Aston Villa - AVFC Is NOT A Step Sideways For Paul Lambert
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AVFC Is NOT A Step Sideways For Paul Lambert

Vital newbie Gerard Brand:

Why Aston Villa is not a step sideways for Paul Lambert and why time is imperative.

After our fine club gained its seventh manager in just over a decade, the staple musings of a stolen manager were there for all to see. Condemnation of lack of loyalty from Norwich fans and neutrals were apparent and expected, while personal favourite "he`s too good for a team like Villa" made me chuckle for a split second.

Put yourself in Paul Lambert`s shoes. A young, promising manager who has performed what can only be described as miracles at Carrow Road - a statement nobody could disagree with. The most important two words in that statement, however, are young and promising. This suggests that he is as yet unsuccessful to an extent that would allow him to be tagged a 'proven` Premier League manager.

Another season at Norwich would not have helped that, and in my opinion, could only have made things worse. Expectation may not be over the hills and far away at the Canaries, but it would have been tough to ask Lambert to extend their fortunes in a way that showed improvement, other than cementing a place in the Premier League, a big ask at the best of times. With top scorer Grant Holt wanting out, and a lunch box treasure chest budget previously criticised by Lambert himself, a move to Aston Villa makes perfect sense.

Those who claim Villa are a team on a mudslide, a team that Paul Lambert should be avoiding - 'the poisoned chalice` has been heard a few times - are forgetting something. A 'poisoned chalice` in footballing terms suggests that a manager enters a team as a good manager but leaves as a bad one. Let`s take our last six managers as an example:

John Gregory - came from Wycombe, left as a Championship standard manager.

Graham Taylor - a bad appointment, and a manager clutching at straws at the tail end of his career. Left the same as he came - not good enough.

David O`Leary - both succeeded and failed in his three years, has been out of management since (seven games at Al-Ahli aside), but is still linked to jobs in the Championship on a regular occasion.

Martin O`Neill - four successful years, left with arguably more credibility than when he entered, with more modern day PL experience under his belt.

Gerard Houllier - another bad appointment, but could see a direction before poor health took it`s toll. Reputation (there wasn`t much in the first place) definitely not hampered.

Alex McLeish - a catastrophic appointment, and his reputation as relegation-obsessed, negative minded manager was very much upheld. Left with the same qualities he entered with, which was none.

These examples dispel the laughable myth that Aston Villa are a club that destroys managers, while little is said about the poisoned lake at Stamford Bridge and Anfield. I expect nothing but an enhancement for Paul Lambert`s career at Villa Park, and for months I have convinced myself he will be a Manchester United manager in the next five years. I will not be surprised or disappointed to learn that our club is merely a stepping-stone in his promising career. He will be better equipped to achieve a greater profile at Villa Park than at Carrow Road, with (slightly) more funds, more pulling power and one of the best training facilities and academies in the country.

Some would undoubtedly be at their computer right about now screaming "what about the fickle fans?" Time is the most important thing needed for him to be a success. I`m confident he will be given it in abundance, even though our fan base has been accused of a fickle nature in recent years, something hard to disagree with. With a breath of fresh air comes a new outlook, and having already heard of tens of people renewing their season tickets upon the news of Lambert`s appointment, there will be a buzz around Villa Park again.

He cannot be judged until our starting XI is dominated with his players and his vision, which in itself is subjective. But for us, most importantly, we must see a direction this coming season, something we saw nothing of in McLeish, saw glimpses of with Houllier, and saw in abundance in 2006/2007, O`Neills first campaign.

Expectations? No higher than tenth place, no lower than seventeenth. Football is not all about results, and nor should it be this coming season (40 points aside). It`s about being entertained, and seeing a future that is worth going through the turnstiles for. It will NOT happen over night.

So with this, in time I`m convinced we will become a team that is liked again. Some of us may not care if we are admired by supporters of other clubs, but nobody can tell me they didn`t take pleasure out of being praised by all corners of the media and neutrals for our performances under O`Neill. Lambert should bring this. But in time, please. Don`t let the media have a field day, there is nothing worse than the criticism WE received as supporters last year, when we knew full well we had no choice.

