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Welcome, Guest
Paul Lambert: A study in impatience
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TOPIC: Paul Lambert: A study in impatience

posted 23-01-2013 02:31
Paul lambert has really fucked it up hasn't he? At norwich he dragged them up two and a half divisions in three seasons. He had transformed norwich from a club on the verge of bankruptcy on the verge of bottom tier of english football, and deposited them in midtable in the premiership. he had been a transformative manager for norwich and could basically do no wrong

Norwich were a mixture of experienced lower level players and some fairly shrewd signings picked up along the way. They had struggled at times in the premiership, but there were three telling factors in their first premiership season.

The first was that they scored a lot of goals. 52 goals is a lot of goals. It was the seventh highest total last season. Only the top six scored more.

The second was that they conceded a hell of a lot. 66 is an awful lot of goals to concede. only the bottom four conceded more.

The third was that they were able to finish midtable by being competitive. they only took two real pastings, a 5-1 and and 6-1, against man city, which accounted for nearly all of their negative goal difference. and a couple of 3-0's. But 28 of their games were either draws or were decided by a single goal either way.

It was very clear that while the first season was an outrageous success, fueled by infectious but essentially uncontrolled performances.

I remember thinking and saying at the time that lambert was a little bit crazy to leave norwich because firstly he had a seriously sweet thing going there. He had the worshipful adoration of the fans of the board. he was familiar with the players at his disposal. He had money to choose to add to his squad, (hughton was given 10 million to tweak the squad, lambert would probably have been given more) and was under no pressure to clear out any squad. If things didn't go particularly well, he'd have another opportunity to fix it the following season.

essentially he had to show that he could retain norwich's attacking impetus, while shaving 20 goals off the goals conceded total, and show that they could add a little more control to their game.

Given the narrow, knife edge nature of so many of their games, he needed to show that he could keep winning the narrow matches, while gouging out extra points by shaving off the extra goals conceded.

and ultimately there was going to be no better place for him to do this than norwich.

Instead he went to villa where he was given more money to spend, under tighter restrictions while also told to cut the wagebill. He didn't have familiarity with the players he had to work with, or any sort or relationship with them. He didn't really have the same sort of experience, running through the team, and quite frankly the villa team he was taking over was a total mess.

and now we're seeing the consequences. you still get some of the exciting norwich flashes, with villa storming into leads, but unlike norwich they don't have the cop on, or the competitive nous to hang onto leads. And that is on the good day when they get leads. Usually they go behind and skip straight to the defeat. the crushing humiliating defeat or the spirit sapping draw from a simple winning position.

was it really necessary to jump at the first half decent job that came his way? did he have to drink from the first poisoned chalice he could find? Should he have stayed somewhere safe, and stable to carry on learning his trade, before moving on and causing what may be ireperable damage to his career?

basically what the fuck did he think he was doing? let someone else take the hit of helping villa bottom out while he honed his craft before jumping into the club that destroys managerial careers. (also see brendan rodgers)
Last Edit: 23-01-2013 02:33:26 by The Awesome Berbaslug!!!.
posted 23-01-2013 03:12
Yeah, Lambert. A class act as a player and one I wish Scottish football would produce more of in terms of intelligence, broad horizons (Dortmund was the making of him) and application. With the obvious exception of Larsson, he is the best Celtic player of the last 20 years.

However his move from Norwich to Villa was classless. He has a conceit of himself as a better coach than he actually is and although talented, he’s no match for the management mincing behemoth that is Aston Villa.

There’s no doubt he has a career path set out and the thought of putting the Brum fallen giants back amongst the big boys was too much of a temptation. If he had done so the really big time would have come next.

I daresay Norwich fans are having the same wry chuckle at the travails of Lambert as Burnley fans did at the expense of Owen Coyle.
Last Edit: 23-01-2013 03:14:42 by Geoffrey de Ste. Croix. Reason: It's Larsson, not Larson. Godammit.
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posted 23-01-2013 09:35
I agree with the vast majority of what Berbaslug and Geoffrey have written. I dare say that supporters of Norwich are enjoying a chuckle this morning – and have done all season in fact – though I’ve noticed the most vitriolic criticism of Lambert and his eye for personal improvement comes from supporters of Colchester Utd. Not the most self aware bunch of people.

I actually put Lambert fairly low on the list of villains. It’s been one slippery slope since the catastrophic appointment of Houllier. Lambert’s appeal to Lerner was purely his ability to keep a team of 2nd – 3rd tier players in the Premier League while paying 2nd – 3rd tier salaries. Hardly a strategy to bet the farm on – Lambert had only achieved it for one season.

Lambert has a choice. If he walked away plenty of people in football would be prepared to give him another chance because they’d say (rightly) that it is impossible for anyone to succeed at the basket case club that is the current Aston Villa. But alternatively if we go down he would need to silence the growing number who feel he is out of his depth and hyped beyond the level of his abilities, a man who has impeccable timing in knowing when to walk out of a club. In short, he’d need to show he was a fighter and was capable of turning things around, be that in the Premier League or more likely, in the Championship.

