Revealed: The full transcript of how Paul Lambert explains his treatment of Villa's 24million misfit striker Darren Bent
13:49 GMT, 28 November 2012
With Aston Villa being the joint lowest goalscorers in the Premier League after the weekend's action, Tuesday night's home fixture against Reading afforded manager Paul Lambert the chance to improve that statistic.
Christian Benteke's late winner afforded the Scot welcome cheer as Villa collected their second home triumph of the season as they jumped out of the relegation zone following a 1-0 win.
Scroll down for the full transcript from last night's interview with Paul Lambert
Out of favour: Darren Bent has lost his place in the Villa side
Hot shot: 24m Bent has scored 22 goals in 47 appearances
But there was, once more, no place in the starting XI for Darren Bent. The England striker has scored over 100 goals in the Premier League, yet summer signing Jordan Bowery was given the nod ahead of the club's 24m record signing. Bent spent his evening watching from an executive box.
Despite several attempts by the assembled broadcast and print media to establish a reason for this, it seems no-one is the wiser.
The facts are that Lambert said he would get Bent firing once more upon his arrival at the club. Since then, he has been made captain. Following an ankle injury, he has been relegated to the bench and now is unable to feature at all. Of course, Paul Lambert can point to the scoreline as justification for his actions. That is his absolute right as manager of Aston Villa Football Club.
Just for the record, however, for all those Villa fans scratching their heads at Bent's exclusion, we are reproducing last night's post-match press conference verbatim – to prove to those who remain puzzled by the whole situation the questions have been asked.
Under pressure: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert
Suited and booted: Bent watches the action from an executive box on Tuesday night
Lambert on Bent… the press conference transcript in full
Press: While Benteke had a big game tonight people will wonder why Darren Bent wasn't in the squad tonight.
Paul Lambert: He was in the squad.
Press: But not on the bench, even.
Paul Lambert: It was the same on Saturday. I just picked the same group
that deserves the chance to keep going. I always do what I think is
right for the football club.
Press: You do realise that with ten minutes to go with the game
goalless, you have a 24m signing sitting in the stands. With respect to
Jordan Bowery, are you more likely to get a goal from him or Darren
Paul Lambert: But you can't talk about ifs, buts or maybes. The reality
is that we won. That's the game. I'll always make that decision. I'll
make an honest judgement who plays.
Press: That's accepted, it's your head on the chopping block if you
don't win. But just for the record, what's the problem with Bent
Paul Lambert: There's no point me saying it again, is there (Laughs)
Press: It was a big game tonight and we wondered why you wouldn't at
least have the safety net of a proven Premier League goalscorer on the
bench. What is the problem
Paul Lambert: Absolutely none.
Press: So you just don't fancy him as a player
Paul Lambert: I do. But I've told you before that I'll pick a game to
win. I have 25 guys to look after and the most important thing is this
club. I'll make decisions and I'll live or die by them. That's the
nature of the beast.
Press: How did he take it when you announced who was playing
Paul Lambert: I just read the team out. The lads who were going to take
the field of play and those on the bench, you have to get them focused
on the game. All I try to do is pick a team to win a game.
Press: There were reports he stomped off Are they right
Paul Lambert: No, honestly, I would tell you. (Laughter from the floor) (And then from Lambert)
Press: How is his attitude Is that a problem
Paul Lambert: Fine. I'll do what's best for Aston Villa.
Press: So what does he have to do to get back in, Paul
Paul Lambert: Any player that I have, you work hard, you stay in the side. You play on merit.
Press: So, he's just not working hard enough, then
Paul Lambert: I never said that, you did. I never said that. If people
aren't working hard enough, I need to pick people who will affect the
Press: Will he be sold in January He clearly doesn't fit the bill for you…
Paul Lambert: Honestly, my main concern is winning games for this football club. Crowd are brilliant, right behind you.
Press: Can we clarify that you have no problem with his application
Paul Lambert: No, none.
Press: Will he get a chance before January
Paul Lambert: Everyone will get the same chance. I see them train every
day, at work every day. Then you try and pick a team that will win.
Press: You've been proved right, haven't you Benteke scored and Villa won…
Paul Lambert: That's the game, you live and die by your decisions to do your best for the club.
Press: Is he down at all, Paul
Paul Lambert: Who
Press: Your club record signing.
Press: You said he knows what he needs to do to get back in, has there been any kind of conversation between the pair of you
Paul Lambert: I've said I don't have any problem.
Press: There were reports he left the stadium after the team was announced…
Paul Lambert: I don't know anything about that. I haven't heard that, no.
Press: Can you see him playing again here
Paul Lambert: You never know. I'll keep saying it: I'll play a team and
squad to win. The game's about winning. I've got 26 guys, some are
injured. It's a team game. You need everyone to pull the same way and
that's what we will create here.
Press: If a player was to take the hump and leave the stadium following
the announcement of the team, would it be club policy to discipline him
(Interjection from Press officer, “It didn't happen.”)
Press: Can you understand why we ask these questions, he's a man you made club captain…
Paul Lambert: Yes, I understand the questions. I get them every Friday.
It's the same answers. It's boring for you. I don't know what else you
can write about it.
Press: To put it into perspective, this was a big game tonight. I know
you've said you don't look at the table but 28,000 people here tonight
were looking at it. We were looking at it, our offices in London are
looking at it. We are wondering why, a man the club signed two years
ago, to provide goals doesn't get a run under you, given the fact that
when you came in, you showered him with praise, then you made him
captain. Now, not only can he not get into the side, he can't get on the
bench I know you have 20-odd professionals to look after, but the
question remains when you are struggling for goals, what's going on
Paul Lambert: I know you have your jobs to do, I'll give you the same answer.
Press: But the fans want to know and we are conduits to them.
Paul Lambert: I'm trying to give you an honest answer. If I was going to
lie to you, honestly, I would. It's my decision. Is that all right
Press: Can we put it another way Villa haven't scored a lot of goals.
We are wondering why someone who throughout his career has scored a lot
of goals we are trying to understand the thought process you are going
through to make that. What is it, so we can understand it
Paul Lambert: I think the decision is one I will make. You can't please
people all the time. Stephen Ireland and Charles N'Zogbia might not be
happy. Shay Given, for instance. It's not easy. I'll say it again. I've
got other lads to look after. I've never had one problem with any of
So there you have it.
Are you any the wiser
No, nor us.