Can Paul Lambert survive at Aston Villa?

Scot's struggling side face a tricky test at Bradford tonight with his position in doubt but, as former colleagues tell Jack Pitt-Brooke, he will not hide

Career triumphs in some of Europe's biggest venues will count for little for Paul Lambert at Valley Parade. Glory for the Aston Villa manager, whose team are out of the Premier League relegation zone by a point, seems a long way off and a trip to Bradford City in the Capital One Cup semi-finals could turn things for better... or worse. Those who know him best say he ready to rise to the challenge.

DAVID WINNIE (Played with Lambert at St Mirren 1987-1991, winning the 1987 Scottish Cup)

Even at 17 at St Mirren it was obvious at that point he had great ability and that he would go further. Going to Celtic Park didn't faze Paul in the slightest. He was determined no one was going to beat him.

The 1987 Scottish Cup final was a huge thing for the club. We were playing Dundee United, one of the best teams in Europe, who had just reached the final of the Uefa Cup. We were up against it. But Paul just treated the game like any other and played very well.

Paul used to know everything that was done, training sessions he had attended or he had heard from others, to build up a bank of ideas he could use in the future. He had forthright opinions about the game and he wasn't afraid to express them. He is very single-minded and determined.

CAMPBELL MONEY (Played with Lambert at St Mirren 1987-1993)

He came into the team when he was very young. There wasn't much of him. He had a very slight build but a single-minded determination to do well. He wouldn't shy away from a confrontation if a confrontation was required. He had an opinion. And if he thought that opinion had to be aired then he did it.

TOMMY MCLEAN (Managed Lambert at Motherwell 1993-1994)

I spoke to my friend Alec Smith who had Paul, and he highly recommended him.

He was a good football-orientated lad. He was always taking notes about the exercises and routines. He had a good knowledge of the game. Once you told him something the message would stick in his head and he would try to do something about it.

In the bigger games he would always come to the fore. That is what his career has been about. That year we finished third, a magnificent achievement for a club like Motherwell.

STEVE KIRK (Played with Lambert at Motherwell 1993-1995)

When the chips were down he wouldn't hide, he would keep the ball, anywhere on the pitch. He wasn't a tough guy on the pitch or anything like that but he had a strong will and he did it his way.

When you look at him he's very like Martin O'Neill on the touch-line. But he's his own person.

CRAIG BURLEY (Played with Lambert at Celtic 1997-1999)

I arrived at Celtic in July 1997, Paul arrived from Dortmund in November. Had Dortmund changed him? Absolutely. He went over there as a nobody and came back a Champions League winner, and as this very organised, very well thought-out holding midfielder, which obviously Ottmar Hitzfeld had moulded him into. It was obvious that Hitzfeld had a major, major influence on him. He spoke so highly of Hitzfeld's tactical acumen and his man-management.

He wasn't a massive socialiser. He was the only one who always used to come in after a game on a Sunday for his massages and stretching. You always found him talking to manager Wim Jansen on a Sunday, in deep thought and conversation. Jansen was a man of very, very few words, but when he spoke he made an impact. And I think Paul took to that, because he knew Jansen was a deep thinker about the game. He took a lot from Jansen, they were very close.

Everybody else was a bit hungover on a Sunday, Paul was always talking to the manager. And I wouldn't think he would have done that before he went to Dortmund. I think it was something ingrained in him in Germany.

MATT BLOOMFIELD (Played under Lambert at Wycombe, 2006-08)

From the first day he just had this aura about him. Everything he said, you listened to because there was nothing wasted there. When he spoke it was for a reason.

He motivated us to play well beyond our ability, taking us to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup, to draw 1-1 with Chelsea in the first leg. He didn't really need to say too much. He just tried to say to us, "Just go and give it your best shot," because we'd done the hard work by getting there. "You've earned the chance to go and play these players, now go and show them how good you are."

He wasn't ever best mates with the lads, he stepped back from training, which Ian Culverhouse did. So when it came to him saying his piece after training that's what he did well. When he spoke to you, you knew he meant what he said. That was his greatest quality.

He was just able to get the lads to believe in anything he said. It's an old cliché but you would run through brick walls for him, it's not a surprise how well he has gone on and done.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
music
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn