No Excuses for Lambert Failure, Aston Villa Have an International Class First XI

As Villa supporters are well aware now Paul Lambert’s results record at Villa is poor (especially the club’s home form), not only in terms of recent Premier League history but in terms of Villa’s entire 140-year history.

Excuses to Lambert’s Failures

There’s always mitigating circumstances. Some fans point to Villa being unlucky with injuries, but all clubs have their fair share, plus, if you’re buying a player with a history of spending time in the medical room ala Ron Vlaar, you have to take the rough with the smooth.

The number one defence of Lambert seems to be he’s had no money to spend.  We’ll not go into the maths again here. Yes, he hasn’t had riches to play with to get Villa challenging for Europe, but he’s wasted a lot of what he did have.

For example, he had enough cash for two right-backs (inc Bacuna), only to find out that he’d banished the best one to the bomb squad. Lambert also needed three stabs at finding a decent left-back too.

The current squad and the players he once had at his disposal, under good management with clear objectives and tactical nous, surely would have been good enough for a comfortable mid-table/ top half finish?

Some fans seem keen to present Lambert as a victim of Lerner’s tightened purse strings. Yes, he suffered having to follow terrible re-investment by the Villa board of the funds gained from the sales of the likes of Ashley Young, James Milner and Stewart Downing, why did Lambert freeze out the likes of Bent, N’Zogbia and Hutton, players that he DID have at his disposal?

Inconsistent Lambert Policies

Bomb Squad Change of Heart

It’s one thing banishing high wage earners from the first team squad to the ‘bomb squad’ in an attempt to have no distractions to the morale of the first team, but if you’re ditching five or six player out of principle, without any real funds to replace them, then it doesn’t seem the smartest call.

With the Villa boss eating humble pie this season to recall them into the fold, his ‘Bomb Squad’ venture is now seen as a failure and has undermined his authority.

He basically cut off his nose to spite his face, and it also led to Villa losing big money for nothing.

Young and Hungry Transfer Policy

Part of the ‘Bomb Squad”s formation was to help show the serious intent of his young and hungry (and cheap) transfer policy. It was a logical policy taken by Lambert, but the problem was he did it to the letter, without also supplementing his young signings with the odd experienced head. Still, the team is lacking from having a number of leaders on the pitch, while the likes of Sylla, Tonev, Helenius, Luna and Bowery are largely seen as failures.

In the last transfer window, Lambert then suddenly switched from his initial transfer policy to sign journey men on the cheap like Senderos, Richardson and Cole. All of which, for a team like Villa would only be squad filler at best.

Possession Football

Cast your mind back to the start of Lambert’s reign. The Villa boss’s first job was to oversee Villa’s USA tour and during Villa’s games in Chicago and Portland, he wasted no time in introducing a possession-based football approach. It continued through to the start of the season.

Villa fans were gleefully singing ‘We’re passing the ball’ in the opening game away at West Ham. Villa may have lost that game, but fans could see the potential benefits of what their new boss was trying to implement.

Lambert though soon ditched the possession ethos to rely on a pacy counter-attacking approach. It could be argued, the Villa boss’s hand was forced to play to the strength of the players in the squad, but ultimately it was ineffective in the final third, as the forwards didn’t seem to know how to create space, support players or move defensive lines about.

So, why switch back to it, mid-season, now? Yes, as supporters we’d like to see Villa play an effective version of it, but the possession football we’ve witnessed in the past few weeks, that lacks any cutting edge in the final third, harks back to the beginning of Lambert’s tenure.

Why all the changes of heart by Lambert over seemingly everything he does?

International Class

There’s this notion that Paul Lambert hasn’t been given the tools/money to do the job. It’s a myth. As we’ve touched on above, the Villa boss has enough talent in his squad at least for basic mid-table respectability.

Take the team that started against Leicester at the King Power Station, only Ashley Westwood in the starting line-up hasn’t had full international football experience.

Swap Westwood for the currently suspended Fabian Delph and you’ve got a full team of internationals. There’s also current internationals like Libor Kozak (Czech), Ron Vlaar (Holland) and Philippe Senderos (Switzerland), who once fit can also come in to boost the international credentials of the Villa first XI.

