By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Former Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard made his mark as a manager with Tuesday’s League Cup win over Manchester United at Old Trafford — and says he is enjoying his new role in the game.
Lampard’s intelligent and dynamic midfield play earned him 106 caps for his country and he won three Premier League titles at Chelsea as well as the Champions League in 2012.
But after having his name chanted by celebrating Derby supporters, Lampard said no longer being on the field was not something he was missing.
“I am very content I am not playing anymore. It felt very special here, as special as playing,” he said.
“I had 21 years as a professional but the end was at the right time, I don’t miss it as much… this is my new thing and I like doing my job, I am enjoying it. I particularly enjoy it when the players perform like they did.”
As well as moving into the last 16 of the League Cup, Derby have made a decent start to the season in the second-tier Championship and are sixth after their weekend win over Brentford.
And while many managers are happy to rotate their squads and bring in fringe players for the League Cup — Lampard played his first choice line-up and was rewarded with a win that can only boost his team’s confidence.
“It was the easiest selection I’ve had. They played so well against Brentford and I knew how much they all wanted to play. I wanted to come here and win,” he said.
Plenty of managers cite the need for their first choice players to rest but Lampard said the natural progress of the season will provide opportunities for most of his squad.
“I wanted to keep a bit of momentum. The season will dictate to me, players will change with form or injury, we have got another shed load of games coming in the Championship and now in the Cup. I felt this was one where we go again – we have a few days recovery before Bolton (Wanderers),” he added.
Derby won 8-7 in penalties after the game had ended 2-2 after 90 minutes, scoring all of their spot kicks.
In fact, Derby, who played attractive and positive football, could and probably should have had the game won in normal time. Only a stoppage time header from United substitute Marouane Fellaini had stopped them from victory.
“It was a special performance – to come to Manchester United and not to just nick one, but to play the way we played, doing all the things we have been working towards in a short space of time,” said Lampard.
What made the win extra special was that it came against Lampard’s old boss from his Chelsea days — Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho congratulated his former player and the gesture was appreciated.
“He just said what an impressive performance it was from the team. He was very complimentary, he was very welcoming from the beginning of the day,” Lampard said.
“It was an honour for me. I played for Jose Mourinho and he changed my career. He changed my mentality when I was 25 years of age and I was part of a very successful era at Chelsea usually because of him. To stand next to him on the touchline was an honour.”
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge)