Cash In The Bank? Paul Lambert’s Needed January Policy

Terrace Talk

It would be easy to get caught up in a lot of the doom and gloom that many Aston Villa fans seem to be enduring at the moment, very easy to have a ‘glass half empty’ pessimistic view point on things, and very easy to criticise our young team. We have, after all, had our worst ever start to a league campaign, but I’m not going to start on the team for the following reasons.

Paul Lambert’s appointment in the summer not only excited and captured the imaginations of Villa fans, but it also united us as the past couple of seasons had seen a division in either pro- or anti-Gerard Houllier/Alex Mcleish supporters respectively. So to have unity amongst the Villa fans has been a breath of fresh air to say the least.

After Lambert had come in, then came a new sense of optimism – here we had a young, dynamic, no nonsense manager with a fantastic playing pedigree. Add into that he had worked wonders with Norwich & he quickly started to put his own stamp on things by bringing in new faces. In fact some felt he brought in so many new faces, that they even thought that a top six finish was achievable.

I was not one of them. Not because I do not believe in Paul Lambert – on the contrary, I think he is perfect for our club – but I see the bigger picture. After all, many of the players coming in were relatively unknowns and none of them had Premier League experience – they would need time to grow and gel as a unit if we were to be successful.

As well as Lambert’s capture, Michael Henke was bought in to head the scouting operation, showing a clear sign that Lambert saw Aston Villa as a project to work on over the next few years rather than a ‘throw money at it’ quick fix mentality.

It all started well…

After a good pre-season seeing us playing attractive, passing football, the away fixture to West Ham on the opening day of the season couldn’t come soon enough. It was, as we all know, a massive anti-climax. A home loss against Everton followed seven days later which added to our despair.

Since then our season, and form, has been up and down. Surrendering a 1-0 lead away from home to lose 4-1 to newly promoted Southampton, beating Manchester City in their own back yard in the league cup, the drab 1-1 with Norwich City, and a hard fought 1-0 victory away from home at Sunderland all being prime examples of this.

Our unpredictable form has led to some pundits, with ridiculous hair styles, touting us as relegation candidates. I don’t think we are, but I can understand why some would think that – like I said, our form has been erratic to say the least. We looked phenomenal against Swansea and poor versus Southampton. Then we had Manchester United on the back foot before seemingly hitting the self-destruct button.

Our issue is we have been a Jekyll and Hyde team but, over the past few games, I have seen a few things that have given me confidence that we are improving and heading in the right direction.

Our last five games have seen us pick up 7 points from a possible 15. It isn’t a great haul in numeric terms, but when you consider that three of those games were against three of the best sides in the country, and that the other two games were both wins against teams that are around us in the table, it doesn’t read too badly for me.

Nobody expected us to get anything from the United, City, or Arsenal games so to have had United on the run for an hour, and also to have earned a hard fought point against Arsenal must be considered a better outcome than most expected? Isn’t that enough to be feeling more positive than before?

We have the potential, the next step is fulfilling it

We have shown that we can dig in and fight when needed, highlighted in the Sunderland game, there we had every single player putting a massive shift in & some cavalier, die-hard defending kept the opposition at bay despite them throwing everything but the kitchen sink at us.

We have shown against Reading that even though we didn’t play well, we kept on going, didn’t let our heads drop, and ground out a result which in fairness could have gone either way. Staying up means winning these type of games, and we won. We have a winnable game against Stoke at home and, if the right Villa team turn up, we may be able to steal something from Chelsea too – there is no reason why we can’t go to Stamford bridge and get a win or at least a draw as we have done it before.

We are improving, slowly but surely we are getting there. We have to take into consideration that we are only 14 games into not only a new manager’s time at the club, but also a new squad’s – a group who are still growing together but who are still learning.

The fact that we have so many young players in our team has been embraced by many, myself included, but it has become apparent that we need some older heads in the squad, the type of players who have experience and could have got the lads to keep it at 2-0 for longer against United. Personally I think we need some experienced players to join in January, and I fully expect Paul Lambert to address this.