Aston Villa International Class XI

Brad Guzan – USA International

Alan Hutton – Scotland International

Ron Vlaar – Dutch International

Jores Okore – Danish International

Aly Cissokho – French International (albeit 1 cap)

Fabian Delph – England International

Carlos Sanchez – Colombian International

Tom Cleverley – England International

Christian Benteke – Belgian International

Andreas Weimann – Austrian International

Gabby Agbonlahor – England International (once upon a time) or Libor Kozak – Czech International


Phillippe Senderos – Swiss International

Ciaran Clark – Ireland International

Joe Cole – ex-England International


Lambert’s Failed Approach

The current squad and the players he once had at his disposal, under good management with clear objectives and tactical nous, surely would have been good enough for a comfortable mid-table/ top half finish?

A more measured transfer policy rather than the extreme one mentioned above, would have given him more depth to his squad to address injuries within the actual money he has received.

The constant shenanigans with his background staff – from Culverhouse to Keane – couldn’t have helped his players in the slightest. Ultimately, the buck stops with Lambert on the hiring of his number two’s.

While Lerner’s confused approach to what he’s actually doing with the club hasn’t helped matters at all at Villa Park, one look at Lambert’s track record with Villa in terms of results and also the reputation he has given the club, and it is impossible to defend his position as manager.


After the Villa vs Chelsea game that saw Jose Mourinho win his first game at Villa Park, the Chelsea boss commented on his opponents: “If they go down, it’s not because of the quality of their players, for sure.”

It’s a sentiment that echoes our thoughts. The Lambert apologists state he’s had no money to spend. It’s a myth, his players are good enough to be doing much better than they currently are. UTV

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  1. The defence is good, 5th best in the divison. But we only have Okore and Baker available on Saturday, and no reserve full backs. The attack is the massive problem

    Villa are on course for the worst attack in PL history. The all time record for a 38 game league is Derby 2007-08 0.53 goals per game. We now have 0.52 goals per game, next worst |Sunderland 0.86.

    If we get Carles Gil looks a good signing. RUmour is that the deal includes money to Valencia if he is picked for Spain, a million euro payment when he plays 20 for us. They rate him highly.

    Let us hope they are right. Signing a winger crucial. Aaron Lennon could be available from Spurs, perhaps on loan? We need width.

    Trevor Fisher.

  2. The way i see it : in the beginning ……………………

    Villa balancing the books (this was VITAL, i saw the whole account books) – agenda – sell high earners – *i agree

    PL decided to buy budget buys – which also had low wages when plucked from 2nd division sides – *i think he bought too many .. i’m losing count already!

    Due to the above, Villa had to play 5 in midfield – *i agree

    2014/15 Due to the increase in revenue from the premier league, RL give the go ahead to let the ‘bomb squad’ to be reintroduced to the team, (plus the usual annual funds being released) – *totally agree (due to being high earners, there was no movement)

    Opinion : i was overjoyed with the team this season. 8 players in (inc bomb squad) with the option of getting back to a 2 strikers upfront (much needed)

    So what have we got? … Benteke mumbling to himself alone up front … 2 strikers playing on the wings … and a manager who is tactically inept and obsessed with a defensive playing style (like Mcleash)

    Hmm … If i was a manager and i got our team sheet which included the likes of Bent – Benteke – Vlaar – Senderos – Delph – Cole – Guzan .. I would be very happy indeed, Not to mention the likes having a versatile Richardson – Hutton! (yes, i always saw what other people didnt) – Weimann .. all great workhorses!

    Putting it simple, i could tick all the boxes of what i need in a team i.e. #A a good goalkeeper – #2 A good defense. #3 A good striker … and #4 a good playmaker (Cole – Delph) … adding to that a defensive options of Sanchez – Richardson, PL should be doing better. If HE can grasp the concept of having one man upfront, aided and abetted by 2 none wingers playing wide is not working, then we may stand a chance (have you seen our goal diff.? its a gr8 *indicator of who’s for the drop) … 4-4-2 PLEASE!

