Welcome To…Aston Villa
Years ago my Uncle Jeff bought a house in Lloret De Mar. For a while he loved going out there, he even called the place Jeff Towers – Torres de Jeff, cracking, we were dead jealous. Over time though, well, Lloret is not as popular as it used to be and Jeff has got a little bored with the lack of sparkle.
His old furniture is well past its best and some of the new stuff he bought just isn’t up to the standard required. He’s looking at selling the place now but with the economic gloom, he can’t find a buyer for anything like what he wants, probably not even for what he paid for it, if he can sell it at all. It is rubbish now really, a decaying liability with no investment potential or customer base.
His American mate Randy is in the same boat. His place is in Birmingham and it’s called Aston Villa.
Who Manages Them: Paul Lambert took over from fellow Scot Alex McLeish in the summer and the 42-year-old is probably already aware of the task he faces to have a successful season at Villa. He’s already written to supporters asking for help to turn around the club’s poor home form by making more noise, but the boos his team got after walking off Villa Park after being trounced by Everton last week probably wasn’t what he meant. He was better off writing to Norwich asking for his old job back.
Lambert has had a glittering career so far. As a 17-year-old he won the Scottish Cup with St Mirren, the last time the Scottish Cup was won by a team made up of entirely Scottish players and after a 1993 transfer to Motherwell, Lambert helped ‘Well qualify for Europe. It was in the UEFA Cup during a two legged defeat by Borussia Dortmund that Lambert’s career gathered pace, legendary Dortmund manager Ottmar Hitzfeld being so impressed that Lambert was on his way to Germany in the summer of 1996.
A year later he was on his way back, to Celtic for £2 million with a UEFA Champions League medal in his pocket and the plaudits of beaten semi finalist Roy Keane and losing finalist Zenedine Zidane in his locker, the first UK born player ever to win a European Cup medal with a non-UK team. At Celtic, he won four Scottish Premier League titles, two Scottish Cups, two Scottish League Cups and was Scottish Football Writer’s Player of the Year in 2002. Lambert also captained the side that reached the 2003 UEFA Cup Final in Seville against Jose’s Porto losing 3-2. After studying for football coaching qualifications in 2005, the Scot landed his first managerial job with Livingston but it ended the following February when he resigned after only winning two league games since starting the job. Two seasons at Wycombe were a little better but it was at Colchester where he got his managerial break. In August 2009, Colchester thrashed rivals Norwich 7-1 and a week later Lambert was managing the Canaries. Back to back promotions saw them return to the Premier League and an impressive first season with survival comfortably achieved saw Lambert rewarded with the Villa job.
He seems to be a very bright and intelligent manager who could be destined for great things. He has taken on his European experiences and used that knowledge to great effect, learning from some quality managers along the way. When Villa sacked Alex Mcleish in the summer they probably couldn’t have employed a better Manager given their recent history and Lambert definitely has the quality to go to the top of the management tree. If Villa back him with money and if they hold their nerve during what is likely to be a difficult first year or two, they could reap the rewards. Or he could get a better job.
(***Despite very few tickets left for Villa at the ticket office, thanks to VIAGOGO you can still buy some of the best tickets in the house if you’re quick. VIAGOGO allow season ticket holders to put up tickets for sale that they cannot use and other fans can then buy them, click here for more details. Similarly if you’ve just found out you can’t use your season ticket on Sunday, go to VIAGOGO and get it sold! Remember you can also plan well ahead for future home matches whether you need to sell your season ticket for an individual match, or buy some of the best tickets in the ground)
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