About Me

Football purist, realist and general sports fanatic. Interested in all aspects of the game, from all corners of the earth.

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Wrong Man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There is a club out there for every manager. The best of the best carry their success around with them like a watch on their wrist.

Alex Ferguson created unimaginable periods of success at both Manchester United and Aberdeen, Carlo Ancelotti solves footballing equations regardless of the language they’re posed in, Jose Mourinho’s teams may as well enter the Champions League at the semi-final stage.

Others must sail from job to job to find themselves. Diego Simeone was responsible for River Plate’s demotion from the top division in Argentinian football before masterminding the footballing achievement of the decade by almost clinching the double at his beloved Atleti. Brendan Rodgers didn’t see Christmas as Reading manager.

Paul Lambert is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Lambert’s time at Norwich was extremely successful. Not only did he oversee back-to-back promotions, he guided the Canaries to safety in his sole season in the Premiership at Carrow Road.

Comparing the squads and spending power in the division there was a case to be made that Lambert overachieved more than any other manager in the Premier League that season.

The most impressive aspect of his time in charge of Norwich was the tactical nous he displayed in the top tier; often out-thinking managers more experienced (and more renowned) than himself. The side often pressed high disrupting their more talented opponents’ ability to dictate the game in dangerous areas.

Norwich, despite their limited squad, were capable of playing in a number of formations; their primary shape was 4-4-2 (in a diamond) but proved equally adept with a flat midfield four or a 4-2-3-1. Importantly, they were able to alter how they set up during games; often without even making a substitute. This tactical flexibility highlighted Lambert’s ability to coach his players as well as his own ability to intelligently approach games.

After an acrimonious departure that threatened to escalate to a legal dispute, the Scot left a stable club possessing a squad he knew inside-out for Aston Villa in the summer of 2012. Lambert found himself at a bigger club who naturally had more ambitious expectations than those in Norfolk.

Instead, Villa have found it difficult to show their fans even a modicum of progress. There is next to no creativity in the team; the midfield consists of three players incapable of controlling or willfully dominating the game.

Lambert’s side rely on the counter-attack, completely ignorant to the fact that relying on Gabby Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann for consistency is probably not the most logical idea in the world.

Last night, willed on by fans who sniggered his direction just months ago, Fernando Torres netted a brace at the Bernabeu to send Atletico through to the next round of the Copa Del Rey. The night before we smiled when David Moyes accepted Cheese Puffs from a fan after being sent to the stands in the Basque country. While this has nothing to do with football we saw his contentment with life and that’s human; we lost sight of ‘Moyes the man’ and saw him as ‘Moyes the tarnished soul’ after his experience in Manchester.

Even the heartless love a redemption story. The most glaring sign of stagnation this year in the Midlands wears the number eight in Claret and Blue on the weekends.  After years of ridicule even a couple of decent performances would see a spate of atonement pieces on Tom Cleverley; yet he still can’t trigger any degree of decency from neutrals this season.

After beginning the season promisingly it all reverted to type for the Villains. The cancellation of their goal of the month competition in October may have been because they only played three games that month, but it seemed apt; in total they’ve scored 11 goals so far this season, 7 behind second-worst Sunderland. Villa fans can only hope new signing Carles Gil aids them as they struggle forward.

So far the only player Lambert has brought in who has attracted significant interest from elsewhere is Christian Benteke. In part, the manager is unfortunate to have come in under Randy Lerner post-Martin O’Neill; the Northern Irishman had the club on the brink of financial ruin (and had the gall to walk away when Lerner warned of the need to balance the books), with wages accounting for 88% of the club’s total revenue.

You could admire Lambert for his decision to join the club in the first place. It’s unlikely however, potential suitors will see it that way in the future. This wasn’t the job for him. He walked away on that.

No comments:

Post a Comment