As widely expected and predicted, the Canary back-room duo of Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa have followed ex-City boss Paul Lambert up the A14 to Villa Park.
The pair have long been an integral part of ‘Team Lambert’ and while, initially, it was suggested that they could be part of a broader coaching structure under Chris Hughton, it was generally accepted that it would be a case of when, not if, they re-joined their former master in the Midlands.
The when was today.
“It’s great for them to be here at the club and I’m delighted they have joined me,” Lambert told the official Villa website, as his backroom staff of six years standing joined him at Villa.
“They have been with me for the past six years which is a long time and we’ve built up an understanding and a trust.
“I trust them and they have been great for me. We have always bounced well off each other and we’re all looking forward to the job at hand here at Villa.”
It brings to a close a second, sterling stint of service from Culverhouse – first as a player at the height of Norwich’s UEFA Cup powers and now as a coach; Lambert’s hugely influential No2 in City’s rise from the depths of League One to the heights of Spurs and Arsenal away this spring.
His place in the Hall Of Fame has long been assured as he tonight returns to Lambert’s side leaving Hughton’s own team of No2 Colin Calderwood and first team coach Paul Trollope to prepare for the start of pre-season training on Monday.
Hughton confirmed earlier this week that he was also looking to add 38-year-old goalkeeping coach Dave Watson to his pack after working with him at St Andrew’s.
Watson was, of course, part of Roy Hodgson’s England set-up in Poland and Ukraine this summer.
The Birmingham Mail today confirmed that Norwich had agreed to the compensation deal Watson’s switch would trigger back in the Midlands as ‘Team Hughton’ found itself a new member.
Back in Norfolk and Canary chief executive David McNally paid tribute to the departing members of ‘Team Lambert’ as the coaching merry-go-round span on.
“We’d like to place on record our sincere gratitude for the work that Ian and Gary did with Paul to lift us from the foot of League One to the Premier League,” McNally told the club’s official website today.
“They’re played a full part in a memorable and exciting era for the club and I’m sure Norwich fans will join everybody at Carrow Road in wishing them all the best for the future.”
Whether there was ever a moment this summer when Culverhouse pondered ‘doing a Peter Taylor’ and branching out on his own as opposed to staying alongside a Brian Clough may never be known.
The one-time Canary sweeper always appeared far happier away from the full-on media glare that comes with Premier League management – and was happy to do all his talking on the coaching pitch.
But as he heads for his fourth club at Lambert’s side following previous spells first at Wycombe and then Colchester before returning to Norfolk with Norwich, his role in City’s meteoric rise of late should not be underestimated.
Likewise, Karsa also brought something to the party – in the same way that John Robertson acts as the third string to Martin O’Neill’s bow; Steve Walford playing the part of Culverhouse.
The manager’s eyes and ears around the training ground and dressing room, Karsa presumeably ensured that Lambert remained well-versed in the mood of the building.
Whatever his precise role was, it worked. To spectacular effect in Norwich’s case.