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Chelsea U18 manager Jody Morris joins Frank Lampard as assistant at Derby County

Massively successful youth coach

Chelsea v Arsenal - FA Youth Cup Final: Second Leg Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

As expected, Frank Lampard’s first order of business as Derby County manager has been to name his good friend and former teammate Jody Morris as his assistant manager. Jody and Frank were teammates at Stamford Bridge from 2001 to 2003 and had worked together last season at Cobham whenever Lampard needed to complete the hands-on portions of his coaching license qualifications.

“The team around you is hugely important. It’s not just about me as the manager; everyone will have a part to play on the staff and Jody is the first part of that. I am delighted to have him on board.

“Jody has been hugely successful with Chelsea’s youth team and he has won everything there is to win in the last few years.

“He is great at developing young players and that is something we are really going to look to do here.”

-Frank Lampard; source; Derby County FC

Derby County are planning to turn to youth for their future, a budget move as much as a philosophical one. There’s not a lot of money in the Championship, relatively speaking. After coming close to promotion the last two seasons (losing to Fulham in the playoff last term) Derby are changing their approach. Owner and club chairman Mel Morris (no relation) is cutting payroll, looking for younger, less-expensive players and removing pressure on Lampard and Morris to vie for promotion in their rookie season and no experience at senior level of management.

The youth bit, of course, is where Morris excelled in his two terms running Chelsea U18s, winning a total of seven (7!) trophies after taking over from Adi Viveash Joe Edwards in 2016.

In the process, Chelsea became the first youth team since the Busby Babes in the 1950s to win the FA Youth Cup five seasons on a row. Morris had a hand in two other Youth Cup wins as the U18 assistant manager in 2015 and 2016.

“Jody played the game at the highest level himself, has a tremendous work ethic and is great in the dressing room.

“I have known him for so long now and his qualities and personality will bring so much to this club.”

-Frank Lampard

Local legend Jody Morris played 173 games for Chelsea between 1996 and 2003, and he rejoined the club as a coach in the Academy when he retired as a player (from Bristol City) in 2013. Moving on from his current role with the youth team makes sense at this point in his career, as he follows in the footsteps of all those who have come before during the Abramovich Era’s emphasis on proper youth development and youth coaching development. When Morris was named U18 head coach in 2016, Academy manager Neil Bath made it very clear that these efforts are very much part of the overall effort at Cobham.

“Our coaching is obviously fundamental to that so it is crucial we have coaching development plans in place so our staff can develop. We remain at the forefront of the game with regards to our coaching content. It is a subject fully supported by the club’s technical board and one which Michael Emenalo and I regularly discuss.

”Not only do staff complete qualifications like coaching badges, we also encourage them to use mentors as support tools and observe best practise from other sports, business or education. We have a coaching philosophy that is constantly evolving, in line with the modern game, so we recognise the importance of being able to adapt and reshape our programme.”

“It is important for us to keep the development of all our coaching staff in mind and ensure there is a pathway for them to develop to their full potential.”

-Neil Bath; April 2016

That pathway has seen the likes of Steve Clarke, Brendan Rodgers, Steve Holland, Paul Clement, Adi Viveash, and Dermot Drummy all rise up from the youth ranks to senior football management — in the cases of Holland and Viveash, “only” to assistant manager thus far — and now Morris joins them in taking the leap to the Championship, joining the cut-throat world of senior-level football management. Unlike his predecessors, he’s essentially “skipping” the U21 step, though he will still have vastly more experience than his new boss. We wish both of them only the best of luck!

“Jody has done a fantastic job, not just in terms of the silverware the Under-18s have won in recent years but with the way in which he has added to the culture and environment that is so important to us at the Academy. This contributes to the all-round development of so many young footballers at the club.

“Although we’re naturally disappointed to be losing Jody as one of our academy coaches, we’re also delighted for him to be joining Frank and wish them every success at Derby.”

-Neil Bath; source: Chelsea FC

Who will replace Morris at Chelsea is not yet clear. Ed Brand, a former Chelsea youth prospect himself, has been Jody’s assistant for the past two years and would be the logical choice even if he’s only 31. Others in charge of younger age groups, such as Tore Andre Flo or Jon Harley might make the step up as well. At the U19/U21 levels, Joe Edwards is likely to continue after his first season on the job that saw him reach the finals of the UEFA Youth League and reach the semifinals of the Checkatrade Trophy.

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