Lerner likely to stick with Lambert

by faststeady

With the African Cup of Nations fast approaching and domestic soccer leagues running as usual, we’ve unearthed a nice little spot of value for all our readers who like to have a punt on soccer.

Good football managers do not grow on trees and, while Aston Villa is going through the dictionary definition of a rough patch, one should bet on the Birmingham-based team holding on to its talented, under-pressure boss, Paul Lambert.

Paul-Lambert2Bookmakers love their markets on the comings and goings of football managers because they are a publicity machine that keep on producing the goods. We would hate for the world and his wife to discuss our employment situation but we think nothing of talking about the job prospects of people such as Lambert and that is why media organisations report the odds.

BetVictor has an interesting market that enables punters to bet on Lambert’s tenure as Villans boss. Victor Chandler’s firm is offering odds of around 1-3 that Lambert does not pick the Aston Villa side for its final English Premier League match of the season – the Villans are scheduled to play Wigan away on Sunday 19 May 2013 – and odds of around 9-4 that Lambert is in the DW Stadium’s away team dugout.

Let’s start with the case for Aston Villa parting company with Lambert. Aston Villa is bottom of the English Premier League’s six-game form table and only a few weeks ago it suffered the biggest defeat in its 138-year history when Chelsea slammed eight unanswered goals past Bradley Guzan.

Since beating Liverpool at Anfield in the middle of December 2012, the Villans have played five English Premier League matches that have resulted in one draw, four losses and a negative goal difference of 16. Also, they have fallen 1-3 behind fourth-tier Bradford in their English Capital One Cup semi-final tie, albeit with their home leg still to come.

And if Lambert thinks he is under pressure now then he will not know what has hit him if Aston Villa slips up in any of its next three games – away to local rival West Bromwich in the English Premier League, home to Bradford in the English Capital One Cup last four and away to Millwall in the English FA Cup last 32. Every match is very important.

Many casual observers may think that it is somewhat strange that the Villans have not parted company with Lambert. After all, their recent losses to Chelsea (0-8 away), Tottenham (0-4 home), Wigan (0-3 home), Bradford (1-3 away) and Southampton (0-1 home) would seem sufficient for them to sack Lambert and get someone else to steer the ship.

But there are reasons for thinking that Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner will stand by his man, at least until the end of the season, and provide Lambert with an opportunity to get the Villans out of the mess and ready for next season.

First, Lerner headhunted Lambert for the Aston Villa job and it was the American billionaire’s advances that led the Scot to resign from his position with Norwich. The Villains and the Canaries took more than six months to agree a financial settlement that was acceptable not only to them but also to Lambert. Lerner has put a lot of time, effort and money into Lambert because he believes that the Scot is one of the best young managers operating in any major football league.

Paul-Lambert1Second, Lerner gave Aston Villa’s most hated boss, former Birmingham manager Alex McLeish, all of the 2011-2012 English Premier League season before terminating his contract the day after the last round of games. It would have been much easier – not to mention popular – had the Villains owner sacked the man nicknamed Big Eck earlier.

And third, Lerner has a long history of not making hasty decisions in the boardrooms of sports clubs. Before buying Aston Villa in the English summer of 2006, Lerner was best known for owning Cleveland’s famous National Football League franchise, the Browns, inheriting from his late father, Al.

Lerner owned Cleveland from 2002 until he sold the franchise in 2012 and, even though the Browns made the National Football League post season only once during those 10 years, he did not resort to pressing the panic button very often. None of the four permanent Browns coaches during Lerner’s tenure enjoyed a winning record – Butch Davis had the best numbers at 40 per cent – yet all of them received at least two full seasons.

If Lerner stays true to type then he will not get rid of Lambert unless he has no other choice. And Lambert, one of football’s toughest competitors, is unlikely to walk away from Aston Villa right now. His reputation is on the line.

Back Lambert at around 9-4 to be in charge of the Villains for the remainder of the current English Premier League campaign. He has not become a bad manager overnight – he performed excellent jobs at Wycombe, Colchester and, most famously, Norwich – and it is not as if Lerner would be inundated with great applicants if there was a vacancy. Also, when well connected BBC correspondent Pat Murphy reports that Lerner remains supportive of Lambert, it is significant. Murphy’s mail would be the horse’s mouth.

A win or two is all that Lambert needs to get Aston Villa’s supporters back in his corner because, while they do not like their side’s slump in form and results, they can see what the UEFA Champions League-winning midfielder is trying to achieve. Lambert is trying to regenerate the Villains and put them back in a position to challenge for major honours on a regular basis. It is just going to take some time.

If Aston Villa qualifies for the English Capital One Cup by eliminating the Bantams – a 2-0 home victory over the fourth-tier minnows would do the trick – then Lambert will get some breathing space and, maybe, a winnable Wembley Stadium final versus Swansea. And according to bookmakers, the Villains have about a 50% chance of making the decider.

About The Author

has written 94 awesome posts on tipsandpicks.com.

faststeady has been a professional sports bettor for the past decade and focusses on non-US sports here at tipsandpicks.com