By Rob Milne
From the very beginning of Aston Villa’s search for a new manager, since the sacking of Alex McLeish the day after the end of the season, Paul Lambert had been a name right at the forefront of discussion. Perhaps at times his name was overshadowed by others such as, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Roberto Martinez, yet in many fans eyes Lambert was always the best option available to the Villa board. This appointment signals a new beginning at Aston Villa and unlike some past appointments there is very little doubt among fans that Lambert is the right man for the job.
Excitement may have rose to astronomical levels when the name of ex-Manchester United ‘hero’ Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was rising to the forefront of managerial options, yet in retrospect would appointing Solskjaer have been the right idea for Aston Villa? Well on one hand he is an unknown quantity who very much so could have shocked or surprised teams with his style of play across the premier league. Yet although this surely must be a reason against his appointment, he had not proved himself at the top level of the game and in many ways could have fell flat on his face. Also to add to that it was likely that Villa would have just been grooming him to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Man U in the near future. Lambert has all the experience and track record that a premier league manager needs, especially one of a ‘big club’ such as Aston Villa. This is clear through what he achieved with Norwich City last year, they performed outstandingly for a team who had just been promoted and had a relatively weak squad. That has always been a problem at Villa, making poor players play well, perhaps if Alex McLeish had been able to motivate his players Villa would have made top half and not just scraped past relegation.
Up to this point Lambert’s managerial record is flawless with the successive promotions and strong first premier league season surely he will be the perfect appointment for Aston Villa. As long as owner Randy Lerner supplies Lambert with the resources to mould Villa into the club he wants it to be Lambert should be set for a long successful stint at Villa Park, perhaps a few years in the future the Villa might return to the ‘elite’ of English football. Expectations should not be too high, fans shouldn’t go expecting a repeat of the 82’ European Cup success and the 81’ league win but at least Villa’s credibility as a club may be recouped after it was in many ways destroyed under the reigns of Houllier and especially McLeish.