Following two seasons slogging it out near the dangerous end of the Premier League, Aston Villa have made a fantastic start to their 2014/15 campaign and their manager has already been rewarded.
Paul Lambert has just extended his current contract up to 2018, with his side sitting pretty in second place fresh off the back off a mightily impressive win at Anfield.
The Villans now look a great shout to finish above the top-flight fold at 13/10, but after posting a pair of 15th place finishes during his first two years in charge, just where has this sudden upturn in Lambert’s fortunes emanated from?
Signing experienced players
Although Lambert has forged an admirable reputation for giving youth a chance at Villa Park, albeit mostly brought in from other clubs, the cries to get some wise heads back into the team have been growing over the past two seasons.
Some of the signings may not have got the pulses racing but the likes of Kieran Richardson, Philippe Senderos, Tom Cleverley and Aly Cissokho have added some much-needed nous, clearly visible against Liverpool.
Having experienced duo Alan Hutton and Charles N’Zogbia back in favour is also a massive plus for the midlanders.
Love him or loathe him, Keane’s influence since coming in as Lambert’s assistant can’t be underestimated.
He’s a winner and where Lambert offers the gentle arm, the Manchester United legend can command a different sort of respect which young players need.
Fresh eyes on a situation can never hurt if done in the correct way, which Keane’s appointment as number two rather than as a director of football or some such shady position clearly has been.
Young players maturing
As mentioned above Lambert has persevered with developing his young players and all of a sudden the fruits of his labour are paying off.
Ashley Westwood, Nathan Baker and especially new England star Fabian Delph’s Premier League exposure has brought them on leaps and bounds.
Villa sticking with Lambert through the dark times
There have been plenty of calls for Lambert’s head during the rough periods and bad results of the previous two terms but Randy Lerner’s patience (if not his generosity with the chequebook) must be applauded.
Continuity of ideas and coaching is usually key to success in football.
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