Relegation-threatened Aston Villa fires manager Paul Lambert
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Aston Villa fired manager Paul Lambert on Wednesday, a day after the club dropped into the relegation zone to leave its unbroken stay in the English Premier League in jeopardy.
Fans had started to turn on Lambert, with the team easily the lowest scorers in all four of the English leagues with just 12 goals in 25 games and on a run of five straight league defeats.
Lambert, a Champions League winner as a player with Borussia Dortmund in 1997, took over at Villa in June 2012 as one of the most highly sought-after young coaches in Britain, having impressed when in charge of Norwich.
Villa, which is owned by American businessman Randy Lerner, announced Lambert’s departure in a brief statement, adding that first-team coach Scott Marshall and goalkeeping coach Andy Marshall will prepare the squad for Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round match against Leicester.
Lambert signed a contract extension in September, shortly after a 1-0 win over Liverpool took them to second place in the table.
But Villa’s campaign has imploded and the team went 659 minutes without a league goal before scoring in a defeat to Chelsea this month.
The 2-0 loss to Hull on Tuesday took Villa’s winless run in the league to 10 games. During the match, Villa fans unfurled banners calling for Lambert’s removal.
Only last month, Villa chief executive Tom Fox said Lambert’s position was safe and that the club was heading in the right direction.
“When things aren’t going well, fans bay for that type of blood,” Fox said. “That’s not the way that I or the owner are going to make a decision. It’s a false narrative.”
Villa said it will announce a new manager “in due course.”
Lerner, the former owner of the Cleveland Browns, put Villa up for sale in May 2014 after eight years in control, saying he was drained by the “week-in, week-out battles.”