as Lampard sits in his Russian hotel room in the coming weeks awaiting his next punditry date with the BBC during the World Cup, that he’s spending every spare minute plotting the Rams’ next move in the transfer market and planning his training drills ready to unleash on Moor Farm upon his return.

After all, if Lampard succeeds quickly at Derby, he may not be around long. If he fails just as fast, the same could be said. His destiny is in own hands, and it’s time to get to work.