Lambert keen to keep focus on pitch
An ongoing internal investigation means Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert is unable to shed further light on the suspension of Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa, though the Scot confirmed he has no intention of leaving the club himself.
Villa announced this week that assistant boss Culverhouse and head of football operations Karsa had been suspended, but no explanation was given.
Instead a brief statement focused on the temporary promotion of youth coach Gordon Cowans and out-of-favour goalkeeper Shay Given to Lambert's backroom team.
Anticipation, therefore, was high that Lambert would be able to reveal more about the surprise removal of two of his long-term lieutenants when he appeared at a weekly press conference ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Southampton.
But, in an occasionally tense exchange, he was committed to keeping his counsel.
"You need to appreciate that due to it being a legal investigation I can't really comment on anything," he said in a brief opening gambit.
Pressed for further information, he went on: "I've given a comment and I hope you respect that. I respect you asking the question and I think you have to respect my answer.
"If you want to talk about the football side of things and results I'm happy to answer."
Enquiries continued to focus on the elephant in the room, rather than the club's relegation battle or the arrival of Saints, but Lambert stuck resolutely to his chosen path.
"I'm expecting you to give me a question, but the statement I've given there is end of. If you want to ask me about the game, everything going on with the game and results, I'll happily answer."
When asked, finally, whether victory over Southampton and an upturn in form following four straight defeats would make the week's events worthwhile, he said: "I don't think anything's worth all this."
Whether he was referring to the suspensions, the investigation or simply the combative media conference was unclear.
While unable to elaborate on the situation involving Culverhouse and Karsa, Lambert was in a position to reflect on his own future.
A second disappointing season at the helm would be reason alone to place him on rocky ground, even without the uncertainty over his backroom team.
But owner Randy Lerner came out with a rare public comment on Wednesday hailing Lambert's "loyalty and commitment", apparently strengthening his position as boss.
And while he admits life at Villa Park has hardly been all he imagined when he arrived in June 2012, the former Norwich boss is planning on seeing the job through.
"My whole intent is to be here next year and the year after," he said.
"You've got to do the job day to day and go from there, and that's what I'm here to do.
"(Lerner) is the owner of the club and the chairman - it's his club and he can do what he wants - but I still have a good relationship with him.
"I love it here, it's a great club and a great fanbase. I never came here to Villa to be like this, no chance. The club's too big to be where it is - I recognised from day one when I walked through the door.
"This club should never be in the position it has been in for the last four years - never."