Reading 1-2 Derby County, as the English football season gets underway.
By the end of the 90 minutes, the Derby County faithful were chanting their new manager’s name. Just a few minutes prior, former Manchester United prospect Tom Lawrence had given Derby their first lead of the match, in the 4th minute of added-on time, completing a come-from-behind win to begin the season. Certainly a super ending to a super debut for Suuuuuper, Super Frank!
Lampard’s competitive debut as manager got off to a nervous start. Maybe not from the manager himself, looking all suave in a jacket but no tie, two buttons unbuttoned to smile in the face of pressure and expectations — backed up by coaches Jody Morris, Shay Given, Chris Jones, and others looking all serious in the dugout. But his players were not exactly putting on a show, and veteran Richard Keogh, a Derby mainstay for almost a decade, was especially guilty of a couple horrendous giveaways in defense. Fellow veteran Scott Carson in goal came up big multiple times to keep the game scoreless at half-time. The Rams did not manage a single shot on target.
Derby started better in the second half, with passes forward, not just sideways, and the youngsters in midfield and attack (Mount, Wilson, Lawrence, Lowe) starting to sparkle as one might expect given their individual pedigrees (Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, and one of Derby’s own, respectively). So of course it were Redding who jumped out ahead.
After veteran David Nugent had a goal ruled out (correctly) for offside for Lampard’s side, Jón “Big Daði” Böðvarsson (not sure if that’s his nickname, but it certainly should be) nodded the hosts in front. Incidentally, Reading are currently managed by former Derby boss Paul Clement, whom of course we know from his time as Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant as well as a youth & reserves coach at Chelsea. Reading also count former Chelsea standout John Swift among their numbers — the youngster’s coming off an injury-ravaged season and put in a solid 66-minute shift today.
They may have conceded the opener, but Derby weren’t behind for long. And as providence would have it, it was young Chelsea loanee Mason Mount who leveled proceedings, buying his ticket from long range and cashing in as the ball squirmed through Vito Mannone’s Arsenal-esque fingers. Mount now have 8 goals in his last 7 competitive games for Vitesse and Derby combined, and that would be ridiculous even for the man he calls his idol, and who was standing in front of the Derby dugout for much of the game in a mildly subdued Conte-esque performance.
There was still half an hour to play after Mount’s goal and Derby looked ready to push on for the winner. That it took them until basically the final kick of the match was perhaps unfortunate, but all that much sweeter.
The players made a pile, the fans went wild, and there were hugs all around. A perfect start to Lampard’s managerial life.