What We Learnt as Villa Fans as Empty Seats Greet Lambert

By Chris Kemps



… and it was worth the wait. Alongside Clark, Okore was effective, solid, fast, and put in one of the best passes in the game when he hit a Vlaar-esque long ball to switch play to the opposing side… except it was inch-perfect and not a pass/snow-attracting clearance as Concrete Ron’s more often are.

The only real blot on his performance was the booking which was mistimed and while Lambert was quick to say how it was his first game in 14 months (if you don’t count his games with the Villa U-21’s, the Danish U-21’s and Denmark’s senior team) it could have been down to being rusty or just being tired. So, we learned what we had all suspected: he’s ready to go now… even if he might (ahem) not have been before.


A new, new low under the Lambert regime, set at PL’s 100th game in charge: just 25,311 fans attended the game against Southampton – the fewest for 15 years. Lambert blamed the cold and the fact the game was on TV. He could also legitimately blame the move from the Saturday was a late switch that might have meant for some fans being unable to be there. But, and this is just speculation, a game against an unfashionable upstart of a team who were on a hot streak with our 4th and 5th choice central defenders playing, no Benteke, no Delph, and only one point from a potential 21 “might” have had some part in it too.



Here’s one example of how things have changed: there was a time under Brian Little (happy birthday, by the way, O Water-Walking One) when Villa filled their away allocation at Peterborough on a Wednesday night in the league cup with a 6-0 lead from the first leg.

The bookies didn’t give us much chance last night, regardless of how the game went in the end (one shot on target, Guzan keeping us in the game, Weimann playing as an extra left back, our midfield ball–winner subbed out for a striker while the team hung on for the win… then the draw). If this trend keeps up, and attendances continue to drop, someone with some power at the club is going to ask “why?” And that will lead to some nasty conversations at a high level.

This was a special game to mark an incredible landmark in the club’s history. A little cold weather, an opposition lacking a really big name star, and the fact the game was on the telly probably wouldn’t have turned off 10,000 fans 20 years ago. Hardly takes a genius to see how more attractive, wining football might have an effect on attendance too.


Villa fans should be rightly proud of what they accomplished this week – and also take heed that they are being listened to. The campaigns for the applause in the 21st minute of the Southampton game was probably going to go ahead regardless of official club sanction or not thanks to the power of social media. But the fact the club, who were dithering in the face of public attention to the idea of remembering those lost in the pub bombings, eventually conceded to an idea created by fans is good news for everyone.

The same can be said for the very classy lamp monument remembering the creation of our club 140 years ago. It’s been said elsewhere on MOMS and in the face of Sky thinking they invented football in the 90’s that the time to start planning for the club’s 150th “birthday” in 2024 is now – and the erection of this lamp, plus the parade of all-star players that will be coming out for the game moved on a whim to Monday night by the string-pullers at Sky are signs that even in this darkest run of form that Villa’s proud history cannot be taken away from us, the fans.


Southampton’s Serbian midfielder Dusan Tadic could have been a Villa player, according to Paul Lambert. Lambert said he tried to sign the player, one of the biggest talents in Koeman’s revolution in his new look Southampton, but there were “loads of factors that meant we couldn’t get it done”… Though it seems the main one was FC Twente “wanted a right few quid” for him. How close negotiations were, who knows? But it sounds like a fee couldn’t be agreed, let alone any discussions over player wages or personal terms. So, fans have learned we can’t compete for high-priced quality players – but Southampton, flush with cash from selling their best and brightest homegrown talents, could. And that’s pretty miserable reading.


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  1. Despite the problems of the last two years I was happy for Lambert to stay this season. There’s no obvious alternative and he deserved the chance to manage with his own squad not others’ deadwood.

    But after the Soton game I think, for the first time, Lambert has to go sooner rather than later.

    For a result on the night, given the form book and our injury problems, it was clearly an ok point. But in the wider context it was an absolutely damning verdict of Lambert’s tenure.

