Sunday 26 May 2019

Lampard insists former boss still special ahead of Mourinho reunion

Still special: ‘What he’s achieved as a manager doesn’t need to be spoken about, it’s in the history books’. Photo: PA
Still special: ‘What he’s achieved as a manager doesn’t need to be spoken about, it’s in the history books’. Photo: PA

John Percy

Frank Lampard has been struggling with sleepless nights ahead of his encounter with Jose Mourinho, the manager he still believes is the Special One.

It is the latest addition to the Lampard family, baby daughter Patricia, who has been occupying the early hours for the Derby County manager as he dreams up a strategy to combat Mourinho in an intriguing Carabao Cup tie at Old Trafford.

Mourinho was in contact with his former Chelsea midfielder last week to offer his congratulations, but tonight they will face each other in the technical area in a battle of the mentor versus the protégé.

Lampard will always be remembered as one of Mourinho's key figures during that glorious first spell at Chelsea, with the pair winning two Premier League titles in a row as the Portuguese blew into English football like a hurricane.

Battling

Mourinho, it seems, is now battling a cold wind at Manchester United as he bemoans the motivation of his squad and has been implored to "attack, attack, attack" by star player Paul Pogba.

Yet Lampard insists his former manager still possesses the aura of the brash newcomer who shook up Stamford Bridge 14 years ago.

"When you're the manager of Manchester United, when you have the CV and the background of Jose Mourinho, and this is not ancient history, this is fresh history of the Europa League and the FA Cup or whatever, then of course you have it (an aura)," he said.

"In terms of the 'Special One', those are just words. In terms of being a great manager, of course he is.

"What he's achieved as a manager doesn't need to be spoken about, it's in the history books.

"The wins, the titles, successful teams he's put together and managed and I'm just a baby in managerial terms.

"Last season, Tottenham were a fair way behind and Mauricio Pochettino's a great manager. Liverpool were behind in the league and Jurgen Klopp's a great manager. Manchester United came second."

Perhaps wisely, Lampard declined to respond when asked about Pogba's comments regarding United's style of play in home games.

But he can still recall how Chelsea's all-conquering teams of 2005 and 2006 were also branded as negative, an accusation which has been levelled at Mourinho throughout his managerial career.

"We certainly weren't negative at Chelsea, though we got painted that way because we could also grind out a win when we weren't at our best," said Lampard.

"We had a really good defence, not just the back four but the whole team. We worked very hard to stop teams scoring, created a lot of chances and scored a lot of goals.

"It became a little bit of a stick to beat us with, looking back. I think Jose Mourinho has his style but he will play a style to try and win a game."

Lampard, 40, credits Mourinho as one of the reasons he has taken his first steps into management.

He has guided Derby into the Championship play-off positions after five wins in nine games, following his appointment in May.

He has pledged to make "some changes" to his young squad but has backed teenage attacking midfielder Mason Mount to embrace the pressure of a big cup tie.

Mount, on loan from Chelsea, was watched by England manager Gareth Southgate in last week's draw with Blackburn and is already in contention for the senior side.

"I'm not surprised at how well he has done and I actually think there's a lot more to come," said Lampard.

Manchester United v Derby Co, Live, Sky Sports, 8.0

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