Paul Lambert free to rebuild Aston 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 that direct question.

"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.

"I'd like to think I would not get stick when we play there. But you think in the back of your mind it probably will come. And that's maybe the sad thing but I can't help that."

Lambert will hope to instil 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. That should never deflect from winning games. The principles are still of the same regardless of what they earn."

Lambert hopes to bring in four or five players as owner Randy Lerner makes money available after the despair of last season under Alex McLeish when they were threatened with relegation at one stage. "I need to see what the situation is with everybody," he added as his new club announced they 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."

Canaries in talks with Hughton

In their search for a successor to Paul Lambert, Norwich City were yesterday given permission to talk to the Birmingham City manager, Chris Hughton, about the vacancy with the Canaries.

Birmingham's acting chairman, Peter Pannu, said: "Chris is a great manager and deserves the opportunity to speak to Norwich which is why we have granted him permission to speak to them."

Birmingham were relegated to the Championship in 2011 and missed out on an immediate return, under Hughton, last month when they lost a play-off semi-final to Blackpool. Hughton has also managed Newcastle.

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