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?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders