Savvy talks to Vital Villa and hears their views on Hughton, Holt and of course Paul Lambert…
1) A lot of Norwich fans were disappointed with Villa supporters for chanting ‘one Paul Lambert’ last season, when he was our manager. In hindsight do you think this was the right thing to do? Imagine this when MoN was at his peak, for example.
I’m not sure I need hindsight to answer whether it was a good thing to do or not, all I can say is it was borne out of the frustration fans were feeling at the time with the former manager and his style of football, and it was also a message to our owner following the appointment. Norwich were a breath of fresh air, and emotions overspilled.
2) What`s your view of whether Lambert morally has the right to pursue litigation against Norwich City, given that he`s possibly receiving support on the issue from Aston Villa?
I’m not sure we’re actually backing him, it’s a personal issue, Lambert had remained very tight lipped about his issues with Norwich until your chairman blabbed to the press and it’s not an issue for the club anyway. It depends on what promises were broken, ultimately, from the little I know. But if there was a supposed ‘talk’ clause and Norwich went back on that, I see no reason why Lambert shouldn’t be allowed to resign his position. Going off our previous conduct I’d imagine the club would’ve been pretty sure on our position on compensation before making the move
3) You’ve had a disappointing start under Lambert, and you’re not playing in front of a full stadium each week. What’s his relationship like with the fans? When you were 3-0 down vs Everton for example, was there much negativity?
Fine really. We all know the task he has on his hands and whilst there are some grumbles about selections and substitutions, most fans knew this season would be difficult anyway, but the majority are seeing signs of improvement so we’ve got to give him time to drill the players properly, and give them time to adjust to the league and gel together. A few fans are more vocal than others, but I think the majority know we can’t really judge anything until the New Year because of how much has changed at the club.
4) Do you think Lambert is picking the best team at the moment or is there a clamour for other players to be on the team sheet?
Quite a few are perplexed with the continual involvement of N’Zogbia and the lack of more time for Bannan, but that differs based on the individual really and their own preferred selection. Benteke has been thrown in at the deepend really, and Weimann should’ve had more time…but I’m not sure you’d ever find a fanbase 100% happy with a team selection.
5) Lambert is renowned in these parts for playing bold, attacking football – why has he not been able to do this at Villa yet (save for the Man C game)?
More often than not we are, but as he changes the midfield it changes us from the balance that sees some of our better performances, into a less creative outfit, albeit stronger in defence.
Everton and Southampton were the truly dire performances, but in all the other games we’ve been unlucky really not to walk away with a point or a justified win.
Man City was definitely the all out highlight though, the lack of pressure and expectation from that game probably helped immensley. The secret now though is take that performance as a benchmark for all the other games, and if we can do that consistently we should end the season more comfortably than we are at the moment.
6) Were you happy with the summer signings or were you expecting more money to be spent?
Very happy, the only complaint really is we could’ve done with one or two experienced players just to help the youngsters and the newbies more. The ethos or plan to pick up quality from abroad, as well as talent from the leagues below is to be applauded and it’s something we should’ve already been doing, as well as really promoting our own youth through to the first team. I would think Lambert had others planned but for whatever reason they didn’t come off, so I’d be surprised if we aren’t busy in the January window.
7) What are the main weaknesses in the team?
Depending on the line-up, as above, we can set out to be a bit too defensive in midfield because of how some players naturally approach a game, other than that our main problem would be going too creative in midfield and we have little strength defensively with only one player holding.
Our other issues are just the team gelling really, once they click we aren’t going to shoot up the table, but we should be comfortable.
8) Out of the new signings, who is the one who has impressed you the most?
Has to be Brett Holman for me at the minute, some of the others should prove to be quality as they adjust, but this bloke’s engine and determination is unbelievable. In many ways Holman is the one thing our previous manager got right during his time at the club.
9) What’s your opinion on the appointment of Chris Hughton?
I was amazed when Newcastle kicked him to be fair, and he’s too good for a club like Birmingham 🙂 so I think he’ll do a very good job for you, and help build on the work that Lambert created.
10) Do you think we’ll stay up this year?
I’d be surprised to see you drop to be honest. Hughton I think will build on Lambert’s base given time, and like us to be honest, it might not be a comfortable survival this season, but I think it’ll be survival nonetheless.
11) Who do you most fear in the City line up?
Grant Holt for me. Knows where the net is and is a big handful up top, especially given the youthful elements in our defence.
12) How will you line up on Saturday (formation/line up)?
I’d expect as things stand:
Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Bennett,
El-Ahmadi, Holman, Ireland, Delph,
13) Are you expecting that the Norwich fans will give Lambert a hostile reception or treat him as a hero for getting us in the Prem?
I actually think he’ll get quite a warm welcome, but I wouldn’t go as far as a hero’s welcome, bit too soon for all the anger to have subsided I would think.
14) As this is your worst start to a season since 1986, has your opinion of McLeish changed?
Nope. Not really much else I can add to that!
And here’s us answering questions from Vital Villa… http://www.astonvilla.vitalfootball.co.uk/article.asp?a=7513734