LONDON: Paul Lambert is the new manager of Aston Villa in all but name after quitting Norwich City following the club’s formal refusal to allow him to meet Midland club officials.

A Norwich 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. Once Villa sacked 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 Wednesday to talk to Lambert.

Norwich added: “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.”

Lambert, one-time Scotland and Borussia Dortmund midfielder, s leave the club in a much healthier state then when he walked away from 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 Premier League football club, on a financially sound footing and with a stadium full to capacity.”

Lambert’s backroom staff – assistant Ian Culverhouse, the former Norwich defender, and head of football operations Gary Karsa – are also likely to follow him out of Carrow Road.

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