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Sunday, 02 March 2014

Aston Villa: Will Norwich have any fears of Lambert and Holt facing them again?

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It’s a rhetorical question really because the answer would be a resounding no. The sad fact is Norwich fans will be travelling to Villa rubbing their hands together believing they can pick up three points and pull themselves closer to safety.

In the meantime defeat for Villa really would start getting the alarm bells ringing and it would certainly be time to ask whether Lambert is up to the job.

He’s been tactically inept all season and after a few early signs of promise the majority of his signings have proved to be nothing more than bench-warmers, at best.

When Lambert came in he made some sweeping changes but pretty much all his signings settled and formed part of his future plans.

This season the only player to make an impact has been Leandro Bacuna, who has played pretty well but isn’t exactly a world-beater.

Lambert dejectedLambert harps on about how young and inexperienced the side is and how everyone needs time to gel and settle in the team. Then he goes and blows everyone’s mind and signs Grant Holt on loan until the end of season - a player in the twilight of his career, who had previously been struggling to score in the Championship.

Holt couldn’t believe his luck when he was paraded in a Villa shirt.  You could almost see him walking around in a daze thinking ‘has this really happened?’.

Perhaps we’re being too harsh on Holt because he hasn’t really been given a chance and when Lambert has played him it’s been wide right, wide left or, unbelievably, as an attacking midfielder.

The man is out of form, out of shape and the only possible quality he could bring to the Villa side is to play alongside Benteke and try to bully, or scare, defenders around him. For some unknown reason Lambert has decided to play him in every position other than his favoured one.

You can’t really knock Holt, just like you can’t really knock Ciaran Clark, Joe Bennett, Tonev, Jordan Bowery or any other the other players who should not be in the side.

It’s Lambert whose picking them – they’re not picking themselves – and to be fair it’s their lack of quality that’s the issue, not the fact they are not trying, which is all you can really ask for.

Things really have started to reach breaking point at Villa when the majority of fans are praying for a win, would expect a draw but would not be at all surprised if the game ended in an away win against Norwich.

The game at Newcastle summed up much of Villa’s season – lots of running and fight for the first few minutes where they looked capable of getting a goal. What followed was exactly the same players producing one of the worst second half performances I have ever seen in a long time – and that’s saying a lot this season.

The football is shocking, the tactics are nowhere to be seen, confidence in the squad is at an all time low and the side is sliding perilously close to the relegation zone.

It’s not just Villa fans who are noticing how poor the performances have been. 

Whenever Villa have played on television fans across the country have been confirming our worst fears, that we are one of the worst footballing teams in the league. The supporters have tried to get behind the team, stir up some passion and cheer them on to victory but as each game has passed the more deflated everyone has become.

The shouts for Lambert to go are getting louder and when he continues to keep Marc Albrighton on the bench – and not even use him – and puts Holt and Bowery, before he was loaned out, in front of Helenius, who has not looked too bad when he’s been given a rare chance, it’s easy to see why.

The chances of Lambert of being sacked are slim to none so although it’s every fans right to call for his head, at the same time we need to get behind the side.

If we can stay up this season this summer’s transfer market will be the most crucial in many years. Lambert has done well reducing the wage bill, either loaning out Villa’s under-performing players or simply selling them on. He’s had to pretty much rebuild the entire squad in two years, which isn’t easy, but now we have more strength in depth – perhaps strength not being the best word to use there – if we could add just a couple of quality players through the spine of the team, we would be a completely different side.

But we need to worry about another six-pointer today.  Whether Lambert or the squad is capable of getting anything out of it remains to be seen.

Article by James Fisher

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