Lambert being backed for exit, but Aston Villa foolish to change
Knocked out of the FA Cup at home to struggling League One outfit Sheffield United, scorers of the fewest home goals in the Premier League this season and taking just four points from their last six top-flight games.
Things have certainly been better at Villa Park and the reaction to some below-par results and uninspiring football is that Paul Lambert has been backed into the 15/2 second favourite to be the next Premier League boss out of a job.
Improvement in terms of results and performance are certainly required at Villa, but it has to be said that sacking Lambert may only take the club backwards again.
Martin O’Neill threw money at attempting to break into the top four and the outcome was a big change being required to get the club back onto a level footing.
Lambert has had his own agenda in his 18 months in charge and has focused his transfer policy on acquiring from the lower leagues and some hidden gems from abroad.
This has significantly helped in getting the higher earners off the club’s books and gaining hungrier young players, on relatively modest basic wages, but with the opportunity to earn bonuses and develop their careers in a top league.
Lambert’s problem has been a little naivety in the value of experience in the Premier League. There is a strong possibility that two or three new faces in January could bring some improvement, especially if one new recruit is a playmaker.
Norwich’s Wes Hoolahan has been one name linked, alongside a loan move for Tottenham’s Lewis Holtby or Steven Defour, who has not been a first-team regular for Porto this season.
Villa’s team is regularly set up to hit opposition on the counter attack, which is one reason why they have been so much more dangerous in away games.
At Villa Park, the players seem to lack the creativity to break down the opposition, particularly those with the intention of getting numbers behind the ball.
It should not be glossed over either that Villa have not been helped by injuries, with Jores Okore a mammoth loss in defence, Christian Benteke not looking completely fit for much of the season and Ashley Westwood having a spell out.
The other question for Villa supporters is that if Lambert left, who could they realistically expect to replace him with?
Villa are far from the wealthiest in the league, are unable to offer great wages to recruit bigger names and have a squad that has potential, but is many seasons from the finished article.
18 months is not a great length of time for Lambert to sort out a squad in need of a lot of work and his plan was always a long-term one.
It is certainly a job that should be given until at least the summer to be scrutinised and another season avoiding relegation may not be the worst.
Aston Villa’s odds are 7/1 to be relegated this season.