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Coach or pundit? What next for Frank Lampard

The Premier League Show

Gary Lineker goes behind the scenes at New York City FC for the Premier League Show at 22:00 BST on Wednesday on BBC Two and the BBC Sport website.

When I met up with Frank Lampard in New York earlier this month, it was clear how much he is loving life in the United States at the moment.

Lampard got a bit of criticism from fans when he first joined New York City FC, but he has really turned things round in the past few months after coming back from injury.

He is obviously a very intelligent footballer who, even at the age of 38, has played a big part in their run to the MLS play-offs.

Off the pitch he is really settled too, and we looked at the different aspects of his new life in an in-depth interview that you can see in this week’s Premier League Show (at 22:00 BST on Wednesday on BBC Two).

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Frank Lampard ‘loving life’ in US

He feels the move has broadened his horizons and it obviously suits him in every sense to be abroad at this stage of his career.

When you are at the end of your playing days, like Lampard is, and you go to play in a country like the US where the game is growing, then part of your role is to spread the word and act as a kind of ambassador for football. It was the same with me when I went to Japan in the early 1990s.

Lampard is bright and passionate for the game so is the perfect person to do that. He is also a thoroughly good professional as well as someone who was a world-class player, even if his powers have waned.

It was fascinating talking to him about a range of topics, but I found it particularly interesting when he spoke about what he plans to do when he retires.

Why top players like Lampard should be fast-tracked as coaches

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Lampard has scored 12 goals in 19 games for New York City FC this season

Lampard says he is very keen on getting into coaching, which is not a path too many English players of his calibre have taken recently when their playing days ended.

Part of that is down to them having other options. Punditry is one of them and I am sure he would be very good at it – there would be plenty of people trying to get him to work for them.

But it would be nice to see someone like Lampard go into the coaching game, with his intelligence and passion and especially because he wants to test himself as a manager.

We do not make it very easy for former players like him, though, because earning the coaching badges he would need to manage in the Premier League can take ex-professionals up to four and a half years if they go through the Football Association. That is an eternity.

We should have a fast-track system for some of these ex-players, because they understand the game anyway, and they also need a bit more encouragement to get their badges.

It is all very well saying ‘why don’t they take them while they are playing?’ but it takes too much time and effort and, when you are an international player, football is almost a year-round occupation.

I don’t think we will lose Lampard to the game because of the time he takes to become qualified, because he is too important for that. He can come and work on TV – with me, for example. That would be great.

But, seriously, it would be nice to see more English players like him who have experience at the very top going into coaching and management, because it is hard to think of any who have played at his level and are currently in management.

Vieira’s coaching career has already started

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Vieira took charge of New York City FC in November 2015

While I was in New York I spoke to another Premier League legend who is cutting his teeth in the managerial world – Patrick Vieira, who is Lampard’s manager at New York City FC.

After a tricky start where his side lost their derby match 7-0 to New York Red Bulls in May, he is now doing really well. We tell the story of how he did it on the show.

Vieira took his time before taking his first major job but he has got there now. You can tell how much he is enjoying coaching, and that the players really like him, including Frank.

We talked about his coaching ambitions, how he likes his sides to play and about some of the difficulties of having a few great players like Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa at New York City, and others in the squad with much less ability.

He spoke about how he had worked under so many coaches like Arsene Wenger, Fabio Capello, Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini, and what he has picked up from them.

But ultimately he is trying to find his own way – his own managerial style. We all remember him as a wonderful player, but he seems to be turning into a really good coach as well.

Vieira stuck with his philosophy of playing out from the back even when results were not going well for him when he first took charge, which says a lot about his mental strength as a manager.

Not many MLS teams play that way full-stop, let alone have success with it, which also speaks volumes.

Football is growing in the US – and the Premier League is too

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New York City FC are based at the iconic Yankee Stadium, home of baseball team New York Yankees

As well as catching up with Lampard and Vieira, and seeing how New York City are progressing, I got the chance to find out first-hand how popular football – or soccer as they would call it – is in the US.

Two things were obvious. Firstly that interest is growing rapidly in the sport as a whole and also how big the Premier League has become over there, as well as their own football.

Everyone watches the English games, which are on all the time on NBC. We went behind the scenes with them a little bit, to see them watching us, and their coverage is excellent.

I am not surprised because I worked for NBC for a couple of years and you could see the people there just wanted to make it work.

Their viewing numbers are getting bigger and bigger too, which demonstrates how the Premier League is a global success now, and hugely popular around the world.

Our games are not always the best but they are exciting, which is what people love to see.

They are helping to make football bigger in the US, in the same way having people like Lampard and Vieira in the MLS is spreading the word too.

Gary Lineker was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37769929