Paul Lambert to be given cash to improve Aston Villa but Norwich City refuse to budge
RANDY Lerner is ready to pay the £1 million compensation required to recruit Norwich City manager Paul Lambert and will promise him transfer funds to revive Aston Villa.
Lerner, the Villa chairman, is expected to agree a three-year deal with Lambert today despite Norwich rejecting the Scot’s resignation yesterday. Lambert has told Norwich he wants to quit Carrow Road after three years and his board are resigned to losing him, with former defender Malky Mackay, currently at Cardiff City, the leading candidate to replace him.
Villa are prepared to pay the ’transfer fee’ to land the 42 year-old and are keen to resolve their hunt for a manager in the next 24 hours, nearly three weeks after the dismissal of Alex McLeish. Lambert is expected to be unveiled officially next week and will take full control.
Crucially, he will also be assured of money for the transfer window this summer in what will represent a shift in stance from Lerner.
McLeish was under instructions to lower a mammoth wage bill and was expecting a sell-to-buy policy if he had survived the axe. But Lambert has been promised money to spend on players and permission to spend big on wages, with Lerner said to be keen on reviving Villa after two dismal years of underachievement.
He will still be asked to balance the books by offloading players, with James Collins, Stephen Warnock and Richard Dunne potential departures, but will be given licence to recruit two or three high-profile signings. Norwich operated a strict £15,000 wage ceiling, a source of frustration that led to friction with David McNally, the chief executive. At Villa, however, wages will not be so much of an issue.
Last night Norwich were seemingly preparing for the inevitable, paying tribute to Lambert for his achievements following his arrival from Colchester in 2009. A statement read: “We have fought hard to keep Paul Lambert at Norwich City and have not accepted his resignation whilst discussions with another club are taking place. Whatever happens, we want to place on record our sincere gratitude for everything Paul has done for the club over three fantastic seasons.”
It is the second time in 12 months that Villa will be poaching a manager from another club, after their doomed move for McLeish from bitter Second City rivals Birmingham last year.
Lerner will have paid out nearly £15?million in hiring managers and paying them off since the departure of Martin O’Neill two summers ago but is now already revitalised by the feel-good factor of Lambert’s incoming arrival.
Shay Given, the Republic of Ireland international, insists the appointment is a no-brainer, after Lambert established such an excellent reputation in East Anglia.
He said: “If Paul was to come in, it would be a great appointment because he’s a fantastic manager. At every club he’s been at he has been going up all the time so hopefully, if they can get that done, it would be great news for the club.
“The sooner the manager is in place for next season the better because there will be targets and players he wants to get in himself. The sooner that’s done the better.”
Lambert was in talks with Lerner and Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner last night and stayed over in Birmingham to put the finishing touches to the deal later today. But his coronation will be delayed until Wednesday because of the Queen’s Jubilee.