It’s an argument that a generation fought over. Who exactly has been the best English player in Premier League history?
We can debate this all day, but instead of doing that, perhaps we should look at their lives after the heat of battle, when the boots finally came off.
Among the debate, the likes of Scholes, Neville, Carragher, Ferdinand, Shearer and Gerrard all seem to be lacking.
The thing with Lampard on the field is that he was also so polished and polite. That couldn’t really apply to the above.
Each and every one of them had a common quality – and that was footballing IQ. So, if we remove that common denominator, we need to assess the extra-curriculars.
Lampard’s approach was always refreshing and he balanced greatness with no dark undertones. We’re now seeing that come to fruition in one of the toughest divisions in the world to manage in as he leads Derby County. Their fightback on Saturday against a rejuvenated Southampton shows the spirit and ethos he’s instilled in his short time at the club.
It’s telling how his contemporaries have struggled in, or avoided entirely, this challenge.
Paul Scholes is a woeful pundit who relies on clichés and perennially looks like someone spat in his burger. He’s only brought into studios because of his array of passing – which, last time I checked, doesn’t help you in broadcasting.
Rio Ferdinand is a better pundit, but that’s only because of his quirky nature. There isn’t a whole lot of substance to what he says and usually he’s there as a counterpoint to someone who can analyse a tad better.
Alan Shearer is the best striker in the history of the Premier League and his PR-stunt of an appointment at Newcastle United saw them relegated, in spite of a suggested increase in pride due to their manager being a local legend.
It’s no wonder that club is falling over itself annually.
Neville and Carragher’s analysis is good, but it’s overstated and that’s only because of the drop-off to the alternatives.
Gary’s spell in Valencia might have taught him a few things, but one of those things is that constantly harping on about Manchester United’s identity being mistreated doesn’t actually teach you anything about working in football.
It’s never been more obvious that he’s pining for the United job and praying that American owners take a page out of the Vegas chapter of business management and hire a TV celebrity.
You can make a good case for Steven Gerrard being a front-runner in this category, but Celtic are a blubbering mess at the moment and the SPL simply isn’t a barometer for management on a major level.
In typical Lampard-like fashion, Frank took a job that, in truth, he wasn’t qualified for, but has engaged well enough to keep Derby in contention.
And while many can cite patriotism as a fallback, Lampard is following the Englishman whose managerial hype machine only falls second to Gareth Southgate, that being Gary Rowett.
Objectively, Frank Lampard hasn’t wasted his time dawdling around trying to sound intelligent. He did his badges, brought a cursed entity in Derby County right back into automatic promotion contention and does so with dignity.
There’s always been something likeable about Lampard and his manner alone could land him a bigger job than the Rams post.
But, unlike his Premier League counterparts from yesterday, he’s busy enhancing his reputation instead of resting on it.