RARELY can Frank Lampard have imagined his first season at Pride Park culminating in this, the merciless mocking of Leeds United supporters to the tune of an old Oasis favourite.
That, though, was the reality for the 40-year-old as Derby County slumped to a third defeat of the season against the Elland Road club.
Cue the 2,860 travelling fans, clearly determined to settle a few scores with Lampard following his part in fuelling the ‘Spygate’ saga that eventually cost Marcelo Bielsa a £200,000 fine, launching into a mischievous re-working of the 2002 hit ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’.
“All of the spies are hidden away,” they sang over and over again in the direction of the home dugout. “Try not to worry ‘cos’ you’ll beat us some day.
“We beat you at home and we beat you away, stop crying Frank Lampard ... stop crying Frank Lampard.”
Like his well-beaten Derby side, Lampard could only suck up the abuse. And hope to have the last laugh on his tormentors come Wednesday night at Elland Road.
To do so, however, the former Chelsea midfielder is going to have to come up with something different to this third meeting between these old foes.
Derby, after a bright start, were too easily nullified by Leeds. Much has been said and written about Mason Mount, the prodigiously talented Chelsea loanee, but he barely did anything of note.
Harry Wilson, another to enjoy a big reputation, also struggled, while Tom Lawrence gave up long before the end trying to get any joy out of Luke Ayling.
With Bradley Johnson also unable to bring his customary bite to proceedings against a midfield who simply passed the ball round the former Leeds man, how Derby’s Lampard must have pined to have a Lampard in his Chelsea pomp to throw into the fray. For the first 45 minutes, he stood ramrod still. There was more touchline animation after the break but his urgings were all to no avail, with United always looking the more likely to find the second goal once Kemar Roofe had broken the deadlock.
Lampard went to Stamford Bridge and won every domestic honour in the game, plus the Champions League. Leeds signed Seth Johnson.Richard Sutcliffe
Sure, Derby had the penalty that wasn’t.
Had the award stood and the spot-kick duly converted, things could have been very different. But, really, Leeds were full value for a first leg victory that leaves Lampard and his players with it all to do.
“We have nothing to lose,” said the Rams chief when asked about how best to approach the return leg. “We are 1-0 down, people will write us off.
“The feeling on the pitch that the game was done – for us it has to be the opposite of that.”
Lampard, of course, has history with Leeds.
And not just ‘Spygate’, with the Romford-born midfielder once having got as far as driving up the M1 to discuss a possible move from West Ham United.
United had made the right noises about matching the Hammers’ £14m valuation and a move to Elland Road appealed.
Rio Ferdinand had made the same journey from Upton Park a year or so earlier and not looked back, while West Yorkshire was also a long way from the charges of nepotism still being aimed at Lampard from certain sections of the Hammers support.
His meeting with David O’Leary, however, did not go well. Lampard later recalled in his autobiography, ‘Totally Frank’, how he was left with the feeling the Leeds manager had no firm plan as to how best to use his talents.
“The kind of things I would have thought essential when weighing up spending that kind of money,” he wrote.
“Not a bit of it. Even though the whole experiment at Leeds proved to be as flimsy as the cheques which financed it, I thought the manager would at least have a vision of where I slotted into his plans.”
Claudio Ranieri, in contrast, had very firm ideas about how Lampard would improve his Chelsea side.
So, he went to Stamford Bridge and won every domestic honour in the game, plus the Champions League.
Leeds, meanwhile, signed Seth Johnson.
Lampard very much had the last laugh in that instance. But can he do the same on Wednesday? A fascinating night awaits.