Former City boss Paul Lambert today opted to draw a diplomatic veil over his final weeks at Carrow Road insisting that he ‘will never forget’ his three, extraordinary years in Norfolk.
The 42-year-old Scot was today officially unveiled as Aston Villa manager as his former employers moved ever closer to their own, new appointment – Blues boss Chris Hughton, who is now widely expected to be formally appointed as Lambert’s successor within the next 24 hours.
That would appear to be the logical conclusion after Birmingham City this morning – reluctantly – gave Norwich the permission they sought to speak to their manager.
For their part, the Canaries confirmed that permission had been formally sought – and now granted. Everything appeared to be by both the book and the letter as the City board moved with impressive precision in their quest to deliver a new man at the helm ASAP.
They will, inevitably, have a hard act to follow given the level of Lambert’s achievements over those three, remarkable seasons – three seasons that will live long in the memory of all concerned.
“I have nothing but praise for Norwich,” said Lambert, at today’s official unveiling.
“And I will always be proud of what we have done as a group – it is a part of my life that will stay with me and I will never forget it,” he added, heaping his traditional praise on Norwich’s ever-loyal supporters.
“The fanbase was always pivotal to what happened,” said the new Villa chief, refusuing to elaborate on his precise reasons for jumping ship this summer.
One strongly suspects that the truth will never wholly out; that both sides will have their own thoughts as to why it came to an end in the manner that it did.
Football being football, everyone will move on. The king will be dead, long live the next king…
“I had my reasons [for leaving], which will probably remain private and I don’t want to keep going back to that,” was Lambert’s word on the matter. In every likelihood, his final word.
Inevitably the name Grant Holt cropped up. The 31-year-old City skipper still has a transfer request lodged in the next manager’s in-tray.
Equally inevitably, speculation has linked Holt to an early reunion with Lambert at Villa Park.
Today, his former boss insisted that such talk was just that – all talk.
“I have honestly not given it one thought,” he said.
Lambert’s arrival in the Villa hot-seat was duly welcomed by David McNally’s counterpart at Villa Park – chief executive Paul Faulkner.
“Paul’s track record speaks for itself,” Faulkner told today’s Press conference.
“We were very clear from the start the type of manager we wanted. We wanted somebody young to bring the vibrancy back to the club.
“When we were able to meet with Paul, it was totally clear he was the right man for Aston Villa. We’ve got to freshen up the squad. It’s about making sure we are up there challenging in the top half of the table.”