Kentish is rather excited today.
I am feeling ambivalent about the appointment of Lambert: delighted to have such a talented manager but also wary of his record of walking out on a club after 3 years. It’s not unusual – Steve Bruce has made it a lifestyle choice to walk out on a club and we all know Martin O’Neill never stays at a club beyond 4 years. (Quite why Villa fans were surprised when O’Neill left, I am not sure).
So let’s assume we have 3, possibly 4 years before Lambert leaves to join a “bigger club”. As a result, there should be no surprise at all when he leaves – accept this now and no one will be upset – a lesson for Norwich fans who might be bleating about treachery.
Nevertheless, that ambivalence needs to be countered with the expectation that Lambert is the right man for the job.
The appointment is exactly what I hoped for and precisely what I expected: Lerner has learned from the past 2 poor appointments and consequently, sought a manager with proven success and a good tactical record. Lambert is also a manager who appeals to the fans (not that appeasing fans should ever feature highly as a priority. Football fans, as a rule, know bugger all about tactics “get it on the floor!” and football management “spend more money on players”.) It is a clear sign from Lerner that he wants the best for Aston Villa. Within certain constraints obviously! Hopefully, this will prove to be the necessary boost for season ticket sales.
There seems to be a general trend towards wanting a big clear out of the squad. I hope and expect Lambert will ignore this to an extent. We have a relatively good squad. The problem is that many of the players have underachieved. For this, Houllier and McCleish must share some of the blame for failing to get the best out of the squad. There is a real opportunity for the players to prove themselves and a real opportunity for the squad to prove effective and resilient.
It seems Lambert will be given money to invest, not as much as some fans want (infinite transfer funds) but slightly more than perhaps was expected. £20 million has been quoted but I don’t anticipate that any sales revenue will be redirected to the manager to spend. Just the one signing of a player might cost the club £2 million and more in wages, plus additional costs in agent’s fees, signing on fees, appearance and bonus money: Hoiliet from Blackburn on a free might actually cost us £5 million.
I think it is very likely that Holt will be signed. Even at his age, it will be a useful signing. I would expect that Lambert will prove to be shrewd in the market, signing players that are not necessarily well-known but players with ambition and drive and the skillset to fit into Lambert’s style of football. I think we can rule out big-name signings and that shouldn’t disappoint anyone. Lambert wants winners, not self-interested egotistical maniacs. We need to remember that Lambert was allegedly provided with £40-50 million when Norwich were promoted – he choose to only spend a quarter of that.
I wouldn’t be that bothered if we started the season with only one or two additions to the squad because I believe that the manager is good enough and the squad is good enough to drift into the top ten straight away. The question is: would fans accept “just” a top ten finish? After last season, the answer must be “yes”. I am looking for season 2 for Lambert to deliver something special. It might not be Champions League football (is that what we are looking for?) but I expect Lambert to emulate O’Neill and return some silverware to the club.
This is a good move.
And genuinely exciting.