    • Bent past it
      Benteke injured
      Vlaar injured
      Senderos injured
      Cole injured/unfit

      yes that looks very good if your living in a dream world where players are always 100% fit when required to play trouble is that in the real world players don’t stay fit , and managers have to field teams that are far from ideal
      And it might be easy on the likes of FM to select players to fill notional positions in a team and have them perform as desired but in the real world managers have to contend with the “fox & goose scenario” where personality clashes may make selecting what seems on paper an ideal team impractical . And frequently such clashes are not discovered when making new signings if the offenders have not encountered each other in the past

  3. It is a completely specious notion that being ‘international class’ should guarantee you midtable respectability. The Premier League is one of the 2 best leagues in the world. Every team in the league is of international class. Let’s take Leicester City and put the same argument that because they’re international class, they too should be looking at midtable respectability. But of course we know they shouldn’t be. They’ll be doing very well to just stay up.

    Here’s their international class.

    K.Schmeichel – Danish international

    M.Wasilewski – Polish international Laet – Belgian international
    P.Konchesky – ex-English international
    W.Morgan – Jamaican international
    M.Upson – ex-English international

    A.King – Welsh international
    J.Schlupp – Ghanaian international
    E.Cambiasso – ex-Argentinian international
    R.Mahrez – Algerian international

    C.Wood – New Zealand international

    Z.Bakayogo – Ivory Coast international

    You could probably do similar for every club in the league, bar maybe Burnley (which would still leave 2 international class sides going down). It means nothing in a league as strong as this. Or to paraphrase Syndrome – ‘When everyone is international class, no-one is’.

    • The point is the manager has decent enough tools (players) to make an impact and reach mid-table. Our international quality is better than Leicester’s too.

  4. \as soon as Lambert made public his “new style” I said he was going back to the start of his reign at Villa, when he failed with the same style.
    Possession is about going forward with the ball, and scoring goals, we do neither, it’s sideways and back to the keeper. I’m sure Guzan has more passes from Villa players than Benteke does.
    We don’t have enough skillful players to carry out that system, and not the manager to devise the tactics.
    I just wish he would get lost and take everyone at Villa Park with him so we could start all over again, some f*****g hopes!

  5. hutton was a LIABILITY,,,, his turn around is amazing, as is clarke and the defence in general
    the passing in midfield , possession, and pass and move is brilliant, right up to the f**king last third,,,

    but if you cant score you cant win games, his inability to play a formation which offers strength out wide
    and support to benteke will cost him and maybe cost us all

    there are lots of excuses,, some valid, but we have reached the point where no one has any confidence
    on and off the pitch
    i want us to play better football but we have to play to our strengths
    none of the midfield look capable of scoring so the wide players are very important, this means hutton and sissoko cant be relied upon to provide width and crosses,,,, support and get into the box yes, but
    not to cross
    its no good playing like barcelona if half your team could not get a game for bognor

    lambert has done a lot of good things this year, but his tactical ability is in serious doubt, almost to the point of beyond saving,,

    the only positive for me is we have a run against the better teams and that may give us space to
    counter, but if i was any team in the prem i would just sit back and wait for the chance to counter
    like man u did last year

    this team is capable of more, and lambert has to get it sorted and fast,,

    but to me the end is nigh,,,

    • Yep, the problem boiled down to it’s simplest terms is there is no service. No real threat from the wings and a limited midfield have been the downfall throughout Lambert’s term. In his first year, the forwards were creating there own chances the majority of the time on the counter.

  6. 66 years since first visit to villa park,in my opinion,this team is playing the worst football of all those years.Lambert came when we had such promising youth,most now departed,now we are not building for the future,just trying to avoid relegation. Fans can accept defeat if there’s a plan,a system and 100% effort. What did we offer against Leicester? The buck stops with Lambert if he can not manage under Learners ideas,then man up and get out.

    • True. If there was a plan, something to believe him and some visible ambition, it would be a different story. It seems to be aimless now and five years of patience is pretty good for supporters. We just can’t go on like this and have any self-respect as supporters or a club. It must be fixed by hook or crook.

  7. Spot on. Whose also to.say it wasn’t Lerner who wanted the bomb squad to get the players off the wages quicker? Easy to use Lambert as the point of all evil, but this article seems to blame some of lerners failings on him too.

  8. Spot on. We know Lambert ain’t going nowhere because Lerner wants his scapegoat for the duration of the sales. Why did here talking if something can be done. Either Lerner or Lambert out obviously, I’d prefer Lerner to be the first. I’d like to see how people are looking to.go about it.

