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Lampard and Gerrard’s heroics could see them take over at Chelsea and Liverpool one day

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It was Wednesday night and he had just reduced The Sage of Elland Road, Marcelo Bielsa, to the status of Old Man on a Bucket as his Derby side had become the first to overturn a home deficit in the history of the Championship play-offs.

An hour after taking Derby County to within 90 minutes of the Premier League, and with his immaculate black shoes in danger of sticking to the beer-impregnated floor of Howard’s bar, the emotional overload involved in football management had struck home.

Lampard had been pacing his technical area, physically unable to stand still, as another football tale of the unexpected - complete with comebacks, cards and comedy defending unfolded.

The relief at the final whistle as the cork came out of the bottle at the final whistle and he led the arrowhead invasion of the pitch by the Derby bench was all too clear.

This was what he had signed up for as a football manager.

Lampard’s first season in the job is already a resounding success with the cup scalps of Manchester United and Southampton trousered as well but it is within 90 minutes of becoming alchemy as Wembley beckons.

Up in Glasgow Steven Gerrard, will take charge of the last match in his debut season as a manager against Kilmarnock on Sunday. It will be a quieter conclusion with the Scottish League title already wrapped up by Celtic.

Rangers have made progress under Gerrard, accruing more points than last season under Graeme Murty, beating Celtic twice and moving up a place in the table to second. Their defence has tightened considerably. But hampered by a rash of red cards, including a titanic five for striker Alfredo Morelos, they will end the season with a bare cupboard and no final appearances.

First blood then in Lampard-Gerard, The Sequel, goes to Lampard.

The pair’s rivalry as midfield driving forces for Chelsea and Liverpool - and uncomfortable teammates with England – was a career-long saga as players.

Both insisted there was a mutual respect but Gerrard once described it as war when the pair met on the pitch.

As managers, their paths are more unpredictable. Great players do not necessarily turn into great managers – see Diego Maradona or Alan Shearer. It can be hard for the gods of sport to compute why lesser talents cannot drill a cross-field pass to within a blade of grass of its intended destination.

There is no concrete guarantee either will make a long-term success of the role. At some point the kudos their status commands amongst players who saw them as idols will fade.

But from their shared drive and work ethic, it is more likely than not that Lampard and Gerrard will be crossing swords directly in the Premier League in years to come - perhaps even back at Chelsea and Liverpool.

The timeline on that is vacancy-dependent. While Maurizio Sarri’s position at Stamford Bridge looks chronically unstable, it is hard to imagine Jurgen Klopp moving on from Liverpool in the near future.

Lampard and Gerrard both need to put more managerial miles on their clocks before then but they are pre-programmed to compete at the highest level.

Why else would two multi-millionaires want to put themselves through the exquisite pain of management when they could be sipping rum punches on a palm-fringed Caribbean beach?




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