Given makes unlikely rise in Villa ranks
SHAY GIVEN has been promoted to joint assistant manager of Aston Villa on a temporary basis along with Gordon Cowans amid mounting speculation that manager Paul Lambert is facing the sack.
Given has been cast into the unlikely role as a result of the suspension of Villa No 2 Ian Culverhouse and head of football operations Gary Karsa pending an internal inquiry.
It's a strange development considering that the 37-year-old has been frozen out of the first-team squad by Lambert and previously indicated that he is keen to move away in the summer after enjoying a successful loan spell at Middlesbrough. He has two years remaining on his £60,000-a-week contract.
However, while the Donegal native believes that he has a few years left as a player, he has refused to rule out a move into management in the longer term and has already got his UEFA 'A' and 'B' licences.
Neither Culverhouse nor Karsa are expected to return to their positions.
Speaking after Villa's 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace last Saturday, Lambert alluded to "things" going on "behind the scenes" and it is believed that Culverhouse and Karsa, who had worked with Lambert in each of his three previous managerial posts at Wycombe, Colchester and Norwich, have fallen out with key players and staff.
A Villa source insisted that the decision had been made with Lambert's blessing, stressing that "the manager's position here is rock-solid", and the Scot himself said: "I'm delighted to have Gordon and Shay to assist me in preparing the team for Saturday, which is what the whole group is focused on."
However, dissent is growing among Villa's fanbase, who have seen a record 10 home league losses this term and no signs of progress in Lambert's second season. Villa host Southampton on Saturday looking to avoid a fifth successive defeat.