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Aston Villa 1 Olympiakos 0 – NextGen match report

Aston Villa 1 Olympiakos 0: Burke fires dominant Villans in to NextGen semi-finals

By
Janine Self

PUBLISHED:

21:56 GMT, 20 March 2013

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UPDATED:

23:41 GMT, 20 March 2013

The present may be somewhat rocky for Aston Villa but the future is looking bright and rosy.

Graham Burke’s first-half goal was enough to see the U19s through to the semi-finals of the NextGen Series at Lake Como over Easter.

But it took a brilliant late save by Brad Watkins from a ridiculously long-range free kick by Leandro Pinto to make sure in a nervy finale.

On target: Graham Burke of Aston Villa (centre) celebrates after firing his side through

On target: Graham Burke of Aston Villa (centre) celebrates after firing his side through

Denied: Jack Grealish has his shot saved by Eleftherids Choutesiotis of Olympiacos

Denied: Jack Grealish has his shot saved by Eleftherids Choutesiotis of Olympiacos

Last year Villa went out at the quarter-final stage and the defeat against Marseille has clearly rankled ever since.

A season on, the side skippered by Sami Carruthers has come on in leaps and bounds. So much so that Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven and Ajax number among the Villa scalps.

Villa owner Randy Lerner is a big believer in the homegrown system so would have been delighted to see a healthy crowd in the upper tier of the North Stand.

Surprisingly there were also a fair few Olympiakos supporters too, who generated plenty of noise on a freezing night. Hardly Greek weather, though.

The visiting players did not give them much to cheer in the first half as Villa pretty much took control from the first moment.

Carruthers, who has already had a fleeting introduction to the first-team squad, was a steady influence while striker Callum Robinson made quite a nuisance of himself.

The Olympiakos fans even booed when he was in possession, a major compliment to any player.

It was Robinson who fired the first shot in anger, a routine effort which still had Eleftherids Choutesiotis scrambling to block.

A couple of minutes later and Villa were in the lead through Burke, who took advantage of a bouncing ball in the area to poke it past the keeper.

That signalled a spell of superiority when Villa could easily have increased their lead and should have. It would have saved a lot of worry later on.

Tussle: Jordan Lyden and Dimitrios Siopis of Olympiacos compete for the ball

Tussle: Jordan Lyden and Dimitrios Siopis of Olympiacos compete for the ball

Carruthers fed Josh Barton, whose shot was batted away by a less than sure-gloved Choutesiotis.

Robinson also had a couple of openings but had his first shot cleared for a corner and the second one, after a wonderful turn, rolled wide of a post.

Whether it was the temperature, the stadium or just nerves, Olympiakos took an age to get into the tie but, once they did, they caused a few scares.

It meant that an under-worked Watkins in the Villa goal suddenly had something to do. He did it well, too, gathering Dimitrios Siopis’s low shot and pushing the same player’s next attempt wide.

That set the scene for the start of the second half. This time it was Klodian Gino who twice held his head in his hands after clipping woodwork and seeing the ball drift just wide.

Midfield battle: Konstantinos Rougkalas fights for the ball with Burke

Midfield battle: Konstantinos Rougkalas fights for the ball with Burke

Just as the one-goal lead was beginning to look somewhat fragile, Villa’s Republic of Ireland U17 player of the year, Grealish showed what a prospect he could be.

One jinking run sliced through the Olympiakos defence and should have been capped with a goal. Sadly for Grealish, he hit the post instead.

Minutes later the previously uncertain Choutesiostis proved that when it comes to reflex saves he is a master. Somehow he kept out Grealish’s close-range header, which meant his team-mates stayed in the hunt.

With a minute to go Pinto from 40 yards out forced Watkins into a flying save and Villa were on the plane to Italy.

Leap: Villa's Callum Robinson is challenged by Leandro Climacci Pinto

Leap: Villa's Callum Robinson is challenged by Leandro Climacci Pinto

QPR join race to sign Joleon Lescott

Redknapp enters race to sign defender Lescott from City with QPR ready to pay 90k wages

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

09:51 GMT, 5 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:42 GMT, 5 January 2013

QPR have joined the race to sign Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott as Harry Redknapp bids to beat the drop.

