Aston Villa: Has Lambert been told to get rid of all the high earners?
It seemed manager Paul Lambert had stamped his authority on the team early and had seen what the fans had seen. He then placed Hutton and Warnock straight on the transfer list. There was simply no messing around.
Even their biggest critics must have been surprised by the speed in which they were shown the door, although it’s been as difficult to offload them as the fans had expected.Not only had they not played well for an entire season, they were also on high wages, which were two of the biggest turn offs for any potential buyers.
After playing the opening game of the season, Charles N’Zogbia was next to feel Lambert’s wrath. Again he hadn’t had a good 2011/12 and no-one was surprised when he was dropped to the bench. He hasn’t been placed on the transfer list, but would anyone be surprised if he was allowed to go in the January transfer window?N’Zogbia’s below average performances and high wages have frustratingly combined to give him the tag of underachiever. That could be said about a lot of Premiership players, but as wages have gone through the roof, most chairmen have begun to cut their loses before it’s too late by offloading such players whenever they can.
The big talking points of Lambert’s recent first team choices have been the removal of Shay Given and, more importantly Darren Bent from the starting 11.Given appears to have lost his number one spot, which could be down to two reasons. He hasn’t been playing to the peak of his ability, but he is also one of Villa’s highest earners.
Lambert could possibly have seen in Brad Guzan a ‘keeper who is performing well, who is one for the future and does not command the same salary as Given.Bent has been dropped for two consecutive games, proving the first occasion was no kick up the backside for the striker who has not been firing on all cylinders, but is still the team’s top goalscorer.
Even after scoring against West Bromwich Albion, having come on as a substitute, he was dropped again the next game.Lambert seems to be very confident one of Villa’s latest signings, Christian Benteke, is good enough to take over from Bent. Benteke does appear to have all the attributes of a quality player and scored for his country, Belgium, again during the international break. He also scored on his debut for Villa against Swansea City, but went on to miss a couple of decent chances during Villa’s defeat at Spurs.
Bent is again one of Villa’s highest earners so perhaps Lambert’s been told if he can get rid of him there could be more money freed up to strengthen the squad.Other high earners include Stephen Ireland, who everyone is still waiting to see the best of, and Richard Dunne. Both are waiting to return from injury and will probably have to force their way back into the side.
James Collins and Carlos Cuellar, who were also on high wages, have already gone so there doesn’t appear too many left to sell.To sell or upset all your top earners is quite a bold move and after the opening home game of the season, when Villa were easily beaten by Everton, it looked like the squad needed more experienced players if anything, not less.
The season is still young but so is Villa’s squad. We can only hope if Lambert is planning to move on more of Villa’s high earners – whether the decision is coming from him or the board – he has enough managerial skills to stop Villa spiralling towards another season like we’ve just experienced, or even worse.
It’s Fulham away on Saturday, which will be a very tough match. One of the most interesting aspects of the game will be exactly who Lambert decides to go into battle with, and who he feels he can leave behind.
Calling all Villa fans: Do you share the same fears at James? Has Lambert been told to move on the high earners? Do you think Villa would be better or worse off with more hungry youngsters in the squad or do you think you need more experienced pros in there to help the youths along? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
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