What puzzles me is that many seem to think that Randy Lerner will not back Lambert financially in the next window. I don’t think this will be the case, Lerner has proved before that he is willing to spend to keep us safe – the Darren Bent and Jean II Makoun transfers and the Kyle Walker loan are testament to this.

The way I see it, Randy Lerner will be more than aware that the money Premiership clubs receive via TV rights is set to substantially increase, to the tune of around an additional £20/40 million per club each season. This deal would see an increase the money clubs receive from £50million to around £75-90million per club.

Let’s not forget, Lerner is a businessman. Businessmen like to make money and so he will see additional money on offer for TV deals next season. He will know that if the worst was to happen, and Villa proved the pundits right in their predictions, he would be missing out on a lot of money next season. Therefore, I fully expect Mr Lerner to play the odds and realise that giving Lambert money to ensure our Premiership status will be seen as a sound short-term investment as he will see a return on it sooner rather than later.

We’ll be OK in the end, we just need to keep pushing

Taking all these factors into account such as the gradual improvement in football, the massive improvement in the work ethic the team has, the unity amongst the fans and a team waiting to really click, I believe that things are really on the up for our club.

I am expecting some new, experienced, exciting faces to come into the team in January which will give the team a healthy balance of flair, youth and experience. After that, I fully expect us to improve as the season goes on and to really start to gel sooner rather than later.

I have said this all along, give me Premiership safety by late March, early April and I will consider that a success. This in turn will give us a stable platform to build on next season where I would hope to see further improvement.

The Aston Villa project is one that will take time, and I believe that Paul Lambert is the man to take us forward. He is building a legacy at our great club and we are on the up, even if it is slowly. What we have to remember is that this is a marathon & not a sprint.

Are things set to turn around for Aston Villa? In my opinion, they are.

  1. Ryan GriffithsRyan Griffiths02-12-2012

    Ben a good piece mate, and well put. Your view very much mirrors my own in terms of the task at hand.

    We’ve seen that a ‘quick fix’ can be taken apart as quickly as it was put together.

    Good things come to those who wait!

  2. B62 VillaB62 Villa02-12-2012

    I hope your right about old Randy backing Lambo in the January window, as B6 alluded to the other day, i also have a nagging feeling that if we stumble through to Jan and were not in the bottom 3, he wont back Lambo with much cash. There seems to be a fractious split amongst the fans as to how well Lambert and the team are progressing or not as the case may be. Whichever side of the argument you sit, i think everyone agrees this team needs help and an influx of quality is desperately needed come Jan.
    I think fans are just frustrated at the percieved lack of progression and the constant relegation battles.

  3. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey02-12-2012


    Do you think Lerner can afford not to back the manager though?

  4. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey02-12-2012


    You sound like a Guinness advert!

  5. Ben SpareyBen Sparey02-12-2012

    Cheers Ryan :)

    B62, Fans are disgruntled by our fall from grace, I agree mate, as for the ammount of cash Randy makes available, I would immagine that PL has already idntified his targets & they already have a figure/budget in mind to allow Lambert to act as quickly as possible come January.

  6. B62 VillaB62 Villa02-12-2012

    I dont think he can afford not to back Lambert, however between Lerner and Faulkner, logic and reason has never been their driving force.
    If he is backed we need to spend around £40m at least over the next 2 windows.
    We need 1 CD, 2 MF, 1 ST as a minimum, especially with bent going.
    We should be able to recoup some of that with the sale of DB9 and free up wages from alot of our dross which will hopefully be moved on.

  7. J.P. WilsonJ.P. Wilson02-12-2012

    ben- great piece… absolutely amazing.

    wish more people were positive over the villa project like u and me.

  8. FremFrem02-12-2012

    Just watching Norwich and they are playing some really nice stuff and are very hard to beat. 2-0 up. Maybe PL didn’t do a great job as everyone thinks?? maybe they were capable of even better ??

    some villa fans think he is a God. He still has a lot to do to prove he is the right man. January he has to buy better players, not just workers. We need better than Gabby and Holman being our creative players because they aren’t good enough. Thats my main concern, he wont buy quality players that will create, if he doesn’t, we will go down. we have no creativity or Balance and the football we are playing isn’t that good. It wasn’t yesterday, and it wasn’t against Reading

  9. J.P. WilsonJ.P. Wilson02-12-2012

    are u happy with benteke?
    cause if u r ull see more players of his quality, and prob price range, so 40 mil might be high,

    more like 30 mil over the next 2 windows, i expect to spend 15 this window.

