Lambert free to rebuild Villa by raiding Norwich


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The Independent Online

Paul Lambert's decision to move to Aston Villa from Norwich City could spell double trouble for the Canaries as it was confirmed no compensation will be paid and there are no agreements in place to prevent him from raiding his former club for players.

The bad feeling from Norwich towards their successful former manager is evident, although Lambert himself could not speak highly enough about the Carrow Road set-up. Grant Holt, who Lambert made Canaries captain, could well join the Scot at Villa Park to upset Norwich even further, although Lambert refused to confirm if he was interested when asked.

"No, no, I never said that," he insisted. "I just meant Grant Holt was absolutely brilliant for me. In the three years I've been there he was a huge part of what happened. He's a terrific guy and I have a lot of time for him. Brilliant for me as a footballer and brilliant as a captain. But things move on. I need to know what's happening at Aston Villa before I do anything.

"There's no agreement between me and Norwich about signing players. I have nothing but praise for the football club, fans and players. I don't think people realise how close we were. No doubt fans will say I'm the worst manager in the club's history. But that's because they are hurt. I had my reasons to leave and that's all I'll say."

Lambert will hope to instil at Villa the same team spirit that helped him take Norwich from League One to the Premier League, and he is relishing the chance to work with a big budget after previous spells at Livingston, Wycombe and Colchester.

"It's an incredible opportunity," he said. "You look at the history. The size of the football club is vast. It's something I'm not going to shy away from. It's the first time I've got money. But whether you're making little money or lots of money, I still expect the desire to win games. The principles are still of the same regardless of what the players earn."

Lambert hopes to bring in four or five players as owner Randy Lerner makes money available after the despair of last season. "I need to see what the situation is with everybody," Lambert added as his new club announced they had sold 2,000 season tickets on Saturday when his appointment became known. "Once I get my feet under the table and see what's been going on, dig a little bit deeper. I'm really looking forward to it."