Paul Lambert set for £2m pay-off after Villa sacking
Aston Villa have sacked Paul Lambert in a bid to halt the club's seemingly inexorable slide towards the Championship.
Lambert's stormy two and a half year reign was ended last night after talks between Randy Lerner, the chairman, and Tom Fox, the chief executive, with the club already focusing on appointing a replacement.
Fox was poised to fly out to meet Lerner in New York in what had been a scheduled summit, but the decision to dismiss Lambert was taken after Villa's defeat at Hull City on Tuesday dragged the club into the Premier League's bottom three.
Lambert faced renewed chants for his dismissal from supporters at the KC Stadium and Lerner made his move less than 24 hours later, amid growing fears that the club would be relegated under the Scot.
Villa have won just twice in 21 games and although Lambert signed a new contract in September, results and performances have been dreadful for months. The team have also scored only one goal in nearly 13 hours of Premier League football.
Lambert gave Villa's players the day off yesterday but was at the club's Bodymoor Heath training ground in the morning before receiving the grim news from Fox later.
Lerner usually telephones Lambert after games but did not make a call to him after the Hull match, suggesting that the decision had already been made that night. Villa's move is likely to cost them around £2m in compensation for Lambert.
Lerner is expected to fly back to England to assist the search for a -successor to Lambert, with the struggling club intent on making an appointment after the FA Cup game against Leicester City on Sunday.
Tim Sherwood, the former Totten-ham Hotspur head coach, is emerging as a serious contender barely a week after talks with Queens Park Rangers collapsed.
Sherwood is available and could agree a short-term deal until the end of the season. He was spotted at Villa Park last year, though his visit was purely coincidental, and is determined to return to the top flight.
Lerner is also an admirer of Derby County's Steve McClaren, but the former England manager is determined to lead the club into the Premier League.
McClaren was interviewed by Villa in 2011 but Lerner panicked over a potential backlash from supporters before making the mystifying -decision to recruit Alex McLeish, who had left Villa's bitter rivals Birmingham City.
David Moyes, who was sacked by Manchester United towards the end of last season, is another manager known to interest Lerner but he is now rebuilding his reputation in La Liga with Real Sociedad.
Lerner's next decision is certain to be crucial, however, with Villa in -genuine danger of surrendering their top-flight status.
A club statement read: "Aston Villa Football Club has parted company this evening with manager Paul -Lambert. First-team coach Scott Marshall and goalkeeping coach Andy Marshall will continue to prepare the squad for Sunday's FA Cup tie with Leicester City at Villa Park.
"The club would also like to place on record its thanks to Paul and take this opportunity to wish him every success in the future. The club will announce a new manager in due course."
Lambert's sacking comes less than a month after Fox claimed that blaming managers for poor results was a "false narrative".
He had also pledged his support for the 45-year-old and even admitted that Aston Villa needed to do more to assist Lambert.
However, Villa have been in freefall for months and Lerner has been pressed into action after the team's defeat at Hull took the Midlands club to 10 league games without a win.
However, it was perhaps other events that day which may have finally jolted the absent American to his senses.
After the record £5.14billion television deal, Lerner could not possibly contemplate missing out on the untold riches by dropping out of the Premier League.
He only needs to look at the likes of Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday for evidence that it is a long way back.
Stan Collymore, the former Villa forward, tweeted last night: "Right time for Lambert to move on. Must get the right man now."
Villa are now in the bottom three of the Premier League for the first time this season and Joe Cole, the former England international, has demanded an instant reaction.
"We were devastated with the Hull result and in the next league game we need to be right on it," Cole said. "We have to stand together and stick together." (Daily Telegraph, London)