Norwich City manager Paul Lambert the man for Aston Villa - Stan Collymore

Respected media pundit Stan Collymore has pinpointed Paul Lambert as the right man to turn around the ailing fortunes of his old club Aston Villa.

The former Liverpool and England striker believes Norwich City's coveted boss could revive the club he supports and spent three seasons with as a player in the late 1990s.

Lambert and Wigan counterpart Roberto Martinez continue to be heavily touted as potential replacements for the departed Alex McLeish and his assistant Peter Grant, with Villa's hierarchy reportedly drawing up an initial four-man shortlist. Lambert would get Collymore's vote.

'My personal choice, and I have really enjoyed Norwich City this season and I am on good terms with their fans on Twitter so I don't want to offend them, but Paul Lambert is the most Martin-O'Neill like manager around for me,' he said. 'He has a proven track record of recruiting good players from lower leagues and getting the best out of them. He is organised and has a Plan A and a Plan B in games, whether it is getting the ball down and passing it or playing it into two front men so he would be my personal choice.

'For whoever comes in, it is going to be a very, very big job. My understanding now is that there are two current Premier League managers plus two out of work who would fall under Villa's radar. I'm sure the chairman and the chief executive want to get this decision right - not only to work with what they have got but it also remains to be seen what budget they will have.'


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Collymore warns McLeish's successor that they face a major rebuilding job.

'You are losing the likes of Emile Heskey and Carlos Cuellar, which leaves a depleted squad,' he told Talksport. 'I see Darren Bent is now saying he will be fit for England after the end of the season, which I find quite interesting. I for one as a Villa fan would sell Darren Bent and plough that money back into the squad, because it doesn't matter who comes in the expectation at Aston Villa is still very high, but the squad as it stands is a bottom five or six squad. End of story.

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'Whoever comes in has to have the powers of motivation, the powers of getting bums back on seats, they have to play attractive attacking football and have a track record of getting the best out of the players he has got there, with one or two additions from the lower leagues and an extensive scouting network.'

Collymore believes McLeish was always going to struggle with the resources at his disposal.

'They had the seasons under Martin O'Neill when they were competing for the Champions League, but the chairman and chief executive came out and said the wages to turnover was too high and had to come down so Villa fans knew what to expect,' he said. 'As a consequence players had to go. People like Gareth Barry and James Milner, Ashley Young and Stewart Downing left, but when you appoint a manager who comes with negative perceptions, when you have a slashed wage bill, when you have to put a lot of youngsters into the first team squad, then I always thought they would be down towards the lower reaches of the table.

'I didn't think it would go quite as close to the wire. The team Villa could currently put out I think even Sir Alex Ferguson would have struggled to get a tune out of them.'

Latics' boss Martinez tops most betting markets for the Villa Park vacancy after reportedly turning down Randy Lerner last summer. The Spaniard, however, adopted the same stance as Lambert when questioned at this week's League Managers' end-of-season dinner.

'There's not a decision to be made,' he said. 'I'm under contract and at the moment there's nothing else other than preparing for next season and making sure we grow season after season. There's nothing to discuss. When there is speculation about players and managers it is because you've done something well. We've done something well and there's speculation, but it's nothing more than that.'

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