Frank Lampard’s career in management has surprised his former Chelsea team-mate Samuele Dalla Bona as the Derby manager and his assistant Jody Morris prepare to return to Stamford Bridge.
Lampard and Morris, who battled for midfield spots at Chelsea with a young Dalla Bona under Claudio Ranieri in the early 2000s, have now gone into coaching and helped Derby into last season’s Championship play-off final where they lost 2-1 to Aston Villa.
Derby have given Chelsea permission to speak to Lampard about the prospect of the Blues’ legendary midfielder returning to Stamford Bridge to replace Maurizio Sarri as manager.
Dalla Bona, however, believed Lampard was more likely to become a movie star than a manager when his playing career ended, but wishes his old team-mate well back in west London.
"I am a bit surprised for Lampard that he became a manager. I thought he was a superstar and could go into the movies or something! Now he decided to be a thinker and a manager," Dalla Bona told Goal. "They lost to Aston Villa but it was a great achievement with Derby.
"I remember he was a big player and a great person. I was only 17 and he was a few years older. He helped me a lot. We played together for a few years. I hope for him that he can go to Chelsea, and to go and do it as a manager is much more different to being a player.
"He has the fans behind him and, even if he struggles at first, he will be a legend at Chelsea. I hope he can go to Chelsea. Maybe it is too early but I hope he can get the job because I would get behind him and get to his games! He was great as a player, professional and very funny.
"Under Ranieri, we played together a lot in midfield, he was box-to-box. Hopefully, he will become a great manager. I played with Jody Morris, too. He was a little crazy and funny, too. I have good memories of Jody as well.
"I think they are people who will be good for the fans. Although, just because you are a great player, it doesn’t mean you will be a good manager."
As with any new manager, there will be winners and losers in the dressing room when they come into a club. The Derby boss will have to work under a transfer ban at Stamford Bridge, which will likely lead him to promote loanees and academy prospects in the first team next season.
Those players who were successful under the now Juventus coach Sarri may be in trouble under Lampard. Italy international midfielder Jorginho has become one star who is beginning to have his future discussed as there are mixed reports about whether he will stay or leave after just one season at the club.
Dalla Bona, who played for Napoli like Jorginho, believes that the 27-year-old is unpopular with fans at Stamford Bridge because he cannot match up to other midfielders from the Roman Abramovich era.
"I think he is a good player who plays simple passes to make the team balanced and he stays always in his position," Dalla Bona continued. "However, I think compared to other players Chelsea has had in that position like Lampard, Ballack and Essien… so many players, of course, maybe the fans can be disappointed about Jorginho.
"He is a good player but probably not a top player. He makes good passes but not goals, and physically he is not so big, he never arrives in the box. For a midfielder, I expect something else. I think midfielders can master more than just the minimum of passing."