Are Derby County missing 'Super' Frank Lampard?
Image Via: Geograph/John Sutton. CC BY-SA 2.0.
A little over twelve months ago, Derby County would take a punt on a Premier League legend. Frank Lampard wouldn't join in a playing capacity, rather the Englishman would test his hand at management for the first time. For owner Melvyn Morris, it was a risk. Quite frankly (pun not intended), it could have gone either way.
Lampard must have talked a good game in his interview to land such a high-profile job as his first with the clipboard, but boy did he back it up. Sure, he had help, while having good connections within the game served him (and Derby) wonderfully well. Eventually, the young Rams would suffer play-off final heartbreak, but they'd come back and do it again in the 2019/20 campaign, right?
Well, that's what the Derbyshire-based side would have had in mind... but for a Chelsea transfer ban which would force Roman Abramovich's hand to take the Stamford Bridge outfit in a different direction. Super Frank would return home to a heroes welcome, though it hasn't been plain sailing back in West London...
Enter Phillip Cocu. The 48-year-old is arguably more high-profile than his predecessor, after all, he has played for FC Barcelona, amassed over 100 Netherlands caps and has managed PSV Eindhoven. What could go wrong...?
Apparently, quite a lot. In six games, Derby sits in nineteenth place in the Championship table after amassing just six points. After an opening day victory away at Huddersfield Town, Cocu's men would draw three and lose two from their next five. That's form you'd expect to see from relegation fodder...
Cocu better hope these players have 'new energy', though if they're exhausted (mentally or physically) after just 12% of their games being played, it could be a long old season if Derby don't buck their ideas up - and quickly. Sure, injuries have played their part with several key squad members still missing with little niggling problems, but that's no excuse, it's why you have a deep squad.
Look, it's never good when you're being booed off by your own fans at half-time. That's exactly what happened to the Dutchman and his Derby players when they were down 3-0 away at Brentford. Now I know Griffin Park isn't an easy away ground to visit and win, and the visitors may have performed better in the second half, but it's just not good enough. Something has to give.
It's not all Cocu's fault, either. There's no Mason Mount available to carve out those chances, Fiyako Tomori is back at the Bridge, too, while Harry Wilson is now testing himself in the Premier League for AFC Bournemouth. Losing such talent isn't easy to cope with, particularly when, aside from the Krystian Bielik signing, the Dutchman is working with wheeler-dealing free transfers and loan signings. It's not as if Cocu can call up PSG and ask to borrow Steven Bergwijn and Denzel Dumfries to make his job easier...
The Championship is a tough league. It's probably the most competitive division in world football so perhaps we should give Lampard more credit than he's getting for the excellent work he did in his one and only season with Derby - although their fans certainly won't thank him for leaving without completely finishing the job. They'll understand the decision he made, mind.