Chelsea must respect Derby in Frank Lampard pursuit, says Michael Johnson

Frank Lampard, Derby manager

Former Derby captain and club ambassador, Michael Johnson, has urged Chelsea to "respect" the club in their pursuit of Frank Lampard.

Chelsea are expected to make a formal approach for Lampard after agreeing a deal with Juventus for head coach Maurizio Sarri to return to Italy. Derby, though, are yet to receive any contact from the Blues.

Johnson, who is currently in charge of the Guyana national side, thinks Derby would be able to prepare better for next season if Chelsea were more "open and transparent" in their pursuit of Lampard.

He said: "There has been no direct contact made by Chelsea, but you can't get away from the noises and it's probably going to be more 'when' than 'if'.

"From our side, from Derby's side, we want that little bit of respect from Chelsea's regard.

"If you're going to make the approach, just make the approach; be open and transparent about it.

CREWE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 11:  Michael Johnson of Derby County in action during the Coca-Cola Championship match between Crewe Alexandra and Derby County
Image: Johnson made 138 appearances for Derby over a five-year spell

"If we're going to move on, then allow us to make that process happen. If not, then let's squash all the rumours, allow the fans to relax, enjoy the summer and focus on Frank being our manager next year.

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"We want to keep him, we want him to be our manager and, if there is to be an approach from Chelsea, then let's be open and honest. The longer it goes on, the more disconnected we are as fans and as staff and that's not right."

Lampard is Chelsea's all-time leading goalscorer
Image: Lampard is Chelsea's all-time leading goalscorer

Lampard won three Premier League titles and a Champions League at Chelsea and Johnson can appreciate why he would want to return to Stamford Bridge.

"I understand, as a player, the pull. It's your former club, you spent a lot of years there, and you're a legend there," he said.

"People will talk about lack of experience, but there's no guarantee that experience will get you anywhere. I think it's very hard to hide behind that he's got a lack of experience.

Frank Lampard 0:50
Former Chelsea captain Dennis Wise says he is worried it could be too soon for Frank Lampard to return to the club as head coach

"What I would say is that it was a great year to be involved with Derby County and, hopefully under his leadership, they'll be many more!"

Lampard led Derby to the Championship play-off final, where they lost 2-1 to Aston Villa, in the 41-year-old's first season in management.

While Sky Sports News understands a number of candidates have contacted Derby about succeeding Lampard as manager, Johnson is keen to keep the Rams boss for at least another season.

"What he did for our club and the way we played at Derby last year, with the emphasis on youth, playing attractive football - it was exciting," said Johnson.

Frank Lampard celebrates as Derby County extend their lead at home to West Brom 0:31
Roberto Di Matteo says it is not too soon for Frank Lampard to become Chelsea manager because he has all the tools needed to succeed in the role

"This is one of the reasons that I know Mel Morris, our owner, will want him to stay because the brand of football we enjoyed was fantastic and we want another year of it."

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