Norwich chief executive David McNally has expressed surprise that Paul Lambert has joined Aston Villa rather than a 'big club'.
Lambert walked out on the Canaries last week in order to take the vacant manager's position at Villa Park.
Although Villa have an illustrious history, the club finished four places and nine points behind Norwich in the Premier League last season.
And McNally admits that he did not expect to lose his manager to a club currently outside Europe's elite.
"We believe that it was inevitable at some point that Paul would leave us - we thought for a very big team, one of the big clubs in the game," McNally told The Pink 'Un.
"And I am not being disrespectful to Aston Villa, because clearly they are previous European Cup winners and have won league titles.
"But we thought he would go to a team that was perhaps competing in the Champions League even. It was inevitable because he is very good, he is a very good football manager.
"He has done brilliantly for Norwich City. I would say of course that Norwich City have done brilliantly for him too - and I am sure that he recognises that.
"But he has been a great, great servant for that three years to this football club, and look where we are now.
"So, yes, it was inevitable but, yes we are a bit surprised he hasn't gone to a team that is competing in the Champions League."
Ultimately, however, McNally does not want the manner of Lambert's exit to overshadow an amazing three seasons the club have enjoyed.
"Paul Lambert has been magnificent for this football club and we will be forever grateful," he added. "Three fantastic years and he will always be welcome at Carrow Road.
"He is truly a Carrow Road legend and quite rightly is in the Hall of Fame. We are very grateful to Paul for his achievements over the years and we wish him well."