    Me personally, if decided if this is another window where Lambert doesn’t get a decent amount to rectify some of our weaknesses, then I’ll stop giving Lerner that money via my ticket and shirt sales. Simple and something within my control

  9. Paul lamberts plan or plans when it comes to the way we play suggest to me that from day one he had no real plan at all this season he took a trip to see bayearn train he then brought that idea to villa and has tried to implement it here and so far it’s not worked , I know these things take time to click into place but his propel em wasn’t possession it was sticking the ball in the onion bag which has been an issues for more than four seasons , although we have benteke the pressure on this lad to score is massive the rest of the team has lost its drive and do not play with freedom or expression we have lots of attacking talent but lack the no how when it comes to getting the best out of them that is bad management bad training and bad planning , the man responsible for all of this is lambert he does not command respect from his coaches employed Keane who ducked out because of other commitments again that was a bad decision , this is lambert all over , listening to his interview on wm last night where he said we don’t have a blame culture means that is ok to fail without portioning blame well blame is needed a pointing finger at the main reason for our demise and that finger is pointing at you lambert , team member needs clear instruction and guide lines so they can do there jobs right strikers need a target , atleast 15 goals each for those who are playing regular at least 10 to 12 from midfield and four or five from the defence if we don’t set clear and proper targets then you will fail and that is what you are doing failing the blame ,,,yes blame because some one is accountable lies with you lambert , everyone is allowed to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and move forward you are going backwards at an alarming rate 11 goals in 21 is not progress our position is ok because the rest f the league is bloody poor very poor infact only some off those teams have spirit and desire and passion you lack all of these attributes …….you deserve the sack you will be sacked the sooner the better .
    Just one more thing if Southampton can get Koman surely we can find a very decent manager for our club

  10. and he has a four year contract. What do you actually suggest be done? How about an ACTION PLAN? We can all talk till the cows come home. Do MOMS or AVST actually have any proposals on what to do?

    Action not words please. You have channels of communication with the club

    what are you saying to the officials?

    Trevor Fisher

    • 9am Tuesday,13th Jan 2015. A proposal to see if Villa supporters are willing to make a stand. Do fans want to walk the walk or simply just moan the moan?

  11. I totally agree with your article. Please forward to AVFC for immediate action. A half decent manager should get a lot more from this team. On paper we should not have been outplayed by Leicester yesterday.

  12. Interesting article as always. My only question is who would or should his replacement be? there really aren’t many realistic options out there, none that jump out anyway

  13. Oh so the players many complain aint good enough for Villa can be discovered to have International status albeit in some cases very dubious status at that level .
    In fact although Hutton has been a regular in the Scotland squad/team was it not the FANS who wanted him out of the club & who regularly hurled abuse at him ,when he was played before Lambert took him out of the firing line of fans abuse ?
    And how can Lambert field such an International team, if half of them are not fit to play due to injury ?

    • Injuries are not the be all and end all, the squad is weak, a few injuries should not affect the team, how many of his signings has Lambert booted out? Half a team I reckon, yes, his poor signings who have no right to wear a Villa shirt, his hit and miss transfer policy is coming back to haunt him, and us. Time to make up another excuse Mr Gale.

      • Excuses Kranky ? From that I assume that part of being a Krank is the lacking in the ability to count or understand the difference between FActs & excuses but then I suppose being a krank is an appology for the excuse of being ignorant ! Of course the squad is weak when we had an CEO who thought buying cheap versions of the players we & Lambert really needed to get success was OK ,as long as we spent under budget But that’s perhaps too complex for a Krank to understand . As for a few injuries but correct me if I am wrong but did we not start the season with both our main strikers injured ? And is one of them not still injured . And how many games has our club Captain played this season ? No a few injuries should not matter, but the absence of several key players from the squad does matter !

        And for those still wondering why Lambert has not been sacked why should he be , as he is doing as he has been asked to do . And we have Lerners words on that .

        But we do have a new CEO who seems to have a new direction for the club to move in , but he was not appointed untill the tail end of last season . But we did manage to sign Sanchez durring his reign , so perhaps we should see what other players might arrive durring Fox’s 1st full transfer window , as clearly the squad does need strengthening

    • Gale Force – 10 of the 11 that lined up vs Leicester have been capped at International level. Also, you’re not the greatest revisionist. You seem to blame fans for anything you can get a handle on. Hutton was a liability. Lambert wanted him gone, but couldn’t sell him. It was Hutton himself (and all credit to him) that turned the situation and his fortunes around.

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