    Fundamentally a club of Aston Villa’s size and stature should be embarrassed to be reduced to that sort of performance at home to anyone, let alone a provincial yo-yo club. We were set up like a non-league team in the FA Cup third round, ten men behind the ball and only capable of scoring after the oppo keeper misjudged a massive punt.

    Lambert has managed to keep clean sheets only by playing these tactics. And there is no midfielder, winger or second striker/number 10 at the club who can get on the ball, dictate tempo and possession, and *create* rather than hoping for an oppo error. For the third year in a row if you take Benteke out of the team we are the worst team in the division.

    Limitations throughout are now entirely Lambert’s responsibility. After the game he said we’d “done brilliant” against a team that “has spent a lot more than us, that’s for sure”.

    Er…. no, actually. Our net spend both since Lerner arrived and since Lambert took over is much higher than Southampton. To the extent that they spent more last summer this was reinvestment of money they got for selling on players at a profit and youth development.

    Villa by contrast have spent a fair amount of money since 2012 and only one player has gone up in value. The Hutton experience shows that the ‘bomb squad’ can offer something yet a team with a chronic shortage of goals can make no use of Bent, a proven goalscorer. And a never-ending line of promising kids with dozens of youth medals never seem to make it. That is a failure of management throughout the club, but Lambert has to take most of the blame.

    It was hearing his praise for that performance on Monday that pushed me over the edge. How diminished are we as a club when we it is “brilliant” to nick an undeserved point *at home* to *Southampton*?

    There is no reason now to think it will get any better. He won’t employ any tactics except ultra-reactive counter-attack, which only spells relegation battle. He has not been able to bring in a single ball-playing midfielder or forward. He has been for the most part a disaster in the transfer market. He has no interest in the cups. He has not developed a single youth teamer into a Premier League regular.

    It is simply not true that he has done well given the constraints. Villa have a top-half wage budget and transfer spend since he took over, and we remain a one-man team. There are still no ideal alternatives, but there must be plenty who could do a better job.


    • Shame it took you so long to recognise the flaws in Lameberks thinking. You and others like you are just as culpable as the man himself. Many of us right thinking fans knew early doors that the bloke was incapable of moving us forward. You should hang your head in shame in thinking he was of some use to this club.

      • Excellent point. Hopefully the new owner shares your infalliable prescience. Right thinking fans deserve nothing less.

      • Do you even attend VP? Talk about patronising, your opinion matters no more than the next “fans” opinion. You probably agreed with the sacking of Ron Atkinson.

  2. Regav asks a fair question. Tom Fox is still new to the job, and given the silence enforced at Villa I do not expect him to say anything. But he must be in shock coming from Arsenal to Villa to discover that we are again fighting relegation and have a manager whose tactics are so negative we have the lowest goals to matches ratio in 5 English and 6 Scottish divisions.

    The message was we are on the up only 3 months ago.

    However the question should be directed to the SUpporters Trust as their officers met the club only a few weeks ago and were told the CEO has a plan.

    What is the plan?

    Trevor Fisher.

  3. Worst side since Graham Turners was in charge, and we ended up relegated, two goals since September, come on guys wake up and move the Lamb to the slaughter.
    UTV From Sydney Australia. (still a season ticket holder)

  4. This regime is adisaster. I have not been down for a year first not ben to a game in a season in nearly 60 years. If I can get some tickets may try an away game. The longer Learner stays the worse it will get I am seriously concerned about going bust in championship next year. And giving the donkey manager a new contract. Well even Faulkner would not have been that stupid. Or would he?

  5. If Villa lose to Burnley, who have won their last two games. the crisis will become so obvious that the media will start to take notice.

    Lambert has in the last two games shown that the priority is defence and the attackers get no support from midfield who cannot support the isolated forwards who rely on breakaways.

    Losing two home leads is more than just coincidence. Burnley suddenly looks like a monster match

    trevor fisher.

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