Chants of: “You’re getting sacked in the morning” always rouse interest with us for obvious reasons. The man in the firing line this week has been Paul Lambert; his Aston Villa side have crashed out of both domestic cups against lower league opposition. Results have been hard to come by in the Premier League for Villa too, currently sat in nineteenth, they haven’t won since they beat Liverpool 3-1 at Anfield in the middle of December. After Lambert’s side loss to Southampton earlier this month Aston Villa Chairman, Randy Lerner, announced that Lambert's job was safe. A fortnight later with a string of bad results it surely can’t be certain that Lerner’s sentiments remain.
Expectations for Villa at the start of the season weren't particularly high, they were tipped by Robbie Savage as a dead cert to go down. Paul Lambert inherited an inexperienced squad and a club on the slide since Martin O’Neill’s departure in 2010. In 1995 Alan Hansen said “you can’t win anything with kids” about Manchester United; that season Hansen couldn't have been more wrong as Fergie's fledglings romped to the title, however the famous quote definitely rings true when it comes to Aston Villa this season. Expectations plummeted when Villa were relatively quiet in the summer window although Lambert's signings cannot be criticised, new captain Ron Vlaar and young goal scorer Christian Benteke have been stand-out performers.
The recent run of form has been spectacularly bad; highlights in the league include losing three games in a row, conceding fifteen goals in the process. While their goal difference has taken a battering in the league as they drop ever-closer to the relegation zone, they have also exited both cup competitions with egg on their face. Losing the League cup semi final to Bradford is obviously the pinnacle, especially after the club advertised their half season ticket with a “guaranteed League Cup Final ticket”. The team look spineless and the only man defiant against the rot, in his words at least, is Paul Lambert himself who continually vows to fight and battle for his teams safety.
Lambert reportedly has twenty-five million pounds to spend in the January transfer window to bolster his young squad. However, no purchases have been made thus far and time is rapidly running out. Villa will be looking for a depth of players with Premier League experience, something that isn't available at a cut price. The longer that time ticks on the more desperate Villa will be to bring in players.
Undoubtedly Villa have had bad luck, key players like Richard Dunne have been out for what seems to be an age with injury. Looking further back, getting twenty-six million and Steven Ireland for James Milner was a great deal, but then when you think about the turn Steven Ireland’s career has taken you might change your opinion.
Paul Lambert has a mammoth task ahead of him, both on and off the pitch. He desperately needs to bring in some fresh faces, or in this case not so fresh. Experienced heads are key in a relegation fight and there just isn't enough at Villa at the moment. His players lack confidence, against Bradford they simply lacked ideas and looked one dimensional as they continually clipped the ball into the box from deep only for their efforts to be rebuffed by Bradford’s defence time and again. For now Lambert's job is hanging in the balance, for a club that has never been relegated from the Premier League this Villa side look far too close for comfort.