Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert hasn’t enjoyed the best of stays as manager of Aston Villa. Since taking over from Alex McLeish in June 2012, he has been unable to help Villa find the consistency needed to be challenging for at least a top half finish.
He has had money to spend, but not as much as the majority of clubs in the Premier League. The £7million signing of Christian Benteke from Genk in August 2012 was the most he has spent on one player. But Lambert still has quality in his team and has had two and a half years to build a young squad.
However, a win percentage of just under 30 and two 15th place finishes suggests his tenure has been anything but successful. This season hasn’t gone to plan either, with the club in 15th position once more, looking desperately over their shoulder at the relegation zone, just three points behind them.
No win in seven Premier League matches has Villa on a downward spiral, which is huge cause for concern among the faithful at Villa Park. The most worrying statistic is that Villa haven’t scored in five league matches – the last time they found the net was over a month ago against Man United – and they have only managed a pathetic 11 goals in 22 Premier League encounters. Lambert has proven time and again that he is out of his depth managing in the Premier League, which begs the question; is now the right time for change?
It is obvious to point out that scoring goals has been Villa’s biggest weakness this season. Andreas Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor are the joint top scorers for the Villians with just three league goals each. Christian Benteke has been the club’s top goalscorer for the past two seasons, but only has two goals in 13 Premier League appearances this time around.
The 24-year-old Belgium international hasn’t looked his clinical self this season, missing many chances that he would have buried in previous campaigns. His lack of goals has hurt Villa massively, after scoring an impressive 29 in 60 before this season started. His 19 goals in his first season brought about interest from a lot of clubs and speculation has continued right up until now, which has perhaps turned his head slightly. It’s not just the strikers that are to blame, with a lack of creativity in midfield another of Aston Villa’s biggest problems.
However, the recent signing of Carles Gil from Valencia for £3.2m could rectify these issues. The Spanish under-21 international is highly rated and impressed during a two-year loan spell at Elche. He had just started to break into the Valencia side for the first time this season but still played something of a fringe role. Gil scored his one and only La Liga goal last September, but a move to Villa could bring about a change of fortune for both parties.
Villa’s rapid decline in recent years is starting to become a worrying trend for the club and its loyal supporters. A club with great history and tradition, including European Cup success in 1982, it’s fair to say the fans certainly deserve better than the poor league standings that have occurred in the past four years or so. 2011 was the last time Villa achieved a top half finish – coming 9th – after several top six finishes in the years before.
But with Paul Lambert in charge, things don’t look to be improving any time soon. They have more chance of suffering a first relegation since 1987 than competing again for a European place unless something quickly is done about it.