The west London side are looking to strengthen their defence and Redknapp is keen on England defender Lescott and QPR are understood to be prepared to meet his 90,000-a-week wages.

But he is not the only one as former club Everton and boyhood team Aston Villa are also keen.

One the move: Lescott has struggled to hold down a regular first team place at City this season

One the move: Lescott has struggled to hold down a regular first team place at City this season

If QPR miss out on Lescott then they will turn their attentions to Everton’s Sylvain Distin.

Yesterday, Aston Villa were linked with the defender as owner Randy Lerner is set to back Lambert in the transfer window and an experienced central defender is the top target.

Lescott
was born in the Midlands and grew up supporting Villa before playing
for Wolves, Everton and now City and is available for a move.

Villa bound Joleon Lescott could be set to leave Manchester City

Villa bound Joleon Lescott could be set to leave Manchester City

Villa are just one point above the relegation zone and have conceded 17 goals in their last four games.

The 10million rated defender would
have to take a drop in his wages if he were to join his boyhood club as
Lerner is trying to reduce player salaries, and Villa would face
competition from both Everton and Sunderland who are also interested in
taking the 30-year-old.

Lescott
would also have to negotiate a pay-off from City to leave the club –
just as Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland did.

Aston Villa want 18million for Darren Bent

Yours for 18m: Villa put Bent up for sale but want to recoup what they paid for him

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UPDATED:

22:56 GMT, 5 December 2012

Aston Villa have slapped an 18m price tag on Darren Bent as they seek to recover most of the money they paid Sunderland for the forward’s services.

The decision-makers at the Birmingham club, owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner, have accepted that the striker is out of Paul Lambert’s plans.

To that end, they are willing to listen to offers but have set the price at the original figure they paid to the Black Cats for the forward just two years ago.

Tough time: Darren Bent has not featured in Paul Lambert's plans much this season

Tough time: Darren Bent has not featured in Paul Lambert's plans much this season

Bent has fallen out of favour at Villa Park and has not even made Villa’s matchday squad on occasion during the past few weeks although he was on the bench for the visit to QPR last week.

With Christian Benteke having provided Lambert with a spearhead and Gabby Agbonlahor as a back-up, the striker appears surplus.

However, the club recognise that having such an expensive purchase out of the manager’s plans is financial madness.

Bench boy: Bent was an unused substitute against QPR

Bench boy: Bent was an unused substitute against QPR

But Villa, perhaps mindful of the fact that they are not clear of relegation struggles themselves, have set a high price should anyone require Bent’s services.

That may preclude QPR from entering the marketplace — although whether Harry Redknapp would sign a forward he once ridiculed is a difficult question.

With the price being a stumbling block, it may be that Lambert is persuaded to look at a potential player-plus-cash swap deal as Villa’s best way out of a tricky situation.

Premier League owners hatch plot to stop footballers earning mega money, including Roman Abramovic and Glazer family

EXCLUSIVE: Millionaire owners plot new rule to stop players and agents pocketing profits from 5bn TV deal

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 3 November 2012

Premier League owners, including Roman Abramovich and the Glazer family, are close to agreeing a crackdown on players’ wages.

Talks have already taken place between all 20 top-flight clubs about introducing their own version of financial fairplay and a formal outline could be agreed later this month when Premier League chairmen meet in London on November 15.

There is a growing desire among the Premier League’s international owners to keep a big slice of what could be 5billion from the new television deals that start next year, rather than see it all go to players and their agents.

On board: Big names like Roman Abramovich are close to agreeing a dealOn board: Big names like Roman Abramovich are close to agreeing a deal

On board: Big names like Roman Abramovich are close to agreeing a deal

They are about to agree new rules on ‘wage restraint’, prohibiting clubs from increasing their wage bill by more than five per cent annually. Clubs spent 1.5bn on wages in 2010-11, 69 per cent of their income, and they had debts of 2.4bn, more than the amount they brought in.

Among the more radical proposals is that member clubs should be made to break even, something that even UEFA’s fairplay rules do not insist on. And West Ham chairman David Gold wants a points deduction for those whose debt exceeds a certain level of turnover.

Significantly, there is a will among even the richest owners — Abramovich at Chelsea and Sheik Mansour at Manchester City — to stop making huge losses. And the new breed of American owners — John W Henry (Liverpool), Ellis Short (Sunderland), Stan Kroenke (Arsenal), the Glazers (Manchester United) and Randy Lerner (Aston Villa) — are desperate to see a return on their investment.

