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Saturday, 04 January 2014

Aston Villa: Will Lambert look to buy more experienced players during the January transfer window?

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The Villa team has been crying out for a few experienced heads since Paul Lambert took over as manager.

The Scotsman appeared to have bought well during the 2012-2013 season, bringing in several young players with a lot of potential.

Matthew Lowton filled the right back void well, Ashley Westwood looked comfortable in the middle of the park and Christian Benteke started superbly upfront finishing as Villa’s top scorer. But overall the side still looked extremely vulnerable at the back and very weak in midfield. They could easily have been relegated last season had it not been for a strong finish to the campaign.

It was clear the potential was there but the side needed a few wise heads to lead the young players and to relieve some of the pressure that had been placed on them.

BentekeLambert decided against that plan over the summer of 2013 and bought yet more young and inexperienced players.

It seemed his decision had perhaps been vindicated when the side beat Arsenal away from home on the opening day of the season.

Instead Villa’s early promised proved to be yet another flash in the pan as the team returned to its negative tactics and lack of creativity.

With no experienced players in the side to turn the fortunes around they went on to pick up one point from five games in November and December. It was all very reminiscent of the season before and got a lot of fans questioning whether Lambert did indeed have a vision for the future?

It sounds ridiculous to say such a thing as he has been in charge for just over 18 months, but the fact there have been no signs of any real improvement has got a lot of people agitated.

The side really missed the likes of Ron Vlaar at the back. He may not seem to do much when he’s playing, but as soon his presence and experience is taken away the defence looks incredibly weak.

Even when Gabby Agbonlahor, easily Villa’s longest-serving current player, returned he seemed to spur some of his team-mates on and has now scored two goals in two games.

With Benteke slowly returning to full fitness – and hopefully beginning to rekindle some of the form he showed last season – the side that faced Sunderland looked a lot stronger straight away.

Lambert was quick to praise his players, but for the first time since he took over he agreed the side needed some experience to bring the young players through.

It could prove to be such a pivotal moment because everyone who has been looking at that Villa side has been screaming for some more established players to help the inexperienced ones.

The format seems simple enough, but for some reason Lambert has been so unwilling to even discuss the possibility of playing experience with youth.

Whether Villa chairman Randy Lerner actually releases any funds is another matter altogether. There’s been talk of anything between £30 to £50 million being made available but that would be extremely surprising.

Perhaps Lerner has realised even if his club manages to avoid relegation year-after-year, while he replaces the high-earner players with young players from the lower leagues or from aboard, the fans are not going to be happy if the football and the performances are poor.

No-one expected Villa to set the world alight this year, but when the fans are struggling to see any real sign of improvement on last season, when the club faced the real possibility of being relegated, the people in charge have to sit up and start listening.

Any sort of funding in January would be welcome because, as Lambert admits, when Villa lose their top players it really hurts the side – because the replacements are simply not good enough.

A solid central defender and a creative midfielder, who can somehow provide a spark – particularly when Villa are playing at home – would make such a difference to the side.

Lambert may already have his eye on a few prospects and has freely admitted he would like to strengthen in January, so this month could be very interesting for Villa.

Article by James Fisher

Calling all Villa fans: Who do you think Lambert should bring to Villa Park? Can Villa move on to the next level with a few experienced heads? Is Lambert still the right man to take you forward? Whatever your view, we'd love to hear from you.

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