The Doc's spectre looms large over Lambert as Villa stumble to worst start since 1970
22:30 GMT, 28 October 2012
First, the good news for Aston Villa’s supporters.
Following the club’s worst start to a league campaign in 43 years, they cannot be relegated to the third tier of English football, a fate suffered by Tommy Docherty and Vic Crowe’s crop in 1970.
Christian Benteke shows promise. Ron Vlaar is a resolute addition to the ranks. And Matthew Lowton efficiently goes about his business.
And here is the bad.
Home keeper Brad Guzan was rightly named man of the match by Villa’s matchday sponsors. That should be an adequate pointer.
Man of the match: Brad Guzan makes a save from Wes Hoolahan
The long walk: Tommy Docherty after quitting Villa in 1970
Norwich boss Chris Hughton ditched his normal conservative press conference style to claim without hesitation that the Canaries had dropped two points. He was right, too.
Out of their nine matches so far, Villa have played just one team who finished in the top four last season — Tottenham — and have fixtures to come in the next four weeks that include Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal.
What’s more, against those teams last term they picked up not one solitary point.
Manager Paul Lambert appears to have over-estimated the quality of Villa’s playing staff. His brave policy of buying largely untried Premier League players appears flawed. Frankly, their midfield is the weakest in the division.
Tough times: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has the weight of the world on his shoulders as Villa struggled against former club Norwich
What’s more, the Scot is struggling to come up with any plausible way forward, apart from blind faith.
What is becoming clearer by the day is that a promising win over Swansea City was a false dawn and the sooner the whole club appreciates the gravity of this situation, the better.
The whole club — from the boardroom to the terraces — wants Lambert to succeed. But something needs to change. Villa are a quarter of the way through the season and boast six points.
Norwich, on the other hand, appear a far more organised outfit than the one who were spectacularly demolished by Liverpool last month.
Sebastien Bassong is a defender of Premier League class whom Hughton will need to keep on the pitch.Having seen the new Carrow Road chief organise a Birmingham City team that threatened to implode, he is whipping the Canaries into shape.
This is obviously where his reputation as a coach of substance comes from.
As for Villa, I’ll leave you with a little teaser. Who said the following
‘The new players have not performed as well as I anticipated,’ said this Scottish boss, ‘but I have complete faith and confidence in all of my players and in my own ability.’
Tommy Docherty. Twenty-four hours later, he was sacked. Four months after that, Villa were relegated.