The prevailing narrative (or speculation, if you want to be less generous) before last night’s Championship Playoff Final was that if Frank Lampard succeeded in taking Derby County back up to the Premier League, he would surely want to continue overseeing that project at the highest level as well.
Unfortunately for Lampard, Aston Villa proved to be the better side at Wembley, prevailing 2-1 on the night and punching their return ticket to the Premier League after a two-year absence. (Congrats to assistant coach John Terry and starting striker Tammy Abraham!)
Wasn’t to be today for us Rams...proud of everyone involved with the club..sorry we wasn’t able to deliver the Premier League to this great club @dcfcofficial Thankyou to the Fans it’s been a privilege to stand on the sidelines infront of you this season— Jody Morris (@morriskid) May 27, 2019
But in the immediate, emotional aftermath of the defeat, Lampard showed little inclination of jumping ship. In fact, he doubled down on his desire to stay and do better next season. After all, that’s what winners do.
“The fact of if we’d won or lost wouldn’t have changed my mind.
”I’ve not had any conversations with any other club. This has been my club — it is my club. I’m the manager with a two year contract. The talks will be about how we can compete in the Championship next year. We can’t compete with a squad of 13 - we need a squad of 20 plus. Financial fair play makes it tight for us.”
Lampard did confirm that there will be talks with Derby owner Mel Morris, who does eventually expect to lose Lampard but also advised him that a few seasons of success with the club would be helpful in any future appointment in the cauldron of pressure that is Chelsea and the Premier League.
“I’m not interested in the speculation. What is likely is I’ll speak to Mel Morris, the owner, in the next few days when the dust settles and then we’ll see how it goes. I’ve got a two-year contract and I love working at this place. The fans giving the players an ovation.... we’ll see.”
In fact, Lampard’s basically ready to get down to business. With Derby.
“Whether the loan players go back, they’ve been influential for us this year. We’ve got players out of contract so its work for us to put right.
”It’s important we start the work really quickly [for next season] because the squad is very thin now for next year. It’s a shame because they’re great characters in there, but this is football.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Sky
Of course, things can and do often change very quickly in football. In two days, Chelsea may be without a coach, and that just might pose an interesting dilemma for Super Frank, who’s clearly invested a lot emotionally and mentally into Derby County’s season. Answers may be quite different when the landscape gets re-surveyed with cooler headers and clearer hearts.
Not that there’s any rush, really. Sooner or later Frank Lampard will be Chelsea manager. It is known. It doesn’t have to be straight away, and perhaps it’s shouldn’t be. That said, any coach who gets appointed during a potential transfer ban could find himself with a bit of extra leeway, so maybe this would be the perfect time in fact to make the leap.
As Lampard says, we’ll see. At the end of the day, that’s the only certain answer you can ever give in football.