NORWICH, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Paul Lambert manager of Norwich City celebrates his teams win during the npower Championship match between Norwich City and Derby County at Carrow Road on April 25, 2011 in Norwich, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Shortly after the news broke that Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers is to be named the manager at Liverpool, Dave Whelan announced that his unhealthy, co-dependant, and likely guilt-ridden relationship with Roberto Martinez will continue for another season. Shortly after Whelan's statement, Sky Sports reported that Villa will be making an official approach for Paul Lambert's services.
Talk about your falling dominoes, eh? While it's unlikely that everything unfolded in reality the same way it has through media reports, this big flurry of activity isn't exactly surprising. With three names being connected to many of the same jobs and a bit of a clear pecking order in terms of the desirability of the appointment, it was likely that Liverpool would have to move before anything else was decided. It's now vitally important that Villa get things squared away as soon as possible; while I have no doubt that Lambert is their first choice, I'm also fully willing to believe that reports of at least one other name being on their list. But what happens if Lambert turns out not to be interested and the other name(s) on Villa's list aren't available any longer? It's not exactly a situation without recent precedent.
For whatever reason, I've decided to have faith that the club learned some very valuable lessons the last time around and that there will be an acceptable outcome quite soon. I'll admit to some skepticism that Lambert was an especially likely or realistic target and though some of that remains, Villa's interest seems legit and I think he'd be an excellent appointment. The question is whether or not he's interested, and that's where I have some doubts. If he isn't, it's not the end of the world provided the board has prepared for that particular scenario. I'll trust that they have, but I'm still not going to stop feeling just a little bit nervous until there's some kind of official announcement.
This is something Villa can't afford to get wrong. The standard reasoning goes that, no matter what happens, nothing can be worse than Alex McLeish. There's a very good chance that's true, but "better than McLeish" is not an incredibly high bar to clear. Get it right and Villa could be back challenging for Europe in a year or two. Get it wrong and Villa could go from being "big club that's had a few bad seasons" to "the new Blackburn" with terrifying speed.