Derby County owner Mel Morris is hoping that Frank Lampard will remain in charge of the club next season, but said it is inevitable his manager will be appointed by Chelsea at some point.
Chelsea were given permission by Derby on Tuesday to begin talks with Lampard over succeeding Juventus-bound Maurizio Sarri as their new head coach.
The 41-year-old made his step into coaching with the Championship side in 2018-19 and came within one win of guiding the club to Premier League promotion via the play-offs.
Lampard is widely expected to take over at Stamford Bridge in the coming days, and Morris does not begrudge the Chelsea great for wanting to return to his former club.
“When Frank met me for the first time, we talked about this opportunity and even then we knew at some stage this was going to happen. We just didn’t know when,” he told talkSPORT .
“We talked about that and we both probably thought it would be some way off and, let’s face it, right now it’s still not a done deal.
“Let’s be blunt, as far as I’m concerned I’m hoping this guy is going to manage us next season. I’m not giving up hope on that at the moment.
“But you’d have to say at some point it will happen – whether it’s now or some point in the future.
“For Frank Lampard it’s a win-win. He can’t lose in this situation.”
Derby are in line to pocket a reported £4 million in compensation from Chelsea for Lampard, who won 11 major honours during a 13-year playing career in West London.
When asked if he would have blocked Lampard’s exit had it been any other club that made an approach for his services, Morris admitted: “I think I probably would have been more critical – ‘why make this move?’
“Let’s say it was a low-half Premier League [club] coming along, I would have said, ‘Listen, another season with us and maybe we’ll be there, maybe two seasons, whatever it takes. Building something is worth doing’.
“But this is one of the top jobs in football and we have to respect that. It’s a huge decision for Chelsea – any manager decision is, it was for us last year. But I’ve got no regrets, however this works out.
“I have no regrets about Frank, whether he stays or goes. If he stays, fantastic, we’ll be in better shape next season than we were in this one for all sorts of reasons – the learning curve, the style of play being established, et cetera.”