Saturday 8th November could have gone down as a detrimental moment in Aston Villa’s season. It was a game that many saw as pivotal and a ‘banker’, although the latter was never the case.
The hosts dominated for large periods, having the better of the chances and over twenty shots, which is quite impressive given the Hammers’ struggles last season. It was also an example of how things can change in the world of football. In May, West Ham fans called for Allardyce to resign. A summer of change has set West Ham up for what will surely be a different season to the 2013-14 one. Although the current campaign did not start well, the Irons are currently on a roll and ticking along efficiently. Changes in tactics and personnel have proven fruitful for ‘Big Sam’.
Sticking by a manager is reaping rewards in Newcastle, where, at the start of October, most Magpies wanted Alan Pardew out. Since then, things have been on the up as Pardew brought Cisse, Obertan and Albeid in from the cold after dropping three powerful players who, truthfully, were out of form.
Given the improving fortunes of his counterparts at Newcastle United and West Ham United, perhaps Paul Lambert can change his luck – and his team’s. Randy Lerner has stated from the start that there is a new, long term vision at Villa. He admitted change happened too quickly. That has obviously affected the side. Paul Lambert has had stringent budgets and a handful of other contentious issues to deal with. Lambert’s new contract was perhaps deserved after a good start to the season, although the length of it was questionable even then. Currently, it is not justified. Looking at Lambert, it is clear that his job is not under any threat, as ‘The Sunday People’ suggested yesterday. Mr Lambert is here for the long haul and how exactly his time at Villa will end remains to be seen. At present, he has the worst record of any manager in recent years. However, he has had a real tough job to do. In terms of securing the Villa fans’ support once more, the key factor may be whether or not Lambert can shake the side up with new formations and ideas or by introducing different players to the team. Gardner should be recalled in January. Grealish should be playing over Agbonlahor, who seems impotent for eighty minutes of the game. Okore should be playing rather than Clark. Change is needed now. Will we see it?
Stuart Young’s article on Friday summed up a lot of what I want to say. Lambert’s statistics are not fictional. It is a fact that he led Aston Villa Football Club to the most defeats over a whole season in our Premier League history and that the Villans conceded the most goals in a season in our Premier League history under Lambert. Some believe a change in management would worsen the Villans’ situation but that is not necessarily true. For example, Gary Monk totally changed the Swans’ fortunes when he took over last season. Tony Pulis’ arrival completely changed Crystal Palace’s season. Fans pay a lot of money to follow Aston Villa. They do not have overly high expectations; they just want value for money. If they are not being entertained, why should they support the management? Why are some fans blaming injuries? Lambert was aware of the situation regarding Benteke and Kozak yet he did nothing about it. Delph is out injured. I could argue that Lambert has done nothing about this.
Lambert is too cosy in his plush seat at the moment. This needs to change. More pressure is needed. If Lambert does not realise that he needs to delve deeper into the squad, he is even more inept than many first believed.
I want to eat humble pie. I wish Paul Lambert every success, even though, at the moment, I have no faith in him. If he changes his terrible tactics and stale team selections, he will get more support. If he chooses not to, he is in for a longer winter than anticipated.