Norwich City chief executive David McNally’s pledge on Paul Lambert

Norwich City chief executive David McNally has pledged to do 'everything we can' to hold on to Paul Lambert.

The Canaries' boss was last night installed as a short-priced favourite to replace Alex McLeish at Aston Villa with one leading bookmaker after the Scot's sacking in the wake of the Midlanders' weekend 2-0 Premier League defeat at Carrow Road.

Lambert was heavily touted recently as a potential Villa Park replacement for his success in guiding Norwich to consecutive promotions and a 12th-placed top flight finish.

The City manager remained non–committal when questioned over his long-term future following the club's winning weekend finale, but McNally – speaking on Sunday – reiterated the club's firm stance for any potential suitors.

'We would not welcome any enquiry for our football manager or any of the club's football players,' he said. 'We will do everything we can and fight this as hard as we have ever fought. If I was at another football club and I was looking for another manager he'd be top of my list. In any business you need to look at what might happen – the what ifs, but we are focused on keeping our manager and the footballers he wants to retain at the club and to bring in better footballers to complement the club.

'I want other clubs to covet our manager and I want other clubs to want our players, because if they do that means we're doing something right. It is almost obvious, isn't it, that clubs would like to have them at their football club.'

McNally emphasised City's success has been built on retaining their most valuable assets.

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'Our players and our football manager have punched above their weight again this season,' he told BBC Radio Norfolk. 'Let's not forget but in the past three years we have signed 26 or 27 players on permanent deals or long-term loans. We have not sold one player against the club's will in three years – despite the club going through the worst financial crisis in our history. Not one player has left this club that we didn't wish to leave this club so we have not been bad at ensuring we manage our squad carefully. Of course we would like Paul to be here for the long term and we will do everything we can to encourage him to be here for the long term.'

Villa's hierarchy issued a statement yesterday afternoon confirming McLeish's contract had been terminated with immediate effect following talks with chairman Randy Lerner. 'We need to be clear and candid with ourselves and with supporters about what we have lacked in recent years,' said Lerner.

'Compelling play and results that instil a sense of confidence that Villa is on the right track have been plainly absent. The most immediate action that we can take is to look carefully at our options.'