“This is Lambert’s ultimate test”
Paul Lambert has proven himself to be a successful manager in his short career to date, establishing Norwich in the Premier League after back-to-back promotions, but can he turn things around at Aston Villa? That’s the question facing the Life’s a Pitch team as they discuss Villa’s shaky start to the season – one point from three games – and their prospects over the course of what looks likely to be a challenging campaign.
“This is Lambert’s ultimate test,” says the Mail on Sunday’s Ian Ridley. “I’m just wondering whether he’s taken control of the club at the wrong time because it’s a club in decline, there’s no doubt about that. They’re looking below strength and they’ve still got injuries. I just think it’s going to be a tough one.”
The Daily Mirror’s Martin Lipton also foresees a struggle for Villa in the coming months. “They’ve been beaten twice and they got a point at Newcastle, but they haven’t performed yet. We saw them at the end of last season and if there’d been another three games, they would have been relegated. They were awful, absolutely terrible. And they’re not any stronger [now] than they were last season, they’ve just got a different manager who’s having to work with pretty limited resources. And that’s tough, because the cash taps that were running for Martin O’Neill have long been switched off.”
There is some hope for the Villans, though, says the Sunday Mirror’s David Walker. “I think it’s going to be a long tough winter for Villa, but I think they’re going to stay up. They’ve got some decent kids coming through and I think they’ll have just enough to survive. I think Paul Lambert’s got enough about him in a tough situation to see this one through.”
Ian agrees: “I do think over the next few months [owner Randy Lerner] will see that Paul Lambert is a proper, proper manager. He’ll see that Lambert’s got the wage bill down, he’s got a proper training regime, he’s bringing on young players that he’s bought. And I think he’ll say: ‘We can’t afford to go down, there’s huge money on offer next season when the televison deal goes up.’ They need to stay up and I think he’ll back him in [the transfer market in] January.”
Watch the full video discussion by clicking on the play button in the image above.
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