Michael Ballack is “not surprised” by his former Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard’s early success as head coach at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard, who left the club in 2014 before ending his playing career two years later, returned to Chelsea this summer after just one season in charge of Derby in the Sky Bet Championship.
After an inconsistent start to the campaign, Chelsea has gone on a seven-match winning run in all competitions, with a youthful selection policy and attractive style of play earning Lampard widespread praise.
Asked if he was surprised by Lampard’s start, Ballack said: “No, not really, because if you are talented – if you know football and if you are a really hard worker, which he was always as a player – I could imagine he’s the same as a coach, and obviously he is.
“I think he likes to prepare well before a game and that’s really important as a manager, to have that talent to actually prepare things and not thinking you know the game and that’s it.
“I think managing is much more than understanding football. It’s a lot about preparing and also dealing with human beings in a certain way and this is a process, and even when he’s just starting that process, he’s already doing that on a high, high level, and I think he can be a very good manager.”
Ballack played alongside fellow central midfielder Lampard during the former Germany captain’s four seasons at the club from 2006 to 2010, winning the Premier League once and the FA Cup twice.
“When I played with him, I was not thinking that he could be a manager because we were so into our game,” Ballack said.
“But from a character point, of course, he was a leader, he was somebody who was really, really competitive and he really loved football.
“And I think he comes from a family where his dad was playing at a high level, so there was something in the family – and you could feel that in him as a person that maybe after his career he would love to work in football.
“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for him to work at his club and get this opportunity to show his talent as a manager.”