Either way, the upward trajectory of his career has been abruptly halted and he is the bright young thing no more.
Last Edit: 23-01-2013 09:38:05 by Mr Beast.
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posted 23-01-2013 09:51
The only important thing for me about Lambert's Villa is that they have fewer points than us at the moment. Given the bad run we are on, added to the hiding we took at Anfield, I'm happy just to see a good number of teams below us, whoever manages them.

The thing I think we miss from Lambert is that he liked to mix things up tactically. His gambles didn't come off every time but you could generally appreciate the logic each time he did it - for example, playing a back five at Stamford Bridge, and only losing the game at the death (www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/14600575).

As Berba noted, he also had a good relationship with the players and got some excellent performances out of them. Hughton has this going for him as well I think - we couldn't have gone on that run otherwise. He also comes across as a much cooler, calmer character than Lambert.

I don't know if we've seen him mix things up at Villa tactically like he did with Norwich. Perhaps he doesn't know if his players are capable of adapting to new formations - or he knows that they aren't.

Looking back to City, the flexibility is something we've lost. We play a back four, two sitting and three attacking midfielders and a centre forward. But if every team knows for certain how you're going to play, you need the players on the pitch to be better than the opponents to win - the element of surprise has gone from our play, and since we don't retain possession as well as many others, we end up with poorer results and reliance on set pieces. Basically we need to be doing everything better and faster, like we were before Christmas.
Last Edit: 23-01-2013 09:52:38 by kevchenko.
posted 23-01-2013 10:48
I suppose it boils down to is lambert's tricky second season in the premiership going to combine with villa's own problems going to get them both relegated?

either way OGS must be pretty happy in molde, stroking his second league trophy, and biding his time.
posted 23-01-2013 11:30
It is an interesting mix of huge arrogance, "This was all my doing and luck played entirely no part. If I go somewhere else, obviously the success will automatically follow, because I am a genius" and really fragile self-belief "It is going well here at the moment. But it could all fall apart any second. If I don't move up now, I may never get another chance"

I think an assessment that Lambert had maxed out at Norwich is reasonable, though. Even if he had stayed there, the chances are the lose more of those knofe-edge games and end up slightly lower than the previous season. It is hard to see further progress for them at least in the short-term, which suggests that Lambert was at the peak reputation he could possibly achieved at Norwich when he moved on.
posted 23-01-2013 12:00
I think this season has gone a long way to defining Lambert as a manager: plenty talented, but not a miracle worker.

The only other place he's failed was at Livingston, mainly due to that club's combination of ingrained incompetence and unrealistic expectations - Villa on a microscopic scale, in other words.
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posted 23-01-2013 12:15
Janik wrote:

I think an assessment that Lambert had maxed out at Norwich is reasonable, though. Even if he had stayed there, the chances are the lose more of those knofe-edge games and end up slightly lower than the previous season. It is hard to see further progress for them at least in the short-term, which suggests that Lambert was at the peak reputation he could possibly achieved at Norwich when he moved on.


That's a fair assessment. The question is why Villa? There's moving on to bigger and better things and there's stepping sideways onto a sinking ship.
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posted 23-01-2013 13:19
Much as I wish it wasn't so there is a direct correlation between the wages clubs are prepared to pay and the talent they can attract at those rates.

Obviously, there is nothing guaranteed and certain clubs have outperformed or underperformed against that factor, but a lot of Villa players Lambert has signed on allegedly miniscule wages (for premiership players) don't even have Championship experience and I'm not sure they would cope even in that league. Add that to Villa's own overrated generation of academy graduates and failing old lags and we have a toxic mix.

Lerner is attracted to Lambert because of his supposed ability to provide Sky TV money on the cheap, but in this instance Lambert's transfer strategy has contributed to the existing problems.
Last Edit: 23-01-2013 13:21:31 by Mr Beast.
posted 23-01-2013 13:45
Aston Villa is rapidly becoming the kind of job that can kill a manager's career dead at Grand Prix speed.

It's hard to remember the last time I saw a team so terrified of fucking up that the concession of one single goal can destroy an entire match for them. Someone mentioned Tony Mowbray's Celtic on another thread. Mowbray routinely used to look scared to death before big games, to the point where you became worried for his physical health. Lambert isn't at that stage yet but he's not far off -- finishing a game with four strikers is a real sign of incipient panic starting to take root.
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posted 23-01-2013 15:13
Villa have had plenty of ups-and-downs in the Premier League, but that was against a background where credit crunches and fiscal economy decay wasn't then a potent mix, so they could spend quite a bit of money and not really worry about any consequences. Fast forward and the club aren't really equipped enough to deal with a completely different scenario where they can't shovel relatively large amounts of money to deal with a problem, or chew up and spit out good-to-mediocre managers with little difficulty. Times have changed but Villa haven't.
posted 23-01-2013 17:25
Janik wrote:
It is an interesting mix of huge arrogance, "This was all my doing and luck played entirely no part. If I go somewhere else, obviously the success will automatically follow, because I am a genius" and really fragile self-belief "It is going well here at the moment. But it could all fall apart any second. If I don't move up now, I may never get another chance"


it really is isn't it.

