PAUL Lambert offered his resignation as Norwich manager yesterday, only for the club to reveal in a statement that they have not accepted it.
Norwich confirmed Lambert, who has been strongly linked with the vacant manager’s post at Aston Villa, wanted to leave. A statement read: “The club regrets to confirm that Paul Lambert has offered his resignation from his position as Norwich City manager. We have fought hard to keep Paul at Norwich and have not accepted his resignation whilst discussions with another club are taking place. However, whatever happens, we want to place on record our sincere gratitude for everything Paul has done for the club over the last three fantastic seasons.”
Lambert, 42, took the Canaries up from npower League One after being brought in from Colchester in August 2009, and then immediately on into the Barclays Premier League, where they finished a creditable 12th place. However, once Villa dispensed with the services of Alex McLeish after a disappointing campaign, the former Celtic and Borussia Dortmund midfielder was high on their wanted list.
It is understood Villa made an official approach to Norwich on Wedenesday to talk to Lambert. There had been reports of a fall-out of the denial of that opportunity. However, in a carefully worded statement, Norwich appeared to play those rumours down.
“Discussions with Paul throughout the last few days have been professional and amicable,” the statement continued. “Paul has already earned his place in Norwich City Football Club history and, no matter what happens, will always have a friendly welcome at Carrow Road.”
Should he join Villa, Lambert would leave the club in a much healthier state than when he left Colchester to take over at Carrow Road three seasons ago.
The Norwich statement added: “When Paul joined us in August 2009 we were in 66th position in the English football pyramid and the club was on the brink of financial meltdown. Today we are a Barclays Premier League football club, on a financially sound footing and with a stadium full to capacity.”
When Lambert departs, it is likely his backroom staff – assistant Ian Culverhouse, the former Norwich defender, and head of football operations Gary Karsa – would follow him out of Carrow Road. Lambert’s playing squad was built on a strong work ethic, with many having come up through successive promotions, or been given a chance to impress in the top flight, like winger Anthony Pilkington.
Norwich, though, insist there is not about to be a firesale at Carrow Road. “The club does not need to sell any players and the finances are in place to substantially strengthen the excellent squad which helped us finish in 12th position in the Premier League last season,” the statement continued. “Rest assured that everyone behind the scenes at Carrow Road remains focused on continuing to help the club progress.”
Norwich will now begin the search for Lambert’s successor, with Cardiff manager Malky Mackay expected to be in the frame alongside another former Canaries player, Steve Bruce.