Norwich face a fight to keep Paul Lambert, with the manager the early favourite to replace sacked Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish.

Villa confirmed today that McLeish's contract had been immediately terminated, after the side finished 16th and were almost dragged into a relegation battle at the end of the season.

"The club have been disappointed with this season's results, performances and the general message these have sent to our fans," a statement on Villa's official website read.

"The board wishes to assure supporters that we are conscious in every sense that Villa expects and deserves more and we will strive to deliver this."

Villa chairman Randy Lerner added: "We need to be clear and candid with ourselves and with supporters about what we have lacked in recent years.

Alex McLeish
Alex McLeish has left Aston Villa with immediate effect.

"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 in terms of bringing in a new manager who sees the club's potential and embraces our collective expectations."

The early favourite to take over the post at Villa Park is Paul Lambert, after the manager put in a stellar season from Premier League surprise-outfit Norwich.

The side were favourites for relegation back into the Championship at the start of the season, but have finished a comfortable twelfth and shown that they have the potential to be a stable top-flight side.

But Villa face a fight from the Canaries if they hope to snare Lambert, with chief executive David McNally telling BBC Radio Norfolk: "We would not welcome any enquiry for our football manager or any of the club's football players.

"We'll do everything we can and fight this as hard as we've ever fought."