Frankly Speaking: Derby and Lampard keen to build on Carabao experience

In the first of our regular column by Derby County manager and England legend Frank Lampard, the man talks about his maiden foray into coaching.

I’ve been asked on several occasions over the last few months how I’ve found the first few months of being a manager. After around 18 months since I retired from playing, I can honestly say it’s great to be involved in the cut and thrust of professional football once more. I’ve really enjoyed the whole experience so far and it’s nice to have that buzz back again.

Derby County is a fantastic football club with a rich history and a passionate fanbase. There are so many facets to the job that people maybe don’t see that you have to handle on a daily basis, but I’ve embraced everything that comes with it. You’re always learning in football and I can honestly say the whole experience has been enjoyable.

I’ve loved being out on the grass and working hard throughout the week with the players and there’s nothing more rewarding than putting the work in and reaping the rewards of that. It’s still early days but I’m relishing the challenge and looking forward to what’s ahead.

We have a great group of players here and there’s a real sense of unity in the dressing room. We have a nice mixture of youth and experience within the squad and everyone is pulling in the right direction. The squad is close-knit and I like the blend, from the experienced players, right through to the promising youngsters coming through in the Academy.

We have had a busy few weeks on the pitch as well since the October international break and face back-to-back home games before the next international break later this month. First up we have Birmingham City at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday, followed by the visit of Aston Villa next weekend.

We head into the Birmingham game off the back of a positive run of results in the league, collecting seven points out of nine from a succession of matches against teams above us in the table. We had the 2-1 victory at home to Sheffield United, followed by a 4-1 success at West Bromwich Albion and then a 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough. We were close to nine points from nine and, on top of that, we’ve set ourselves a benchmark with some of the performances that we’ve produced in recent weeks.

I said going into the Sheffield United game two weeks ago that we felt it was time for us to start getting the results that our performances deserved – and do it consistently. We’ve done that in the last few matches but that doesn’t mean we’ve ‘cracked it’ so to speak. We need to keep striving for more and continue to improve and I’ll keep reinforcing that message. As I have said on several occasions, we must keep working hard and be aware that there’s more to come from us all.

The Championship is a relentless division as the games come thick and fast, so we have to maintain a strong sense of focus as we quickly move from one game to the next. I believe this group has an excellent mentality to maintain the standards they’ve set themselves.

If we are to be competing at the top end of the division then we need to maintain a consistent level of performance and a have strong mentality and focus given the relentless nature of the division. We’ve shown what we are capable of in games, so the challenge is to bring all that together and see us perform to that kind of level on a consistent basis.

We took a brief break from league action earlier this week when we visited Chelsea in Round Four of the Carabao Cup, with our journey in the competition ending in a 3-2 defeat. It was a special occasion for me to go back to my former club and the support of both sets of fans made for a brilliant atmosphere, but I want to focus on the performance of the players on the night.

We went up against a top side, caused them problems and had chances to get more than the two goals that we scored. We were backed by a superb following once again and I was proud of the players’ performance. They gave us absolutely everything.

As I said after the game, it’s down to us now to build on the success of our Carabao Cup experiences and maintain our recent form as we enter the winter months. It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to and one I’ll update you on when I return in my next blog in a few weeks.

FOX Sports Asia have teamed up with Derby County FC to bring you a regular column where club manager and England legend Frank Lampard talks about the latest developments in English football.