Now Lambert knows how hard it will be to rebuild crumbling Villa
21:40 GMT, 26 August 2012
When was the last time any Aston Villa side produced such an inept first-half display in front of their own supporters
The general consensus was 25 years ago, during Billy McNeill’s ill-fated reign. The optimism that preceded Paul Lambert’s first home match, a 3-1 defeat by Everton, disappeared in the blink of an eye.
Dark clouds blocked out the hope of a new dawn as the parlous state of Aston Villa was laid painfully bare by an Everton team who showed their win over Manchester United last week was no fluke.
Plenty to ponder: Paul Lambert reflects on the home defeat to Everton
The most-played top-flight fixture ended in embarrassment for Villa. It all leaves Lambert in a position where he will sit down with Villa owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner to plot a route forward.
Yet with the transfer window due to close on Friday, the most telling answer from the new manager came with the question: ‘Is there anything in the pipeline’
The reply A worrying ‘No’.
Therefore, not only is Villa’s manager unsure of whether funds will be made available, he also has nothing lined up in terms of an emergency. Clearly, the ‘golden’ generation of youngsters is not ready to perform at this level.
Lambert’s own signings too were unable to stop a rot which now encompasses just one victory in 18 outings.
Asked whether he would be concerned to go through the season with the group who started on Saturday, Villa’s boss said: ‘We need to win games. If we aren’t, it’s a problem. I’ll see the chairman and Paul (Faulkner) and see what happens. I’ve got ideas in my head, what I think but, as I said, I’ll have to speak to them and see.’
And so it falls to Lerner to make yet another hard decision. The owner has spent over 200million in six years chasing his dream. Can he afford to sit by and do nothing
Strong start: In contrast to Aston Villa, Everton have started the season well with two wins
Everton captain Phil Neville, meanwhile, spoke with the air of a man who knows his team can spring a surprise this season.
Neville says there is a settled feeling at Goodison Park.
‘I think you can see there’s all the ingredients for us to have a good season,’ he said.
‘There’s a real tightness about the place. ‘We maybe lack the depth in quality of the top four but that’s about it.’
Everton are often slow starters but a few well-chosen words appear to have sparked a difference.
‘The manager told us that if the league had started in January, we would have finished third. We have taken off from where we left off last season.’