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Lambert's £1m bonus to keep Potters afloat

New Stoke City manager Paul Lambert Photo: Reuters/Carl Recine
New Stoke City manager Paul Lambert Photo: Reuters/Carl Recine

John Percy

Paul Lambert is in line for a £1 million (€1.12m) survival bonus if he guides Stoke City to Premier League safety, after making his return to management.

Lambert is back in the technical area following a seven-month exile after accepting the job with the strugglers, in a move which has left many Stoke fans underwhelmed.

The 48-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half year contract and will be assured of a significant bonus if he can maintain their top-flight place, with his first game against Huddersfield on Saturday.

His arrival ends a nine-day search for a successor to Mark Hughes with moves for Gary Rowett, Quique Sanchez Flores and Martin O'Neill ending in frustration.

Rowett was a leading contender but opted to sign a new deal at Derby while Flores, the Espanyol manager, performed a surprise U-turn despite the Stoke board flying to meet him in Barcelona.

Ireland manager O'Neill was also interviewed twice by chairman Peter Coates and his son John, the vice-chairman, plus chief executive Tony Scholes, but neither party was ever truly convinced.

It left Stoke with no alternative but to consider other candidates and Lambert (above) is understood to have impressed so much in his interview that he quickly emerged as the No 1 choice.

During talks he outlined his ambitions for the season and Stoke's strengths and weaknesses, and his appointment was confirmed yesterday morning. He will be assured of January transfer window funds.

Peter Coates said: "Paul greatly impressed us with his knowledge of our squad and had a clear plan of how he would improve our results.

"He's a man who backed himself as a player, none more so than when he turned down contract offers in Scotland to go on trial in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, and it's obvious he adopts the same approach as a manager."

His reputation was arguably at its highest nearly seven years ago, when he achieved back-to-back promotions at Norwich City.

He departed for Villa in 2012 and endured a difficult two-and-a-half years under former chairman Randy Lerner, operating on a restricted budget.

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