The Birmingham Mail this morning all-but confirmed what the vast majority of Canary fans have come to know in the last 12 hours – that Paul Lambert is set to be the new Aston Villa boss.
The Midlands club were expected to go through the formal process of asking Norwich’s permission to speak to the Scot today, but there is a very real sense that that particular horse has already bolted.
‘Villa are poised to name Paul Lambert as their new manager after deciding that the Norwich City boss is the man to bring the good times back to Villa Park,’ the paper reported this morning – thereby standing up the overnight story in The Sun who had Lambert walking out on the Canaries after they, apparently, refused to let him speak to Villa.
As ever, it is all one, long story of smokes and mirrors; ‘representatives’ speaking to other ‘representatives’ without anyone – formally – ever speaking to anyone else.
For now, the Canaries were keeping their own counsel. SkySports were this morning reporting that Lambert’s ‘representatives’ were due to talk to the Villa people today; that relations between Lambert and the club had been ‘strained’ of late and that Sven Goran Eriksson’s agent, Athole Still, was the man in charge of negotiations on behalf of his latest managerial client.
All that matters is the end result; Villa get a new boss – the one that their own supporters were crying out for in that final game of the season – whilst Norwich are seen to fight ‘tooth and nail’ to keep their prized managerial asset, before bowing to the inevitable and moving swiftly onto life PL. Post-Lambert.
Birmingham boss Chris Hughton was the bookies’ early favourite.
But he won’t be alone in seeing the Norwich gig as a real prize this summer.
Ex-Canary favourite Malky Mackay would dearly love the chance to re-visit old haunts after proving his worth at both Watford and Cardiff; Gus Poyet will have his admirers. He might, for example, open up a whole new recruitment philosophy if the English lower league market has already been plundered by Lambert and his scouts.
The interesting one would be Lambert’s No2, Ian Culverhouse.
If he ever harboured any ambition to be the Peter Taylor to Lambert’s Brian Clough and give this managerial lark a go himself, now might be the time.
The suspicion remains that ‘Team Lambert’ – one that includes Gary Karsa within that Colney ‘boot room’ – will move en masse up the A14 as Culverhouse continues to enjoy the lower profile that comes with being in the coaching background.
You don’t have to look far to find who else employs such a close-knit model – Martin O’Neill always comes complete with Steve Walford as his coach and John Robertson as his eyes and ears around the dressing room and training ground.
As for Villa’s attraction, one point is worth repeating.
Given the fact that they only escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth, the only way Lambert can take them is up; he is walking into a club for whom a mid-table finish a la Norwich would be seen as a triumphant first season. Scratch around the edges of the top two ‘tiers’ as their 35,000-strong home fan base would allow and Lambert’s star would remain firmly in the ascendant.
There is, equally, little doubt that the Canary chief had been straining at the leash for a while in terms of the wage ceiling he is expected to work to – and the players that he is able to recruit as a result.
The big bucks always go to the guys that score the goals; the fact that a Villa will offer a Darren Bent £70,000 a week to ply his trade in the Premier League may make US owner Randy Lerner swallow hard given his actual, goal-scoring returns and the club’s continuing debt position, but the spirit is more willing to go to such levels than it ever will be in Norwich.
As for Norwich’s attraction to potential successors, provided not every bridge has been burnt with skipper Grant Holt of late, whoever walks into the job will have an enviable array of young and hungry talents to work with.
There will be no need for a yard-sale of under-achievers; a tweak here, a twiddle there and with the right man management, there is no reason why the Canaries can’t continue to bed themselves down comfortably in the midst of that Premier League table.
Lee M says
What debt ??? Randy has been making a loss due to the high wage bill left unchecked by MON, but its his own money, not the banks or shareholders like Liverpool and UTD etc … , new club financial guide lines and wage limits in place now so the deficit will balance itself out. We will still pay well and buy players, just a more efficient approach than MON and his £10m Curtis Davies, £8m Reo Coker type of buys. UTV
Can’t see Chris Hughton taking over at a team that will struggle in the PL next season.
O we will struggle again, and I have no doubts that we will prove them all wrong again. Paul Lambert or No Paul Lambert.
We couldnt see Lambert moving to a team that will struggle in the PL next season but it looks like he is going to!
Not that I believe that it’s the done deal that many would have us believe at this moment in time, but the opportunity is definitely there for Paul Lambert to move on to better things, and take the reins at the fifth most successful (points wise) club in premier league history.
With that fact in mind, being manager of AVFC remains a very attractive proposition, with a fan base of closer to 40,000 ready and willing to rally around the cause, once a sign of the return to the days of the three top six finishes under Martin O’Neill becomes evident.
Yes, currently the club is in disarray, but Lambert has to be well aware of all that the Villa Park position offers him. There are few bigger clubs in the country.
Good Luck to Norwich City. You’ll move on, build on last seasons promising efforts, but one thing is for certain. With a new man at the helm, be it Paul Lambert or whoever, the Aston Villa that arrive at Carrow Road next season, will be a far cry from the shambles that turned up (or didn’t turn up more like)just a few short weeks ago.
Better than managing a team that will struggle in the Championship though eh?
Fantastic news if we can get Paul Lambert. But, I hope the board realise that he will need some serious backing to get a very poor squad up to scratch. And, I hope the fans give PL the time required to build something sustainable at Villa, because we’ve proved that boom soon turns to bust.
Why do all Villa fans appear to be so spiteful, bitter and twisted? Well done, you’ve managed to tempt your next manager from what you perceive is a “smaller” club. But for heaven’s sake see the wood for the trees – he’s going to you because he can’t lose and when he has taken you to the edge of the top 6 (which I have no doubt he will) he’ll leave you to move on again (Spurs, Everton, Arsenal etc) i.e. a bigger team than you.
Like us, enjoy him while you can, but don’t give us all this “we are better than you” cobblers. Cos at the moment, lads – you ain’t!
Lambert has no ambition if he takes a step backwards to join a has been club that has some ancient belief that they are a top half premier league club let alone a top 6.
I agree sgncfc, there is no need for villa fans to spiteful etc, however Norwich fans are no better. Take Tony’s comment below yours as an example. If one season outside the top half of the prem makes Villa a has been club, then one season in the prem does not make Norwich a big club. Yes, they were shocking last season, and will almost certainly struggle again next season without huge investment, however I can’t see how anyone could say that the villa job is not more attractive than the Norwich one, based on any measure other than one seasons league position. Yes, if he is successful he will almost certainly attract a bigger club, but unfortunately that is how football, has been, is, and always will be. Let’s not forget you poached him from a club that had just beaten you 7-1, was that a backward step for him ?
All Villa fans are spiteful, bitter and twisted??? Hell of a statement from someone who has never met me and has no idea what my views are….very close to slander.
Morgan Villa says
A lot of the Villa fans have become spiteful because a few Norwich fans posted a load of tripe on our forums. Norwich were better than us last season but Villa are a bigger club and i say this with no malice.
I hope you get Hughton he is a very good manager and i pray you dont end up with McLeish who is by far the worst football manager in the history of the game.
Thanks for Lambert and good luck to the canaries for next season except against the mighty Villains