PAUL Lambert was sacked by Aston Villa last night after a series of bad results left the Birmingham club in the bottom three of the Barclays Premier League.
The 45-year-old former Celtic and Scotland captain replaced Alex McLeish in June 2012 but has struggled at the helm this season, including a dismal run of 659 minutes without a Premier League goal which ended in a defeat to Chelsea earlier this month.
A statement on the club’s official website said: “Aston Villa Football Club has parted company this evening with manager Paul Lambert.
“First-team coach Scott Marshall and goalkeeping coach Andy Marshall will continue to prepare the squad for Sunday’s FA Cup tie with Leicester City at Villa Park.
“The club would also like to place on record its thanks to Paul and take this opportunity to wish him every success in thefuture. The club will announce a new manager in due course. There will be no further
comment from the club at this stage.”
Lambert signed a new contract extension in September last year, shortly after a 1-0 win over Liverpool took Villa to second place in the table.
However, their season soon collapsed, and the long barren spell without a goal placed a question mark over the Scot’s future. Nevertheless Villa chiefs showed every sign of resisting the growing unrest among Villa fans and keeping faith in Lambert despite their plunge into the relegation zone.
He remained defiant after Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat at Hull, during which some Villa fans unfurled banners calling for his removal.
He insisted: “You can’t feel sorry for yourself – you’ve got to pick yourself up and go again.”
But the miserable defeat to the Tigers clearly convinced Lambert’s previously loyal backers that it was time to look elsewhere in a bid to keep them in the top flight.
The announcement of his departure comes just hours after the Birmingham Mail newspaper kicked off a campaign calling for Lambert’s exit.
Under a banner headline reading ‘Birmingham Mail says: Lambert Must Go!’, the newspaper said: “Paul Lambert is not the man to save this club from relegation and the long-term damage that disaster will bring.”
It added: “No progress has been made under Lambert. In fact, this once mighty club is now staring relegation in the face.” Former Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood, current Real Madrid assistant Paul Clement and United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann have already been mentioned as possible front-runners for the vacancy.
Former Villa captain Peter Withe described Lambert’s departure as “inevitable” after their latest defeat - and even offered to assist the club for free in a bid to retain their Premier status.
Withe, who scored Villa’s winner in the 1982 European Cup final against Bayern Munich, subsequently enjoyed a varied career in management including spells with Wimbledon, Thailand and Indonesia.
Discussing Lambert’s departure, Withe told the BBC: “I think it was inevitable quite frankly with the way the results were going and also not scoring goals.
“I’m sure they haven’t done this on a whim and I’m sure they have got people in mind. I think the most important thing is they get someone in who is right until the end of the season.
“I’ve said I will help them for nothing. I think they’ve got to get someone who has a feel for the club and can bring the fans back and also just inspire the players a little bit. I think someone who’s got that feel for the football club can do that.”