Premier League clubs made cumulative losses of 361million, according to figures for 2010-11, with City (197m), Chelsea (68m), and Liverpool (49m), most in the red.

Listening: The Glazer family want a return on their investment

Listening: The Glazer family want a return on their investment

An historic agreement by clubs would mark the end of escalating salaries enjoyed by elite players since the Premier League began in 1992. And that would be welcomed by ordinary fans who feel the gravy train has created a generation of stars who are out of touch.

/11/03/article-0-01C5982600000514-699_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Potential: Manchester city owner Sheikh Mansour (centre) and his fellow owners could be part of a historic deal” class=”blkBorder” />

Potential: Manchester city owner Sheikh Mansour (centre) and his fellow owners could be part of a historic deal

Executives from all top-flight clubs met in September in three regional meetings. But the get-together in 11 days is the first real chance for formal progress.

Fourteen of the 20 clubs have to agree to a new rule and it is believed only Fulham are explicitly against any form of financial fairplay, with chairman Mohamed Fayed worried the restrictions would deter a potential buyer in the future.

UEFA FFP rules allow clubs to make losses of €45m over three years. Many would like it to be compulsory for clubs to break even but a compromise might have to be reached.

Clubs like City, who have invested hugely since a takeover in 2008, would be given time to meet requirements and newly-promoted clubs would also be given dispensation on the five-per-cent wage rule.

With negotiations at a delicate stage, most chairmen are reluctant to go into too much detail, but West Ham’s Gold was candid for the website, Huffington Post.

Regulation: David Gold spoke candidly

Regulation: David Gold spoke candidly

‘We need to regulate spending, reduce debt and ensure profit — and quickly,’ he said. ‘We have to stop clubs running up debt or we’ll have an even more desperate situation. We can’t have clubs running with large percentage of debt against their turnover.

‘The lower leagues have implemented new regulation, and the Premier League must do the same.

‘I would propose that there is a robust and clear debt cap — enforced by a transfer ban on incoming players or a points deduction.

‘Of the bottom 12 clubs in the PL most will lose money and three will be relegated. But with proper governance, those 12 clubs, including the three to be relegated, could make 100m. It’s infinitely more desirable to get relegated having made 10m than having lost 10m.’

Paul Lambert wants more Aston Villa signings

Lambert already seeking new Villa additions despite summer spending spree

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UPDATED:

15:44 GMT, 2 November 2012

Big money move: Benteke cost Aston Villa 7million

Big money move: Benteke cost Aston Villa 7million

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert admits he needs to further bolster the strength of his squad.

Villa brought in nine new signings during the summer at a net outlay of 21.7million – the fifth-highest of any Barclays Premier League club during that transfer window.

It took the transfer outlay of the midlands club to a net 70million during the past five seasons under owner Randy Lerner.

But Villa are still stretched in certain departments and currently have four centre-backs on the injury list in Richard Dunne, Ciaran Clark, Nathan Baker and Chris Herd.

When asked about his transfer plans, Lambert said: 'The squad needs to get bigger as well. That is important as well. That's normal.

'Everyone has to have competition for places. That is vital.

'It is like the centre-halves situation. We lose Ciaran and Nathan and have to put Matt (Lowton) or Chris (Herd) back there.

'It shows you are short in certain areas and you have to improve the squad which we will try and do.'

Show me the money: Lambert wants to bolster his squad in January

Show me the money: Lambert wants to bolster his squad in January

Lambert is convinced Villa are heading in the right direction despite winning only one of their opening nine league matches.

He said: 'This was never going to happen overnight. A lot of people just expected us to come in and see a real change in fortunes.

'There is certainly progress, you can see that, but you want to keep going until you think “we're there”.'

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner sells Cleveland Browns for 620million

Villa owner Lerner given green light for 620m sale of Cleveland Browns

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UPDATED:

21:49 GMT, 16 October 2012

Browned off: Lerner has a deal in place to sell his NFL franchise

Browned off: Lerner has a deal in place to sell his NFL franchise

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner’s sale of the Cleveland Browns NFL
franchise for a reported figure of $1billion (620million) has been formally
approved.