  10. FremFrem02-12-2012

    We need 5 players at least for me. a CB, CM, wingers or inside forwards, what ever you want to call them, and a striker

  11. J.P. WilsonJ.P. Wilson02-12-2012


    PL came from norwich!!! that team is basically his! so if u like them, give him a f**king break and let him have time to build a better norwich!

  12. FremFrem02-12-2012

    fastback- did i say he didn’t buy any of them ?? just said maybe the players he has could have done even better.

  13. Ben SpareyBen Sparey02-12-2012

    thank-you fastback, its how I see it, we are an on-going project that will need time to click, thats why safety is the most important thing for us this season

  14. Ben SpareyBen Sparey02-12-2012


    I dont think fans think he is god, its more that many buy into his long term philosophy and vision, leading to them being more patient than they have with other managers.

    Like I said in the article, I would expect the signings made in January to adress the areas the need improvement and offer the squad not only youth and a willingness to work, but also creativity, flair and experience, giving us a healthy balance

  15. J.P. WilsonJ.P. Wilson02-12-2012


    maybe… maybe the league last year was a little more spread out, and it being their first year would make it difficult.
    just a thought.
    frem- since were watching the same game…
    how about craig guardner for CM? Has a rocket, keep his bro happy, and we all know he is homesick, if we put in a bid, i think he would make his club sell him.

  16. FremFrem02-12-2012

    Ben- thats when i will really judge him, after Jan. If he doesn’t adress the problems then i will worry about him. we lack quality big time but he never says anyhting about him, just goes on about hard work. we are one of the lowest goal scorers in the prem and have one of the worst defences in the league, some thing needs to change. i just hope he doesn’t buy work horses and buys real quality players who can make things happen. we aren’t getting any better in fromt of goal and playing AW, Gabby and Holman in creative areas ain’t gunna help. AW is a good striker, not a winger

  17. FremFrem02-12-2012

    fastback- i think hes over his homesick now. I dont rate him any way, we should be able do better. lest see what Henk has lined up

  18. B6toBrasilB6toBrasil02-12-2012

    Are you on crack cocaine or just a wind up merchant?Norwich playing some lovely stuff?Hughton is a good man,but who laid the foundations and stability that he inherited,Father Flippin Christmas.?
    You still haven`t responded to my request,please list the “quality”that S`land possess to send them as you put it “flying up the league”.
    Ben, a wonderful piece of writing sums up my feelings to a tee.

    BTW who do you want now that `Arry is at QPR?

  19. B62 VillaB62 Villa02-12-2012

    Fastback, Benteke has proved to be a raw talent that will get even better, his price was £7.5m – £10m depending on where y ou read(I think its closer to the £7.5m price tag), We need 4/5 players at least over 2 windows, if we only have £30m to spend we will struggle to get the required quality, and will end up shopping in the basement again. Price doesnt always equate to quality, theres always the odd bargain, but we are desperate and the price always rises when your in our situation.

  20. B6toBrasilB6toBrasil02-12-2012

    Ipswich in the FA cup at home.

    £20M in Jan,£30M in Ssummer but on fewer players.We`ll see a step up in quality IMO.

  21. Ben SpareyBen Sparey02-12-2012

    Thank-you very much b6 :)

    Who would I want now ‘Arry is at QPR, is that a question for me?

  22. B62 VillaB62 Villa02-12-2012

    Ipswich at home in the FA cup, happy with that and if were getting rid of Lambo it has to be Pep Guardiola for me :)

  23. Ben SpareyBen Sparey02-12-2012

    B62, thats ridiculous!!!!!

    We would only be able to replace Lambert with Mourinho, with a back room staff of Pele, Superman, Flash Gordon, Daley Thompson and God, whilst kitting the team out in diamond encrusted kits with boots made from platinum!