I think an assessment that Lambert had maxed out at Norwich is reasonable, though. Even if he had stayed there, the chances are the lose more of those knofe-edge games and end up slightly lower than the previous season. It is hard to see further progress for them at least in the short-term, which suggests that Lambert was at the peak reputation he could possibly achieved at Norwich when he moved on.


I remember saying at the time that lambert had the perfect opportunity at norwich to stay another two seasons. the second one to iron out all the wrinkles, and even if it didn't go well, he had the total adoration of the fanbase and the gratitude of the board to fall back on. Even if they were relegated they would be debt free, and he would be given a chance to build again.

But if as likely they stabilized, he would be in a very strong financial position to build again, and really demonstrate that he was learning his trade.

two years in the premiership at norwich, and he'd be in a better position say than david moyes after 10 at everton. I think he may have seriously underestimated the importance of the stability and the circumstances he had at norwich. He could keep on learning, without the struggle you get at villa. clubs like norwich are going to be rich if they stay in the premiership this season.

Look at what taking over at swansea has done for michael laudrup this season. Swansea aren't rich, but they're rich enough, and unlike pretty much anywhere he's ever been before, they're stable.

It wouldn't really have done lamberts career any harm to put together a good body of work at norwich. Now he just looks like a fool who can't get his players to defend at the top level.
posted 23-01-2013 17:53
I rarely watch the Prem even highlit nowadays, but with non-League being so frequently called off this month, decided to give Albion- Villa a go.

First half, it was a very untypical local derby. Villa strolled about like Worldbeaters and should have been at least one more goal ahead at the break. Albion looked like a hungover pub team.

Some combination of Clarke's pep talk and Sleeping Brunty's alarm belatedly going off changed the tempo. The great man scored almost immediately and after that Albion should have won it.

Of Villa's newer players, the left-back and that American guy Lychee looked good before fading.
posted 23-01-2013 18:15
I have some sympathy for Lambert. Anyone with aspirations to prove themselves wants to take on a big challenge to show they can do it. There are few bigger jobs out there than the Villa job in that respect - you are having to fix a huge mess from top to bottom.

Unfortunately for him, the answer looks like he isn't up to it. But very few would be.
posted 23-01-2013 18:23
I think it's a bit much to call Lambert an arrogant man on the basis that he left Norwich City for Aston Villa.

If he is arrogant, it's something that must have sprouted rapidly out of his psyche in the last few years, because he never once displayed any arrogance at all during his playing career. Indeed, he was the antithesis of it.

Whatever else he is, too, he's not a fool.
Last Edit: 23-01-2013 18:23:47 by Selected Ambient Works 85-92.
posted 23-01-2013 19:01
caja-dglh wrote:
I have some sympathy for Lambert. Anyone with aspirations to prove themselves wants to take on a big challenge to show they can do it. There are few bigger jobs out there than the Villa job in that respect - you are having to fix a huge mess from top to bottom.

Unfortunately for him, the answer looks like he isn't up to it. But very few would be.


this is fair enough, but I was thinking that taking the time to show that he was able to take norwich up and get them to stick in the premiership for three seasons, while learning the ropes as a premiership manager, and building a strong club on and off the pitch would also have a certain amount of merit.

And it would show that he could do the whole premiership thing without massive resort to the chequebook. He would have shown himself to be a transformative manager and pretty much have had his pick of jobs. instead he's the guy whose teams have let in 110 goals in 61 games league games.
Last Edit: 23-01-2013 19:04:24 by The Awesome Berbaslug!!!.
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posted 23-01-2013 21:01
It's the Peter Principle, isn't it? Your success keeps getting you promoted until you are promoted above your ability.
posted 23-01-2013 22:51
Except Lambert didn't take Villa down into the dead zone. They were already there. He has (so far) proven unable to get them out of it.

Of the current 20 Premier League managers, other than Alex Ferguson and maybe Moyes, how many of them could you confidently predict would be able to march into Villa Park in the morning and hoist their current squad up to mid-table safety within a matter of weeks?

Michael Laudrup is flavour of the month at the moment, but would anyone honestly put money on him suddenly turning Villa into a good side by mid-March? They've got an awful squad and the confidence levels of a whipped hamster.
Last Edit: 23-01-2013 22:53:40 by Selected Ambient Works 85-92.
posted 24-01-2013 00:13
Perhaps the reason Lambert left Norwich for Villa is the most simple one - an increase in his pay.

He's on about £2m a year at Villa. I may be open to correction on this, but I'd imagine its a good deal more than he was earning at Norwich.
posted 24-01-2013 00:52
No idea what year Lambert stopped playing but his arrogance was already present in 2008.
I've seen it all before. I used to play for a club that had more fans than Stockport can get in their ground watching us training.
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