Date: 31st December 2012 at 11:01am
Written by:

The Telegraph have an article saying that Paul Lambert has a budget of £10million plus any money from sales he can generate.

The reporter, John Percy, says that Paul Lambert and Randy Lerner have met a couple of times in the last few days and it has been decided, no real surprises here, that Stephen Warnock, Shay Given, Alan Hutton, Richard Dunne, Charles N`Zogbia and Stephen Ireland as well as record signing Darren Bent could be available for sale.

Meanwhile, Lambert will target a central defender, a left back, a ‘ball winning midfielder` and another striker.

It has to be said that, in my opinion, it is highly unlikely that a reporter will know the transfer funds, the Club don`t say these sort of things! However, that list of players who could be allowed to leave makes sense, they are all top earners and would free up wages. For me it is more about experience than wages, I don`t have to deal with the balance sheet. Dunne should go because his sort of ‘influence` isn`t what we need at Villa, Hutton should never have come although to be fair to him, he didn`t deserve to be ridiculed and dropped to the kids for training, he wasn`t what we wanted as a player but he always gave his all. I can`t for the life of me see why a manager wouldn`t be good enough to manage and get the best out of Bent but hey, that argument has been done to death. I kept hoping with Ireland he`d come good, but he won`t and the booing off of him v Wigan sort of said it all. N`Zogbia let down the manager who put £10m worth of faith in him, I`d love to see him gone (or for him to wake up but that doesn`t look likely, yet more money wasted) but I`d not let Shay Given go, not until the summer at least, we need his experience should Guzan get injured surely?

I also can`t see how the experience of Warnock couldn`t have helped. He had a poor season last season and still made the most interceptions of any full back. With shipping in 15 goals in 3 games, it looks Lambert is just being stubborn here, unless he has other off field reasons, which to be fair, we`d not know about. And did he really need to be humiliated and alienated from the rest of the squad? Do managers have to be so petty?

But the main key in clearing out the dead wood is making sure they are replaced. If not……. well, we are already in a relegation fight… again.

The report also interestingly says The Scot`s determination to build for the future is brave but flawed and a failure to bring in experienced leaders next month will be gambling with Villa`s Premier League life.

I`ll give that an amen. I`m truly shocked at the rank incompetence of setting up a squad like this. Not just me, Martin Laursen has said several times how much he relied on experience when he was young to help him. Dwight Yorke, Dion Dublin, Big Ron, Gareth Southgate, Andy Townsend… etc etc have all had their say about it as well and all agree, we are very poor and SHOULD NOT be dicing like this.

John Percy adds Lerner and Lambert had talks on Friday and again on Sunday and the pair must establish a strategy to ensure the “we will be fine” mantra does not appear ridiculous in May. Lerner declined another opportunity to speak to the media after this latest defeat but the atmosphere at Villa Park did all the talking for him.

He also correctly asks what the supporters reaction would have been if this season had happened under ‘he who shall not be named` in charge!

Basically, this January is crucial to Aston Villa and our season. Not just this season either. Going down is almost too bad to think about with the massive money Prem League deal kicking in next season. It would set us further back. But you knew that already.

Frankly I`ve never started a season with so little hope, if a tit like me can see we didn`t have a suitable squad and didn`t have nearly enough experience to help the ‘kids` then how can`t a Premiership manager not see it? Not as if the football luminaries as above plus the pundits haven`t noticed either. It is all well and good saying in a repeated mantra ‘in Lambert we trust` but it is the league table we have to trust in really and our position isn`t good enough. We aren`t a Norwich City type, we are Aston Villa. Regular top six, proud history and yet many seem happy and say they can see the improvement. The only real improvement is that the man in charge isn`t ‘he who shall not be named`.

Can you not see what damage to the confidence of young players this is doing? Have you stopped for a single moment to consider how humiliated and down these players must feel? How is that progress? How will that help them? They`ve been thrown in at the deep end and told to sink or swim. Sorry, some of these players can`t even swim and never will if we are talking challenging for the top 4-6. And they have no ‘instructors` (ie experience) to learn off. How is that progress? How the HELL is that progress? I feel for them, apart from the Chelsea game you can`t say they`ve not put in the effort, but effort alone is not good enough in this big boys league, it is also about quality and ability.

And don`t come out with the ‘we`ve only lost 3 and everyone is panicking` It isn`t just three games, I`m actually fairly relaxed because it is nothing that I didn`t expect. But the worst league start, think at one point it was ever, last time I read it was the worst start in 40 odd years! So this is not knee jerk, it is an end of year observation.

NO, I am not saying Lambert out, but I am saying he needs to wake up very quickly. To bring through a few of our youth prospects at a time is great, that is what we would all like to see surely, but to end up with a squad of young inexperienced (in the Prem) players, average age around 23 and players from lower leagues just isn`t the way. With Norwich he was able to build the momentum as he went through the divisions. It is ridiculous the way he thought he could do it all in one go at Villa. This isn`t some tin pot club, this is VILLA for the love of God, they all need to wake up to this. The reaction to the Wigan loss illustrated just how tested and frustrated the Villa fans are right now.

And I will point out before some come on and flame away, as said, this isn`t knee jerk for me, I said all this in the summer in the forum and got a beautifully rough reception, being called miserable etc. It wasn`t miserable then, it isn`t miserable now, it is just fact. The league doesn`t lie, we have the worst goal difference of any team and we are one place above the relegation zone. If you consider that good enough, I`m happy for you. I consider it an insult to the club I love. If Randy or Lambert consider this current season good enough for this club, then I`d suggest they also think long and hard if this is the right club for them. Lambert talks about the bigger picture, lovely, what about the here and now? The Clubs direction is a massive worry, I hope they can correct it and that Lambert goes on to be everything we ever dreamed of in a manager. At the moment for me, he gets a D and a ‘must do better`. I hope and pray he can do. Maybe with a few good buys he can salvage the season and we can relax a bit. In the meantime, sorry, not acceptable in any way shape or form. He does have a job and a half on his hands, but he`s not started that well and some of the problems are made by him.

And please, many Villa fans these days seem to equate quality with rubbish because that is what a lot of our ‘experienced` players have been for us. I`d point to some of the beautiful players we`ve had over the years not the tripe certain managers targeted at high wages and then didn`t play them or played them out of position. What I`d do for Barry and Milner in midfield right now for example.

January is a fascinating month, fascinating to see if they can bring in any useful, experienced, quality players and also fascinating because we face Swansea, Southampton, West Brom and Newcastle. All four, just a few seasons back, we`d have expected to beat. Now all four of those clubs will smell blood.

In three teams being worse than Villa we trust.

Happy New Year to you all, keep everything crossed!