  24. Frankfurt VillanFrankfurt Villan02-12-2012

    Norwich’s win has resulted in the pack stretching further away from us. Villa are on 14 points, as are N’castle and Wigan, who play tomorrow. If one of them win, there will then be a 3 point gap to the next highest position, which would be 14th. The next position is a further 2 points beyond that, at 19 points.

    Far from the league being “tight”, the bottom four or five clubs are in danger of being cast adrift in a league of their own. The 5 points gained from our last 3 games already look priceless. At the the season’s halfway mark, it looks like Villa are going to have to excel just to hold on to 16th place. The remainder of the season is going to be an exciting ride!

  25. J.P. WilsonJ.P. Wilson02-12-2012


    i know what ur worried about, but i think ull see us start to pull up with the 10-15 group, leaving the bottom 5 to pick each others butts.

    qpr, reading, monderland all to go down.

    i like that, Mon-derland

  26. steamersteamer02-12-2012

    Hello Ben,
    Very nice leader mate. It is slow progress but progress nonetheless, I think the players as well as the supporters have been affected by the chaos over recent seasons, Graham gave Albri as an example, supporters of all the top clubs were raving about the lad when he made the first team, mismanagement has halted any progress but IMO he can come again, as Matt says, get him a loan period at a useful club and hopefully his confidence will return.

  27. B6toBrasilB6toBrasil02-12-2012

    No Ben S. thar question was for Frem.

    Pep G?No he`s cr*p,couldn`t even keep a clean sheet in the CL final v Man U.,loses too many games.
    And another thing the academy is cr*p we conceded a goal in a 5 -1 away win at Sporting Lesbian in the week.Sack all the academy staff too,they`re cr*p.

  28. B62 VillaB62 Villa02-12-2012

    Unfortunately I had the ‘pleasure’ of Listening to mcleish on talksport this evening, he was being asked about the Rafa situation at Chelsea, and fans giving managers no time and grief from the off, as he had suffered at the Villa.
    His answers were priceless, he stated he didnt think it would be that bigger deal, its not like its Rangers and Celtic. He played down the protests on his arrival and maintains if he had been allowed to buy the players he wanted he could have turned it round and kicked on. He stated all Randy wanted was the wage bill reduced and the finances balanced. But in the end his position became untenable.
    The funnt thing is this clown is now being linked with the Dingles hahahaha

  29. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara03-12-2012

    People need to separate this cost to quality thang…

    Yes of course it is true if you’re buying domestically… but I doubt very much we will be.

    Michu £2m.
    Ben Arfa £5m.
    Ba Free

    There is lots of club in far deeper bother than us in Europe and who need money quick.

    The is also a lot of players this season for one reason or another than are coming toward the end of their contract… DiSanto at Wigan, Hangeland at Fulham and Simeon Jackson at Norwich for example….

    People slag off MoN for spending fortunes on “experienced” players and then the minute we look to do something else everyone panics because we aren’t spending fortunes on experienced EPL players…. What gives?

    Ability will be just a important as attitude, hunger and professionalism in Lamberts squad and like it or not the squad will not be suddenly having 3 or 4 high class players parachuted in toit… A we can’t attract these types, B we can’t afford these types. We will have to once again mostly buy potential and develop.

    The sooner Bent has gone the distraction goes to… it can;t be easy for Lambert to manage a situation where Bent is reportedly on almost as much a week as ALL of his summer buy combined… and then to have Bent not buying in to the philosophy he wants him to.

    There are names names we could mention that are obvious to us, so I’ll sugest a few left field options I like the look of…

    Kuzmanovic (Stuttgart)- All round CM, Box to Box. Last six months of contract available for £4-6m

    Schwaab (Leverkusen) – Clever CB, 6ft 1″, strong and suited to the EPL. £3-4m

    Angoua (Valenciennes) – Strong CB. £2-3m

    Flamini – last 6 months of contract… even on laon to put him in the shop window… We know he can mix it in the EPL.

    Douglas – A name mentioned last season. Last 6 months of contract, won’t sign new one?