Norwich City Football Club this afternoon ended 18 hours of fevered speculation by officially confirming that manager Paul Lambert had tendered his resignation en route to becoming the new manager of Aston Villa.
Or at least that was the expected outcome as Lambert’s ‘representatives’ – led by Sven Goran Eriksson’s agent Athole Still – continued to talk to Villa with regard to the managerial vacancy at Villa Park.
Lambert’s resignation had, the Canaries confirmed, been refused – in accordance with their oft-stated policy of ‘fighting tooth and nail’ to keep the Scot in Norfolk.
Events, however, had move on apace as Lambert seeks pastures new with or without the blessing of the Carrow Road board – his decision to quit Norwich for the challenges that await in the Midlands seemingly set in stone.
Though The Sun insisted Lambert departed in a fit of fury after being refused the opportunity to speak to his potential new employers, the Canaries said discussions between the parties had been ‘amicable and professional’ as the end of a glorious era in the club’s history drew ever closer.
Lambert could yet be unveiled as the new manager of Villa tomorrow as the Norfolk club start to set the ball rolling on their own ‘Plan B’.
‘The Club regrets to confirm that Paul Lambert has offered his resignation from the position of Norwich City manager,’ the official statement read.
‘We have fought hard to keep Paul at Norwich and have not accepted his resignation whilst discussions with another club are taking place,’ it added.
‘However, whatever happens, we want to place on record our sincere gratitude for everything Paul had done for the club over the last three, fantastic seasons.’
Which was, to all intents and purposes, the ‘Thank you and farewell!’ speech from the Carrow Road board, whose decision to whip the former Champions League winner out of Colchester United in the summer of 2009 proved to be a move of genius as one of the English game’s brightest managerial talents drove the Norfolk club onwards and upwards for the next three campaigns.
He has long been assured of a place in Canary folklore; the two trips to North London this spring and the 2-1 success at Spurs followed by the 3-3 draw with Arsenal at The Emirates are games that will live long in the memory of a generation of City supporters – right up there with Bayern Munich (a).
And whilst the manner of his exit might – briefly – leave a sour taste in the mouth, once the dust settles and life moves on with a new man at the Canary helm, so the Norfolk Nation will forever be in Lambert’s debt for hauling the club off the rocks of possible administration and sailing the good ship Canary into the warm, warm waters of the English Premier League.
‘When Paul joined us in August, 2009, we were in 66th position in the English football pyramid and the club was on the brink of financial meltdown,’ this afternoon’s statement confirmed.
‘Today we are a Barclays Premier League football club on a financially sound footing with a stadium full to capacity.’
Meanwhile, back in Birmingham and Villa keeper Shay Given was already rolling out the welcome mat as he digested events of the last 18 hours away in Italy.
“If that’s the case – I have no idea, because I am stuck in Italy somewhere, about what’s going on at Aston Villa – but if Paul was to come in, he would be a great appointment because he is a fantastic manager,” the Villa keeper told The Birmingham Mail this afternoon.
“Since he took the hot-seat at any club he has been at, he has just gone all the way up all the time, so hopefully if they can get that done, that would be great news for the club.”