FRANK LAMPARD is toasting his first managerial gong — but it is really a dog’s life.
Lampard is the first Chelsea boss since Antonio Conte nearly three years ago to win the Premier League Manager of the Month Award.
But if you thought his remarkable success since taking over in the summer was down to tactics, team selection and tenacity, then think again.
It is down to superstitious Lampard’s bizarre routines off the pitch — which help his lads hang on to a lead.
He said: “If I don’t do them, then I can feel like — ridiculously — as if it might have an effect on the result.
“I walk the dog at certain times and on certain days. And before training, I will walk her at a certain time, for a certain route.
“I take her out in the morning. I go out early before I leave, I take her down to the local coffee shop, get my takeaway coffee, walk around, pick up her s***, put it in the bin, walk her home, then go to training.
“It’s routine. Like walking the dog, or what time I leave, or the boots I wear in training, or little bits and bobs.
“It’s more routine than structure, which can be quite awkward.
“To be fair, I walk the dog a lot and I find it quite good for clearing the head. I like to go to the gym as well, that’s another one of my superstitions.
“I have to spend the same amount of time on the bike, 50 minutes, or the amount that I run. Things like that.
“I like going to the gym, walking the dog, I like eating pasta as a pre-match meal, I stick with certain things.
“I did it as a player. It was very commonplace in our dressing room.
“John Terry used to do it a lot. He was very structured in his build-up.
“For me, I think we are all different and I don’t completely rely on it. I joke a little bit, but I think it shows how much you want to do well and win sometimes, whether it has an effect or not.
“And I think if that’s in your mindset, that’s not the worst thing, albeit that it might become a bit annoying sometimes if you always stick to it.”
Whether it is Millie the Tibetan terrier or pedal power in the gym that is the real reason behind Chelsea’s surprise success this season, the facts speak for themselves.
Lampard, 41, leads the Blues out against Crystal Palace at lunchtime playing down the reward for his blistering start to management.
He is quick to accept the prize — but only on behalf of all the staff he says are working flat out behind the scenes.
Lampard said: “It is a good time to thank people at this club.
“They help me daily. There are people behind the scenes, particularly my close staff who put in the hours that we do, and the players who perform.”
The former midfielder is a relative baby in his new career compared to the ultimate veteran Roy Hodgson, 72, who will go up against him in the away dugout as Chelsea seek a sixth successive Premier League win.
Blues legend Lampard said: “I had huge respect when I played for England under him.
ACCA WITH LADBROKES Pick up a whole load of acca features to help you land the big one
“I loved how he was, his man- management, his enthusiasm for the game — and now seeing what he’s done at Palace.
“I was at a managers’ meeting with him last week.
“He is just always a gentleman and very smart.”