This season has been another disappointing one for Villa fans. It has been a season which has seen us get good results against the top teams then some poor ones against the teams around us in the table, with Stoke, Crystal Palace and Fulham all doing the double over us this season. The home form hasn’t seen any real improvement, with the victory against Hull being only our sixth home victory. Fans at Villa Park also witnessed a club record ten home defeats in the Premier League.
Our away form earned Lambert and his players many plaudits last season, with Villa picking up twenty-one points on the road last season, which is four points better than this season’s current tally of seventeen. The Villans started the season well away from home, putting in positive performances against Arsenal, Chelsea and Norwich, but since then our away form has stuttered and we haven’t won away from home since New Year’s Day when we beat Sunderland 1-0 at the Stadium of Light. Despite a positive performance against Liverpool at Anfield, our away form has been poor since the turn of the year.
Villa chairman Randy Lerner is expected to try to sell the club this summer. Lerner is rarely seen in Birmingham but according to Lambert in February he has been to Villa Park in disguise to watch his team play.
Since Martin O’Neill left in 2010, Randy Lerner has cut costs at Aston Villa and has not invested as much in the transfer market as he did in the past. He recently offered a rare statement, in which he refused to rule out a potential sale of the club in the summer, stating that he will address these rumours at the end of the season. According to ‘The Birmingham Mail’, it is understood that negotiations with a potential buyer have already taken place and the sale hinged on Premier League survival. With the Villans now mathematically safe, the rumoured sale of the club may go ahead. In any case, Aston Villa Football Club will earn at least £40 million in television revenue for staying in the Premier League.
Back in 2006, Randy Lerner purchased Aston Villa Football Club for £63 million and has since invested around £250 million in players and facilities such as Bodymoor Heath and the Holte Pub. He hasn’t given Paul Lambert similar funding to previous managers and the team has suffered because of this.
On 13th May 2012 at Carrow Road, the away fans sang Paul Lambert’s name, calling for him to be the next Aston Villa manager. Two years on, it seems that most Villa fans have now changed their minds and want him and the chairman out.
Lambert talks about a three year plan but we have seen no real progress. Towards the end of last season we showed real promise and looked as if we could build on the results and performances. However, this season has really been a step backwards in terms of the way we have played: last season we played some nice football but there has been too much ‘hoofing’ the ball up to our strikers, who have not had enough service, during the current campaign.
Lambert has broken a few unwanted records while in charge of Aston Villa, one of them being Villa losing ten times at home for the first ever time in the history of the club, and has also overseen disappointing results in cup competitions, getting knocked out in the semi-final of the Capital One Cup by Bradford and being beaten in the FA Cup by Milwall early in 2013 and this season losing to Sheffield United.
Paul Lambert recently said that he wants to bring in more experienced players, with Javier Hernández, Lewis Holtby, and Joleon Lescott all being linked. If Lambert is still in charge this summer, would you trust him with a larger transfer budget? Some of Lambert’s signings were real bargains while others haven’t really worked out.
The players must also take some of the blame for their part in what has been an extremely poor season. Whoever is in charge next season will need to evaluate the squad and get rid of certain players. With players like Sylla, Helenius, Tonev and Bowery getting limited match action, it might be time for them to move on.
We could replace these players with players from our academy. Aston Villa won the Next-Gen Series last season, with players like Grealish, Robinson, and Carruthers all participating. Grealish has just been named Notts County’s ‘Player of the Month’ and his impact while he has been on loan helped the club to beat the drop.
Since Benteke and Kozak suffered serious injuries, summer signing Nicklas Helenius may have hoped he’d see more of the action but he has had to sit on the bench and will only be remembered for getting his shorts pulled down by Jan Vertonghan if he does leave this summer. Despite scoring in the game against Sheffield United, Helenius hasn’t featured since, which has disappointed some Villa fans.
Now that we are approaching the end of the season, we will see the return of Darren Bent and could see the departure of our once highly rated midfielder Gary Gardner.
As much as I would have liked Paul Lambert to have been successful at Aston Villa, he hasn’t really lived up to fans’ hopes. Last month he seemingly told unhappy fans to take a reality check and insisted that Aston Villa Football Club has made “major progress”. Fans were not hoping for a Champions’ League push this season but for a comfortable mid-table position. This would have been seen as progress but instead we had to toil once again to preserve our Premier League status.
Hopefully, next season will be an improvement on this one. With the right investment, we could show Paul Lambert what “major progress” looks like.