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The Journalist

Writer: Gerard Brand (@gedbrand91) Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday June 4 2012

Time: 9:14AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Alright calm down dear. Why would anyone let the insults of a few, understandably, disgruntled Norwich fans get to them?
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 09:36:00

chocolate teapot
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 09:49:00

Norwich fans would probably argue that the 'promising' tag should no longer apply - and if it should, then it does present a risk for an established PL club. I certainly agree with you that he needs time, agree that some fans have been vocal in their lack of support. But to be fair to all Villa fans, we're not expecting top 6 finishes or cup finals - we're expecting entertaining football, commitment and spirit that is instilled by the manager and a club to be proud of. I don't think Villa fans are any more fickle than the fans of other clubs, in fact I think only a small minority were anti-McCleish from the beginning. Lambert seems to be a breath of fresh air - one of the new breed of managers that doesn't tell his players how to play, but teaches them how to play. The league table might suggest a sideways step (if not backward) but it is onto a path that has, at this stage, got more potential. Of course, the other side of it is that it takes a lot less to have a more successful season with Villa than Norwich - although I don't think Lambert would have shied away from that challenge. Looking forward to an exciting (and probably frustrating) Summer and a fresh start next season.
Football is Life
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 09:51:00

Just ignore all the nonsense spouted by people who know nothing. I, too, see Lambert as a potential ManU manager when Sir Chewalot is finely put out to grass. No problem.

We are no more 'fickle' than any other fans. Listen to Arsenal fans moaning about Wenger or Spurs fans moaning about Redknapp. There will always be fans like those at every club. We have no more and no less than the others.

chocolate teapot
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 09:53:00

It saddens me to see Graham Taylor shot down like that. And please can we stop perpetuating the myth that we're fickle. No more so than any set of fans up and down the country.
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 09:55:00

Yes, very unfair on Taylor, as were the England fans when he left Villa to manage England.
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 10:16:00

I can understand the Norwich fans distress. We all felt the same when losing Barry, Milner, Young and even Judas Downing (you can see the ***** Downing still makes me mad). However, such is life. Players and managers will always move on to bigger clubs, it's the way of life. Aston Villa, although having underperformed for a number of years, is a much bigger club than Norwich - fact! I hope Norwich find another good manager to enable them to move on and that Paul Lambert instigates an ongoing improvement to our wonderful club.
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 10:21:00

That was a good read Gerard. I will comment on Manure - Lambert there, no I don't think so... more like Mourinho. The rest I tend to agree with.
Pride of Lions
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04/06/2012 10:25:00

why is everyone talking about lambert leaving (stepping stone to biiger and better things?????) before he has even stepped foot onto Villa Park?...Negativity breeds Negativity. Lets just focus on the here and now and enjoy the moment.
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 10:47:00

Every manager is on a stepping stone: do well you get a better offer, do badly and you get fired. That's life, that's a career. Only managers that this does not apply to are Ferguson and Wenger, though both are edging towards their own edge. Moyes too has created a nest rather than a stepping stone. Its only the supporters who stay around for a long time, or life. Agree that Taylor does not deserve the above comment.
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 11:08:00

lambert knew he probably wouldn't get 12th again with norwich - thats why the move was perfect for him.. he can get 12th again next season with villa and fans will think its an improvement. great move for him... and anyone thinks that its a backwards move is astonishingly dumb and clueless
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 11:18:00

Being entertained again WILL happen overnight mate. Eck almost sucked the life out of everyone so the only way is up now. It couldn't have got any worse. Reckon you're right RE: him going to Manure though. Hope that Randy and Co. have a replacement lined up and think ahead this time. Although Whelan is a dick at Wigan, I like the way that he treats Martinez and therefore he has stayed loyal. Might be good for Randy to be more so with PL. PL isn't a YES man so not sure that Randy will get on too well with him though?!?!?
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 12:04:00

M5villa - I agree, Downing is a t**t but to help me get over it I just take pleasure out of how awful he was for Liverpool last season. Watching his performances last year really made me laugh, at Downing for walking out and Liverpool for rashly spending 20m on him. Ha. Hahahahahahah. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. They deserve each other.
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04/06/2012 12:11:00

Can't really understand the article. Any one who thinks there is a case to argue over wether Villa is a sidewards step is obviously lacking grey matter or has a serious inferiority complex. The question should be "is it possible for PL to overcome the financial muscle of the suger daddy clubs to lead Villa to the title within the next 3 years?". Another question might be "considering we have the manager that all polls have indicated we wanted, and that we were singing for during the last game of the season at the ground of the club he was still managing, how many empty seats there will be at our first home game next season? The answer to that should be - none. Fans who aren't season ticket holders should be worried that they can not get into VP next season unless they stump up and get one. Unfortunately I do think we may answer one of the other points raised in the article about our fickleness. Lets hope we can prove everybody wrong and next season have the attendances that we had in M'ON's first season (average 40,079). UTV. Prepared. The 19th Minute.
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 12:21:00

