Lambert 'never thought' he would return to Premier League

He last held a Premier League job three years ago – now the new Potters boss admitted he had doubts over whether he would be back

After taking the reins at Stoke City, Paul Lambert conceded he was unsure whether he would ever secure a return to Premier League management.

Lambert was appointed on a two-and-a-half-year deal on Monday as the Potters confirmed their replacement for Mark Hughes, who paid the price for a run of eight defeats in 11 games, including a loss to League Two Coventry City in the FA Cup third round. 

A Champions League winner as a player with Borussia Dortmund, Lambert has not held a Premier League role since parting company with Aston Villa in February 2015.

He has since managed in the Championship with Blackburn Rovers and Wolves, and was thrilled at the opportunity to return to the top tier with Stoke, who sit third from bottom after 23 games.

“I never thought I would get the chance to get back to this level unless I took a team up,” said Lambert, whose first game in charge will see Huddersfield Town visit the bet365 Stadium this weekend after he watched from the stands as Stoke went down 3-0 at Manchester United on Monday.

“I’m honoured and privileged to be here and can’t wait to get started. I just got a call really late at the weekend. I was asked if I’d meet the owners. I had no hesitation coming down.

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“Everybody knows it’s a really stable club – only two managers in 12 years.”

Stoke were reportedly interested in Derby County’s Gary Rowett, Espanyol boss Quique Sanchez Flores and Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, but Lambert says he gives no thought to the possibility he may not have been the club’s top candidate for the job.

“Whether names like that were mentioned, I never second guessed it. Never thought whether I was first choice,” he said.