ASTON Villa owner Randy Lerner has reiterated his support for manager Paul Lambert ahead of tonight’s crunch Barclays Premier League clash with fellow strugglers Newcastle.
Lerner appointed Lambert last summer and is convinced the former Norwich boss can steer the midlands club through their current battle to avoid the drop. He also has faith in the Scot to help Villa achieve their longer term goals of stability and being a competitive force.
Lerner said: “In the time that I’ve come to know Paul, what is clear above all else is his strength of character and belief in his approach to football.
“The Villa board knew that with Paul we would begin to address the club’s multi-year lack of competitive stability by reshaping the squad with seven new signings in the summer.
“It has been rewarding at times this season although certainly frustrating as well, particularly recently.”
Lerner added: “During January, Paul and the board have discussed a variety of players [to strengthen the squad] although nothing has yet materialised. I know also this can be frustrating as fresh players always give at least a sense of progress and optimism. Finally, and on a very personal note, I would reiterate that Paul has achieved success at many levels of professional football and I believe, given support, he will continue to do so for us.”
Villa are 17th in the Premier League table with 20 points, one point above the relegation zone and one below Newcastle (16th).
Lambert himself is backing Villa to win their survival battle, despite lacking the funds that tonight’s opponents have to strengthen their squad.
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has given substantial financial backing to manager Alan Pardew during the January transfer window, as the scrap to avoid relegation hots up.
Lambert has only limited funds to add to the Villa squad. However, he will not criticise the policy of Lerner, who has spent in excess of £250 million during his time at the club.
Lambert said: “We need a few in. I’m not going to say ‘we need four or five’ because people will have a perception of what they think. I know in my own head. We are not close to anything like that [what Newcastle have spent]. I’m sure the chairman knows exactly what he is doing.
Lambert knows it is crucial Villa “hold their nerve” for the scrap that lies ahead to retain top-flight status.
He said: “Is the squad good enough to keep Villa up? Yes. Every game we go into I think we will win it.”