Paul Lambert was announced as the new Stoke City boss on Monday morning after a protracted hunt for Mark Hughes’ replacement.
The Stoke board turned to the former Norwich City gaffer after approaches to Quique Sanchez Flores and Martin O’Neill failed.
Lambert now has a big job on his hands to turn the Potters around. Many on the football spectrum may scoff at the appointment; however, it could prove a savvy decision.
After a doing a wonderful job at Carrow Road with two consecutive promotions, Lambert’s reputation shipped a battering at Villa.
The Scot took on a huge task at the Midlands giants. Randy Lerner had massively reduced spending at the club and the squad was generally drained of its previous quality.
He did have money to buy players at Villa Park, but low wages were a huge problem in enticing top quality. Lambert chose to rely on young talent from lower league clubs and a sprinkling of unpolished foreign gems.
It was up and down at B6. At times under his stewardship, Villa played some sparkling counter-attacking football and looked to be on the precipice of pushing on.
However, it all went horribly wrong in his third season as the club struggled badly and eventually sacked Lambert. In truth, he struggled to recover from that period with underwhelming spells at both Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
His penchant for dour phraseology after bad defeats didn’t help with fans, either.
But much like West Ham United and David Moyes, Stoke seems a good fit for Lambert. He’ll have a decent squad to work with and supportive owners who won’t immediately pull the trigger when things get rough.
If the 48-year-old can channel his previous efforts at Norwich into this group of Potters players, he could do much better than expected.
While no side is “too good to go down”, players like Jack Butland, Kurt Zouma, Xherdan Shaqiri, Joe Allen, Ryan Shawcross, and Saido Berahino are much better than what they’ve shown this term.
Peter Coates and his board will likely back Lambert in the January transfer market should he need reinforcements.
Stoke are currently 15/8 to be relegated. That may seem a good price right now. But come May, we reckon Lambert will have pulled the Potters clear.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication