New Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has spoken of his respect for Gordon Cowans after deciding to retain the European Cup winner as a member of his backroom staff.
Lambert is determined to stamp his own mark on the club and Kevin MacDonald has decided to leave his first team coach/reserve team manager post after 17 years at Villa.
However, Cowans is being kept on in an unspecified capacity by Lambert, and Villa’s recently appointed boss is fully aware of the esteem in which ‘Sid’ is held at the club.
For the past two seasons, Cowans has been coaching the first team and it is as yet unknown whether he will continue in the senior set-up or return to a role with the academy.
Either way Lambert is keen to have a claret and blue man of Cowans’ reputation on board and the new boss is full of admiration for a fellow European Cup winning midfielder, having achieved with Borussia Dortmund in 1997 what his new colleague managed 15 years earlier at Villa.
“Gordon Cowans, as everyone knows, is a legend here at this football club for what he has done,” said Lambert. “That should never be taken away from those lads who have won the European Cup.
“That was an incredible football team and they have done incredible things for the club. Someone like Gordon Cowans deserves instant respect for what he has done.
“I have spoken to Gordon only very briefly and will have another chat with him later on and he’s a really nice guy.”
MacDonald, meanwhile, has decided on a new challenge after almost two decades. The 51-year-old Scot is now taking a brief holiday while he considers whether to embark on his own managerial career.
He made a pitch for the boss’s job after briefly succeeding Martin O’Neill in a caretaker capacity two years ago, only to miss out to Gerard Houllier and again to Lambert after expressing interest in this summer’s vacancy.
“I’ve had an incredible 17 years at Aston Villa, one of the biggest clubs in the country, and wish to thank all the staff and players I have worked with during my time at the club,” said MacDonald. “I wish Aston Villa every success in the future.”
MacDonald’s departure, albeit mutual, shows Lambert is wasting no time stamping his mark on Villa, as does the former Norwich manager’s early plans to move the dugouts at Villa Park.
Lambert reckons relocating the home bench nearer to the Holte End will help the claret and blues harness the support of their hardcore fans and the club’s current longest serving player, striker Gabby Agbonlahor, concurs completely.
“It does sound like a little thing, but it’s the little things that you can build into something bigger,” said Agbonlahor, himself a boyhood Villa fan.
“The supporters in the Holte are the ones who create the noise and everyone else in the stadium takes their lead from them.
“This can make the connection between the fans and the team closer.
“With the new manager in place and with what he is saying, hopefully there are exciting times ahead but we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves.”