Frank Lampard has no doubts over José Mourinho's elite credentials as he prepares to face his old boss in Derby County's EFL Carabao Cup trip to Old Trafford tonight. Manchester United's mixed start to the season continued at the weekend as Wolves claimed a 1-1 draw away in Manchester. Mourinho's capacity to rouse a Premier League title challenge and his relationship with key players, such as Paul Pogba, have come under the microscope.
Mou still special - Lampard
But Lampard, who is taking his first steps in management with Derby having starred under Mourinho during his Chelsea days, believes United's two trophies under the Portuguese in 2016-17 show his enduring capabilities.
"When you’re the manager of Manchester United, when you have the CV and the background of José Mourinho – and this is not ancient history, this is fresh history, the Europa League, the League Cup – then of course you have it," he told reporters. "In terms of the 'special one' and that, those are just words. In terms of being a great manager, of course he is."
Mourinho famously dubbed himself "a special one" during his initial news conference at Chelsea in 2004 before leading the club to back-to-back Premier League title triumphs.
"I saw it and I liked it. It was something different," Lampard recalled. "British culture is not to walk in and call yourself the 'special one', I don't think. That's the way he was and I admired him for it and actually, if you make those statements, you had better back them up, and he certainly did."
Strong family values
Aside from such bombast, it was the personal touch from Mourinho that made an impression with Lampard – even after he had left Stamford Bridge.
"He's strong on family. He was always like that as a manager," he added. "He was fantastic for me when I lost my mother actually. He was at Inter at the time and he was ringing me regularly. And it's things like that you don't forget. Whether he's managing here or there, and you see what's in the press, you actually remember the person, and those little things he did with me were very special."