Blues legend is earmarked for the role, an obvious choice for Chelsea after a miserable season of stodgy Sarri-ball
HE is one game away from the Chelsea job that he so covets.
Lampard has never made any secret of his ambition to return to Stamford Bridge as manager.
It is coming quicker than expected.
He is earmarked for the role, an obvious choice for Chelsea after a miserable season of stodgy Sarri-ball.
His commitment to youth, trusting young Chelsea starlets Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, plus Liverpool’s Harry Wilson, to play a key part in Derby’s promotion bid has gone down well at the Bridge.
For years they have been desperate for more academy players to come through the ranks.
Soon they could be getting one of their own — albeit via West Ham — to run the show.
They know he wants this job, that his desire to take the seat in the home dugout at Stamford Bridge is driving him.
CHANGE IN THE AIR
He has firm views on the way the game should be played, studying the managerial characteristics of Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho when he played under them at Chelsea.
Lampard, 41 next month, wants to follow in their footsteps — and age should be no barrier.
The Special One was the same age when he left Porto in 2004 after landing the Champions League to succeed Claudio Ranieri at the Blues.
Maurizio Sarri’s coaching staff have been telling friends they expect to be sacked after the Europa League final against Arsenal on May 29, whatever the outcome.
It is about more than a return to the Champions League, the chance for Sarri to win his first trophy in Baku, or coming off second best to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.
This is about the joyless experience of watching Chelsea this season, the numbness that follows when Jorginho’s name is read out or Gonzalo Higuain wheezing when he chases the ball.
Chelsea fans, spoilt rotten for 13 years as Lampard bossed it in the centre of midfield, want him back. And he wants to return too.
When he started out on his managerial journey, finally accepting an offer from the Rams last summer, he set out to earn the right to manage them.
As a decorated former player, with three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the 2012 Champions League triumph, he is a rich part of their recent history.
MADE HIS MARK
He got the taste for management sat in the TV studio watching Champions League matches with Steven Gerrard.
Lampard has made his mark, with Derby’s superb comeback at Leeds on Wednesday propelling them towards the play-off final.
The dressing room celebrations, widely shared on social media over the past 24 hours, show the level of respect Derby’s players have for him.
With his relaxed manner, they know there is an awful lot to learn from a man of his standing.
They still have a way to go though. Lampard was busy reminding his players on the pitch that the biggest game of the lot is still to come.
The sub-plot is fascinating because so much of the build-up will centre on the friendship between John Terry and Lampard.
Terry is assistant manager to Dean Smith at Aston Villa, an unlikely understudy after spending his senior playing career as Chelsea captain.
There is another layer because Ashley Cole — who gave evidence for Terry when he was acquitted of racism in 2012 — plays for Derby.
Lampard and Terry go head-to-head in the final, with a return to the Premier League at stake for these high-profile figures.
Lampard will spend the next ten days plotting victory, working out the possibilities and scenarios with assistant Jody Morris.
They have a strong bond, a formidable partnership established when they were young players at Chelsea.
Soon enough, they could be heading back there.
Frank Lampard set to take over as Chelsea’s new manager, according to reports in Italy