Lampard praises Mourinho ahead of reunion in League Cup
‘He was fantastic for me when I lost my mother – it’s things like that you don’t forget’
Derby County manager Frank Lampard: “When you work with people like José they leave an imprint on you.” Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Frank Lampard remembers – watching the press conference in 2004 at which José Mourinho, freshly arrived at – Chelsea, announced that he was “a special one”.
He says: “I saw it and I liked it. It was something different. British culture is not to walk in and call yourself the special one, I don’t think. That’s the way he was and I admired him for it, and actually if you make those statements you had better back them up, and he certainly did.”
If many people believe Mourinho’s aura has started to fade, Lampard is not one of them. The Portuguese remains, in the eyes of his former midfielder, as special as ever. “When you’re the manager of Manchester United, when you have the CV and the background of José Mourinho – and this is not ancient history, this is fresh history, the Europa League, the FA Cup – then of course you have it,” he says.
On Tuesday night, for the second time in four days, Mourinho will come up against a team managed by one of his former players. Nuno Espírito Santo led Wolves to a draw at Old Trafford on Saturday, with Lampard preparing to bring his Derby team to the same venue in the Carabao Cup.
Mourinho’s influence, in contrast perhaps to his own reputation, continues to blossom. “He’s managed top clubs and he’s an influential manager,” Lampard says. “He’s brought change and uplift in players and individuals. When you work with people like José they leave an imprint on you.”
The 40-year-old, given his first job in management by Derby in May, cannot think of anything specific that he has copied from the Portuguese. “I didn’t go home and log things, but of course some things stick with you,” he says. “I wouldn’t think it was the detail, it was more his approach.
“There are things you like and things you don’t like in every manager. Certainly I took a bit from him on the mental side. Because at the time it felt like he really made me improve on the pitch and how I felt about the game, improved my confidence.”
Like many of the players who were part of Mourinho’s first title-winning team at Chelsea, Lampard still has a strong relationship with his former manager. Last week Lampard’s wife, Christine, gave birth to the couple’s first child, a girl named Patricia, and Mourinho called to congratulate him.
“He’s strong on family. He was always like that as a manager,” Lampard says. “He was fantastic for me when I lost my mother. He was at Inter at the time and he was ringing me regularly. And it’s things like that you don’t forget.”
Derby are two points off the top of the Championship, with Lampard having made an impressive start to his managerial career. But Mourinho, who is in his third season at Old Trafford having never managed to stay at any club for four, has also taught him about the fragility of managerial success. “Of course in management we know we’re all sackable at any moment,” he says.
“Any manager who goes beyond three years now, they are probably the exception to the rule. I don’t think it’s anywhere near specific to José. If people want to say it’s because he works so hard and pushes his players so much, well he should work hard and he should push them. That’s what management is about.”