In the wake of some troubling times at his old club and the uncertainty surrounding current coach Maurizio Sarri, Frank Lampard’s name started to be linked more often with a Chelsea return. Perceived as one of two potential candidates being evaluated by Chelsea (the other being Zinedine Zidane), it wouldn’t be surprising to see him back at the Bridge anytime soon. Which in itself is remarkable given that less than 18 months ago, Lampard was a million miles away from becoming their next boss. But an impressive start to his managerial career at Derby and the need to return to something familiar has provided food for thought within Chelsea’s hierarchy. Lampard gained most of his reputation playing for the club as a star midfielder who provided guile but also goals to boot.
Remarkably he is one of several former star midfielders who are making their transition into management with the world watching on intrigued by how they will fare on the other side of the white line. Many expected Lampard not to make the transition well and to flop at Derby but his level headed yet tactical approach appears to have rubbed off as the Rams push eagerly for one of three lucrative promotional places to the Premier League. Derby sit 7th in the Championship with another 45 points still up for grabs so anything is possible between now and the end of the season. The fans will be hoping that Chelsea don’t come calling anytime soon and that Lampard can finish what he has started by getting Derby promoted.
Just under 300 miles north of Derby in Glasgow, Lampard’s central midfield partner for England is also proving that rookie managers aren’t to be afraid of. Steven Gerrard may have switched the Merseyside derby for the Old Firm one when he took over at Rangers but so far he hasn’t looked out of place. The former Liverpool legend has galvanized the former Scottish champions and has help transform them from the shambolic mess he inherited from Pedro Caixinha to potential title challengers in his first full season in the job. Gerrard, who appears destined to manage Liverpool one day, has taken management in his stride and is flourishing in the cauldron that is Scottish football. Having is former manager, Brendan Rodgers across the city at rivals Celtic will have helped not only with his transition but to give him added motivation to “get one over his former boss”. Whilst Celtic maintain a healthy lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership, Rangers are closing the gap slowly but surely. That might accelerate now that Rodgers has departed for Leicester but only time will tell.
Whilst Oldham may not have had the recent success of Rangers or Derby, the League Two side still had its rich history to drawn on when it went looking for their latest manager. In the end they turned to another great midfielder, Paul Scholes who jumped at the chance only a few weeks ago. The former Manchester United and England star grew up supporting the Latics so starting his managerial career there was a no brainer for both parties. Regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation, Scholes tenacity and eye for a killer pass made him one of the most respected and all rounded players of that era. Now Scholes is applying that same approach to management but success will take more time as Scholes is finding out. One win, one draw and two defeats so far will not have dampened his spirits but it will have demonstrated to him the gap in quality between what he is used to and what he has to work with. The test will be if Scholes can take what he learned during his days at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson and apply it to Oldham.
Scott Parker didn’t expect to be managing in the Premier League this season but when the axe fell on Claudio Ranieri earlier this week, it was Parker that Fulham turned to to step up into the fray. Parker has no managerial experience at this point however he has been operating as a coach for a couple of years first, at Spurs in the Under 18’s then at Fulham as a first team coach. Like Lampard, Gerrard and Scholes, Parker will lean heavily on his experiences during his playing career which spans over twenty years and 600 professional games. He takes over at Fulham with the Cottagers in a precarious position, ten points adrift of safety and staring relegation in the face. But perhaps with ten games to go, this is the best time for Parker to take control. With nothing to lose, Parker cannot fail. If he is unable to improve performances then Fulham will go down as many currently expect they will. If he manages to turn things around and can save them, then his stock as a manager will soar and will likely result in him getting the job on a longer term basis. As a player, Parker was a formidable force in the centre of the park, a no nonsense battling midfielder who lead by example often under the role of captain. He will be looking to get a reaction from his new team immediately both on and off the pitch as Fulham fight it out over their remaining ten games.
All four managers have something to prove. All four were exceptional central midfielders both for club and country and gained reputations to match that. As they transition into managerial roles, will they be able to transfer their natural ability on the field to their coaching off it? Time will tell.