Lerner wants Villa to 'rise to the occasion'

Randy Lerner has urged Aston Villa players to "rise to the occasion" for the rest of the season following manager Paul Lambert's exit.

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner has challenged the club's players to beat relegation from the Premier League in the aftermath of former manager Paul Lambert's departure.

Lambert left Villa Park on Wednesday with the club in the bottom three for the first time this season following defeat at fellow strugglers Hull City 24 hours previously.

A chronic lack of goals – a paltry 12 in 25 league games – has dragged Villa into another survival scrap, with Lerner urging the squad to improve or risk slipping into the Championship.

Lerner has thanked Lambert – who was in charge for two-and-a-half years – and admitted that the Scot worked in a testing environment both on and off the pitch at Villa.

"Following several brutally challenging years at Villa, Paul Lambert arrived with a fresh view and a proven style and track record," read a statement from Lerner on the club's official website.

"It was our hope, and belief, that Aston Villa would find its footing and strengthen during Paul's tenure with the club.

"Adding players and investing in the squad over the last three years has strengthened Villa, and it is our hope that given the quality, leadership and team spirit at Bodymoor Heath that we can rise to the occasion for the remainder of the season.

"I want very much to thank Paul for his commitment to me personally, and to Villa, and wish him well personally and professionally in his future endeavors."

Lambert issued a statement himself earlier on Thursday praising Lerner, adding: "You never stop learning in football management and I certainly believe the invaluable experience from my time as Villa manager will prove hugely beneficial in the next stage of my managerial career."