Ex-Aston Villa manager unsurprised at decline, makes bold claim about his time in charge

Paul Lambert said he could see Villa's relegation coming for years and says ensuring survival was one of his biggest achievements.

Former Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has had his say on the club's relegation, telling the Mirror that given the fact he could see it coming from a long way off, it was a huge achievement for him to keep them in the Premier League.

Lambert took charge of Villa after they had just scraped to survival in 16th place under Alex McLeish in 2011, and steered them to consecutive 15th-placed finishes in his two full seasons in charge.

He was sacked in February 2015 with the club in 18th position and replaced by Tim Sherwood, who steered them to avoid the drop by the skin of their teeth last season. 

However, Villa have endured an utterly abject campaign this term, winning just three of 34 games and sitting rock bottom for the vast majority of the season, and their relegation was confirmed with four matches to spare with defeat at Manchester United on Saturday.

Lambert, who has been widely criticised by fans both during his final 12 months at Villa Park and in the time since his dismissal, has insisted that he could see more clearly than others that the club was doomed.

He added that, given the fact he was tasked with reducing the club's wage bill as well as keeping them afloat, his success in maintaining their Premier League status for his two full seasons in charge should count amongst his greatest managerial achievements.

The current Blackburn Rovers boss told the Mirror: "It is sad for the club. I probably saw for a few more years than anybody what was going to happen.

"If you look at the money I did spend and the money I did save them, staying in the League for that length of time was one of my biggest achievements because of the resources that were there. The size of the club dictated it should have been doing a lot better than what it was, but keeping them in the league is absolutely one of my best achievements.

"[The Championship] is a hard, hard league - 46 games plus cup games. They will be one of the big teams in the league that everyone wants to beat. They are going to have to have good stamina to play those games and resolve and ugliness – everything that dictates you can get out of the Championship."

Villa are looking for their third permanent manager in the time since Lambert's sacking, with full-time bosses Sherwood and Remi Garde having been dismissed, and are currently being led by first-team coach Eric Black.

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