The sale of the team by Lerner to Jimmy Haslam, agreed back in August,
was voted through at a meeting of NFL team owners in Chicago.

'Jimmy Haslam, who agreed to purchase a controlling interest in the
Cleveland Browns in August, was approved by a unanimous vote from the
other clubs at the NFL’s Fall Owners Meetings in Chicago, the NFL
announced Tuesday morning,' said a statement on the Cleveland Browns
website.

Lerner, who completed a takeover of Villa in 2006, inherited control of the Browns in 2002 from his father Al Lerner.

Four years earlier, Al Lerner paid 329m for the
franchise, which joined the league as an expansion team and returned
American football to Cleveland following the departure of the original
Browns to Baltimore after the 1995 season.

Touchdown: Lerner has doubled the investment his father made in 2002

Touchdown: Lerner has doubled the investment his father made in 2002

Touchdown: Lerner has doubled the investment his father made in 2002

Touchdown: Lerner has doubled the investment his father made in 2002

The Lerner years were never greatly successful, however, with the team
enjoying only two winning seasons in 1999 and 2007, reaching the play-offs once, and combining to go 69-146 under the family’s control.

Since Lerner took over at Villa Park, Browns fans became increasingly
frustrated by what they perceived as the owner’s preference for the
Barclays Premier League team at the expense of the Browns.

All smiles: Haslam has purchased the franchise for 620m

All smiles: Haslam has purchased the franchise for 620m

Paul Lambert has a job to rebuild Aston Villa

Now Lambert knows how hard it will be to rebuild crumbling Villa

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UPDATED:

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

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

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.’

Randy Lerner to sell Cleveland Browns stake

Lerner to sell stake in NFL side… but Villa chief tells Lambert not to expect transfer boost

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UPDATED:

13:13 GMT, 28 July 2012


Owner: Lerner is giving up his stake in the Browns

Owner: Lerner is giving up his stake in the Browns

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner is selling a 70 per cent controlling stake in his NFL team Cleveland Browns which is set to make him 600million.

But the American has told Villa boss Paul Lambert not to expect a healthy transfer kitty ahead of his first campaign with the Midlands club.

Lambert has spent only once this summer, with Matthew Lowton arriving on a 3m deal from Sheffield United.

Lerner has been forced to cool spending at Villa Park after running up an 80m wage bill.

The businessman took control of the
Browns when his father Al died in 2002 – the NFL outfit failing to make
the play-offs since then.

Lerner is speaking to Tennessee-based businessman Jimmy Haslam over selling his stake in the Browns.

Pre-season: Aston Villa are touring North America

Pre-season: Aston Villa are touring North America

Darren Bent will stay at Aston Villa but Paul Lambert insists he hasn"t thought about Grant Holt

Lambert teases Villa faithful with shopping list: I want Messi, Xavi, Iniesta… and Bent

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UPDATED:

21:43 GMT, 6 June 2012

Paul Lambert has been assured he will not have to sell 24million striker Darren Bent to fund his revamp at Villa Park.

The new Aston Villa boss, who was officially unveiled as Alex McLeish’s successor, has already drawn up a list of targets, but has been told he will not have to sacrifice Bent.

Villa’s top scorer with nine league goals last season missed the last three months after rupturing ligaments in his left ankle, but stayed behind for two extra weeks after the squad dispersed to work on his fitness.

Park life: Paul Lambert was unveiled as Aston Villa's new boss

Park life: Paul Lambert was unveiled as Aston Villa's new boss

Bent, 28, will also report a week early to make sure he is ready for Villa’s first Premier League game under Lambert.

The Scot said: ‘The chairman (Randy Lerner) and Paul (Faulkner, the chief executive) know the lads I’ve asked to look at and we’ll try, as a football club, to bring those in.

‘I told Paul to go and get Messi. After him we want Xavi and Iniesta. So if those three come I think we’ll do all right. But there’s a list, yes. We’ll see if we can progress that down the road.’

Lambert, 42, said he had spoken to his former Celtic boss Martin O’Neill before accepting the Villa job, having already followed in his footsteps at Wycombe Wanderers and Norwich City.