What a tedious and puerile discussion. Let the disgruntled Norwich fans argue about this till the cow come home, but Villans should really show more grace. Really. Let it go.
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04/06/2012 12:34:00

can`t say i have said villa is a sideways step. More money and bigger player wages and more ambition. Seem we (norwich) are happy to finish 4th bottom every season, PL want to win things all the best to him.
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04/06/2012 15:06:00

The people at Villa who tend to make themselves heard over the majority are fickle... I dont you gave enough credit to Houllier... He should never have been sacked... He made some mistakes and they were big mistakes in the early part of his tenure but he was pointing us in the right direction... and many of the players we all want rid of would be gone had Houllier hung around... I will attack anybody who doesnt give Lambert a fair whip this guy knows what he is doing...
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 15:19:00

Enjoyable article, think the debate is a good one because some fans from other clubs have come into the forums 'daring' to say these sort of appointments (and Martinez) is a sideways step. Some fans (even our own) have lost sight of the size of Villa - not potential size, the actual size. Then look at the potential on top of that!

As for Graham Taylor, my heart sank when he returned because I adore the bloke. Doug shafted him promising him funds and not delivering (a list of players taken into the board meeting and left AT the table when Doug left)

100% agree that we are no more or no less fickle than any fan of any club though. I run the whole of this network, it is my living and therefore gives me a lot of time to be on and off other sites, policing comments etc (moderating etc I mean) and all fans get up and down ... it is the nature of football and is the reason the game is so great. Take that rollercoaster ride away and the passion would not be there.

I think this is a big step up for Lambert and personally think this might well be as big a job as he could have hoped for. Think about it, we are traditionally and statistically a top six club. Not last two seasons I know and that makes some say we are on a downward spiral as if we've never had bad managers and bad times before. So, take away us, Spurs and Everton would be sideways moves. Man City ? They wouldn't go for this sort of manager, nor would Chelsea. Arsenal? Doubt that one. Liverpool? Already shown not. Man Utd? Well, if they came in for him in a few years then he'd have had to have done a stunning job for us. So what is there to worry about? Nothing.
The Fear
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 16:04:00

CDX_EIRE, Houllier wasn't sacked? He was too unwell to continue.
Also gents, I think you'll find the author is talking GT mark II
The Fear
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 16:05:00

The one statistic which stands out when it comes to comparing Villa with Norwich - both clubs have around 22k season ticket holders. So Villa's real fan-base is generally overstated. What makes Villa the bigger club is that they have the local population to attract an audience to see the top teams when they visit and a greater market for selling corporate packages to the sporting junket neutrals. So as long as Villa stay in the Premiership they have more opportunities for success than Norwich. But the number of proper Villa fans is probably not much greater than Norwich supporters. Trying to deal with that reality has confounded both Ellis and now Lerner. Norwich's chances of getting into Europe are a lot less than Villa's but Villa's chances are still increasingly slim. And the Europa League is a poisoned chalice.
Steve Wade
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 16:28:00

There is a difference between the club and the team. Who knows what will happen to Manure when 'Chewalot' retires. Will RedScouse ever be a successful club again? Villa should be aiming to be the top team in the land. As The Fear has pointed out many so-called 'fans' have lost sight of the size of the club. RedScouse, Manure, Citeh and Chelskov are either media darlings since the 50's and 60's (the former two) or rich mans playthings (the latter two). Arsenal are the only consistently successful club in English Football since its creation. If Lambert gets a reputation as a 'Villa man' as Wenger is an 'Arsenal man' why would he want to leave. The tide is turning. Villa is back. In the next decade I predict that -- of the current 'big boys' -- only Citeh and Arsenal will be consistent challengers for the title. I also predict that if Lambert is given the time and the freedom, Villa will become a top four/title challenging club.
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 16:41:00

Like the article, don't agree with all of it, but makes you think which is what it's all about!
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 18:54:00

There is one thing I would disagree with after reading your article Gerard. In my ever so humble opinion I think football is most definatly all about the results. Yes we want to be entertained, but at the end of the day its the results that count. If we could play good stuff and win games then im sure we would all be a very happy bunch. Until that happens though, winning games and stacking up the points will do just fine.
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 19:12:00

What goes hand in hand with patience is realism. Lets not fall into the unrealistic trap that many of us fell into whilst MON was in charge. I just want better football. Not the kind we hand last season and not counter attacking football either...(proved to be very limiting when it really matters)
Report Abuse
04/06/2012 20:31:00


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