Aston Villa continue search for new manager


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The Independent Football

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner is continuing his search for Alex McLeish's successor with Norwich manager Paul Lambert the new favourite with bookmakers.

Lambert was reluctant to talk about his future last night and would only say "I'm delighted at Norwich, I've never said I wanted away."

But he is 100-30 to succeed McLeish after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer withdrew from the race yesterday because of personal reasons and family commitments.

Villa are adamant they were carrying out due diligence on other potential candidates even after interviewing Molde manager Solskjaer over the weekend.

A Villa source said: "The club is getting on with the process of finding a new manager and this process has been very focused from the outset.

"The timeframe is not as important as getting the best man to be the manager.

"The club feels well positioned right now with a number of candidates under consideration."

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, who rejected the chance to take charge of Villa last summer, is second favourite at 4-1 with former Villa player and current Huddersfield boss Simon Grayson 6-1.

Meanwhile, striker Emile Heskey and central defender Carlos Cuellar have, as expected, parted company with Villa at the end of their contracts.

Both players had made it clear they would be leaving after three-and-a-half and five years respectively at Villa Park.

Number two keeper Brad Guzan has also departed despite holding contract talks because of his desire for regular first-team football.

Heskey, who joined Villa from Wigan during January 2009, has made it clear he wants to continue playing and has been linked with his first club, Leicester.

He has been dogged by an Achilles problem this season but returned to the side during the latter part of the campaign.

Cuellar moved from Rangers in a £7.8 million deal in 2007 and became a versatile performer in operating at right-back, left-back and centre-back.

American international Guzan had to be content with being understudy to Brad Friedel and then Shay Given during his four years at Villa.

But he impressed the then manager McLeish when an injury to Given led to a six-week spell of first- team action last season.