Villa tie down Lambert deal despite owner Lerner looking to sell
It is fair to say that Aston Villa have somewhat shocked many this term so far, as they find themselves up in second place in the Premier League after four games.
The season is still young, but the club have already decided to reward manager Paul Lambert, by handing him a new four-year contract (until 2018), which he has signed.
Villa are unbeaten in the league this campaign (along with just Chelsea and Arsenal), and have gained three clean sheets, conceding just once – fewer than any other club. They are now decent 9/4 chances to finish in the top 10, which is far more likely than their odds for relegation at 5/1.
Scotsman Lambert, who only managed to keep the Villans in the Premier League last season by five points, spoke of what it meant to him and the club on signing his new deal.
“I’m delighted to have the support of our chairman, Randy Lerner, and Tom Fox, our new chief executive, and I’m determined that we continue building the club to where we all want it to be,” he said. “We can look to the future with real optimism.
“This is a massive football club, a fantastic football club. I knew the first two years would be tough but we’ve made progress and now we’re beginning to see the benefits of all of that hard work.
“We’re in a much healthier position on and off the pitch and, with a continued sensible approach, we believe we’re on the right road to build upon the strong start we’ve made this season in the Premier League.
“The bar had to be raised, everyone has stepped up and there will be continued improvement,” he added. “We can look to the future with real optimism and a determination to make this season successful, and the seasons that follow.
“On a personal note I’d like to express my thanks to the chairman for his continued support and to the fans who have been really supportive towards myself, the staff and, most importantly, the team.”
Former Norwich City boss Lambert’s contract extension follows new deals to two of his players Gabriel Agbonlahor and Alan Hutton, who have signed on for four and three more years respectively.
The club have certainly made a remarkable turnaround since last term and the summer, when owner Randy Lerner put Villa up for sale. But it seems the American has rekindled his determination and continued to take interest in helping to turn the West Midlands side forward, bringing in a whole host of experienced recruits this summer.
The likes of Philippe Senderos, Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson, Aly Cissokho, Carlos Sanchez and Tom Cleverley have all been brought in to bolster the club.
One problem with Lambert’s new deal is that, if Lerner does decide to eventually sell up, the new owner will be stuck with a manager for the next four years, or face the prospect of handing out a big pay off if he isn’t satisfied.
For now, though, Villa can only look at the present and very near future, with their next fixture being at home to title hopefuls Arsenal. They are 4/1 chances to repeat their recent victory over Liverpool, or 13/5 to claim a draw and stay unbeaten.
Villa chief executive Tom Fox, meanwhile, said: “I am delighted that we have extended manager Paul Lambert’s contract to the end of the 2017/18 season.
“Paul and Randy had been in discussions regarding this move when I came on board and we concluded our agreement last week.
“We have a long-term vision for Villa. Paul is completely integrated into our plan to manage the club carefully and ambitiously back to a position in the Premier League appropriate to our history and collective expectations.”