Yesterday Aston Villa all but closed the books on securing safety this season. Today, Norwich drew Chelsea and finished it for us. The claret and blue will definitely spend another season in the Premier League, and that's fantastic news.
But now the focus shifts to the tandem of Paul Lambert and Randy Lerner. With his enigmatic statement a couple of weeks ago Lerner left open the possibility that he would sell the club over the summer. We've seen that rumour float around quite a bit in the past couple of years, but since he refused to deny it–despite the fact that CEO Paul Faulkner had been–Lerner actually fueled the speculation this time.
Combine Lerner's waning interest in the club with the now seemingly annual relegation struggles, and it seems as if this summer would be the perfect time to sell. Get some money out of his investment and no longer worry about a club that he clearly doesn't quite know how to run. And while there are certainly risks, the sale of the club to someone with more football acumen (or at least someone who would surround themselves with people who had more of it) would be a massive boon.
But that leaves the issue of Paul Lambert. He was rumoured to be in talks to extend his contract earlier in the season, but a disastrous run in the final few weeks have certainly put an end to those. Instead, it seems as if there will be one of two options: either Lambert is let go once the season is over or he is allowed to see out the final year of his current contract.
If it's the former, you would have to hope that there was some resolution to the possibility of takeover fairly quickly. If Randy Lerner is indeed keeping the club, he should hire a replacement as soon as he could and allow them a bit of freedom on the transfer market. If he's selling, he should do so quickly so that the club is not left in limbo.
If it's the latter, and Lambert sticks around, you would hope that any potential sale would also happen quickly. If the club gets sold and the new owners are feeling generous, let Lambert have the money early so that he can have an entire summer of transfer productivity. If Lerner sticks around, at least make sure that is clear so that Lambert would know the parameters within which he would be working.
Having the question of whether or not the manager will be sacked already adds a level of instability to the club as the summer approaches. Augment that with the question of a possible takeover, and you've got even more going on. If these issues aren't resolved quickly, Aston Villa could quickly become a shambles. There is absolutely potential for disaster here.
But if we can get resolution on both the issues of the manager and owner–regardless of what those decisions are–the club will have a summer to re-load and prepare themselves to achieve mid-table respectability next year.
I'm not convinced that any of the four scenarios (new owner and Lambert, new owner and new manager, Lerner and Lambert, or Lerner and new manager) are better than any of the others. I am convinced, however, that we must get answers as quickly as possible in order to avoid chaos at a club that can ill afford it.