At ease: Lambert addresses the media at Villa Park

At ease: Lambert addresses the media at Villa Park

He signed a three-year deal after resigning from Norwich and Villa did not have to pay any compensation, but the League Managers’ Association may yet be required to resolve outstanding contractual issues between Lambert and his former club.

The new Villa boss confirmed there is no clause to stop him signing players from Norwich, but said he ‘hasn’t even thought’ about making an approach for striker Grant Holt.

Lambert added: ‘Grant Holt was brilliant for me. I’ve a lot of time for him, but things move on. I had three brilliant years at Norwich. No doubt the fans will say I’m the worst manager in the club’s history now because I’ve left.

Partners: Darren Bent

Hitman: Grant Holt

Strike partners Darren Bent (left) is staying, while Lambert was coy over Holt

‘It’s normal because they’re a bit hurt, but I had my reasons to leave. You can make of that what you want. I was never unhappy with budgets. It was a challenge, which was great.’

Lambert spoke of the need to galvanise the fans at Villa Park. News of his appointment saw 2,000 season tickets sold in a day and the club are on target to sell 21,000 by the start of the campaign.

‘They want to see a winning team,’ said Lambert. ‘If you can do it with style then great, but if you can’t and you win, I’m pretty sure people will still be happy.’

Paul Lambert on way to Aston Villa and Grant Holt will follow

Lambert on his way to Aston Villa and top scorer Holt is set to follow him from Norwich

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UPDATED:

21:40 GMT, 31 May 2012

Paul Lambert has quit Norwich City and is expected to be confirmed as Aston Villa’s new manager in the next 24 hours.

And that may not be the end of the bad news for the Norfolk club as top scorer Grant Holt is expected to follow him to Villa Park later this month.

Lambert will make the striker his No 1 priority when he turns up at Villa Park next week, utilising cash that was ring-fenced by American owner Randy Lerner for squad strengthening this summer.

On his way Paul Lambert leaves Norwich's training ground on Thursday morning

On his way Paul Lambert leaves Norwich's training ground on Thursday morning

Holt shocked Carrow Road by submitting a
transfer request two weeks ago to win himself an improved contract
after slipping down the club’s pay scale.

And the 31-year-old, who scored 17
goals last season, has been earmarked as the perfect foil by Lambert for
England striker Darren Bent as the new manager attempts to meet
Lerner’s brief and breathe fresh life into the club who sacked Alex
McLeish last month.

Trading places: Grant Holt scored against Villa as Norwich won 2-0 on the last day of the season

Trading places: Grant Holt scored against Villa as Norwich won 2-0 on the last day of the season

Villa’s billionaire owner has set
aside some funds, believed to be between 10million and 15m, for team
strengthening, despite a 54m loss in the last financial year.

Lambert’s arrival is now being held up by a compensation figure being agreed for his services.

That will probably comprise a year’s pay on the 1m rolling contract that he had been working under in Norfolk.

The former Champions League winner
tendered his resignation in the wake of interest from the Midlands club
late on Wednesday night after Villa made an official approach to speak
to him.

On the Paul: Aston Villa have made Lambert their No 1 priority

On the Paul: Aston Villa have made Lambert their No 1 priority

That offer was rejected by the
Norwich hierarchy, but a statement released by the club appeared to
accept the manager’s decision to quit as inevitable.

It read: ‘We have worked hard to keep
Paul at Norwich City and will not accept his resignation while
discussions with another club are taking place.

‘Whatever happens, we want to record
our sincere gratitude for everything Paul has done for the club over the
past three fantastic seasons.

‘When Paul joined us in August 2009
we were in 66th position in the football pyramid and the club was on the
verge of financial meltdown. Today we are a Barclays Premier League
club on a sound financial footing and with a stadium full to capacity.

In the running: Neil Lennon (right) is favourite to replace Lambert

In the running: Neil Lennon (right) is favourite to replace Lambert

‘Discussions with Paul have been
friendly and amicable. Paul has earned his place in the club’s history
and, whatever happens, will always have a friendly welcome at Carrow
Road.’

Norwich have placed Celtic manager
Neil Lennon on a shortlist of candidates to replace Lambert. Cardiff
boss Malky Mackay is the early front-runner for the post, with Chris
Hughton and Steve Bruce also in the running.

However, Lennon will be recommended by close friend Lambert and mentor Martin O’Neill.