Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has heaped praise on manager Frank Lampard for the job he is doing at Stamford Bridge – but admits he did not see his old team-mate becoming a coach.
Blues legend Lampard took the reigns in west London after leaving Derby County last summer – thrusted into a huge role early in his career – but exceeded expectations by leading the team to the Champions League in his first season despite being under a transfer embargo.
Chelsea remain in contention for success this season with just four points separating them from top spot in the Premier League, and Essien said he was impressed by Lampard as the club is ‘not an easy place to go’.
But he said despite seeing as an obvious ‘leader’ in the dressing room, the ex-Ghana star did not envisage the 42-year-old making a foray into management.
‘He [Lampard] was one of the leaders [in the dressing room]. I didn’t really see that he would end up becoming a manager. Knowing Frank, he’s very quiet and calm and does his thing,’ he told talkSport.
‘I’m not surprised he took on that job. He knows Chelsea very well and it’s very good for him and I wish him all the best.
‘Yes [I have been impressed] because Chelsea is not an easy place to go as a manager or player. His first year he was not allowed to make a lot of signings, but he still managed to do well. It’s a big credit to him and hopefully, they will do even better this season.’
Essien, 37, will go down as an icon at Stamford Bridge having played 256 times for the club, starring alongside Lampard in midfield and helping to win eight trophies, including two Premier League titles and the Champions League.
He is now a player-coach at FC Nordsjaelland in the Danish Superliga, and admitted he had not considered a future in management for long.
Essien said he was ‘the sort of the person that takes decisions when they come’, and feels he has ‘a lot to give to the young ones’ at the club after making a start on his coaching badges.
Reflecting on his managerial influences, he picked up Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho as the best he had worked under, with Essien being part of the Special One’s early dominance in 2005 that saw him win back-to-back titles.
‘He [Mourinho] would be the first one for me [in terms of managers I have worked under],’ he added.
‘He’s a still a great manager. I worked under him and we had a very good relationship, and I had a very good relationship with [Carlo] Ancelotti as well. Those two are very good managers.
‘They’ve all played a part in my career and development. It’s great to look back and reflect on what aspects they taught me and I will take that on board [in my coaching career].’
Source: Daily Mail