Lerner's backing offers Lambert breathing space

Villa owner gives manager go-ahead to spend after calamitous Christmas defeats

Paul Lambert takes his listing Aston Villa team to Swansea on Tuesday reinforced by the unconditional backing of the club's American owner, Randy Lerner. There is money to spend in the January transfer window, should Lambert find the player of his dreams, and more importantly there is faith in the path the manager is pursuing.

Lerner's attendance at Villa Park for the 3-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic on Saturday added urgency and drama at the end of a six-day spell in which Villa shipped 15 goals without reply. But there was no sense of desperation as Lambert conducted face-to-face discussions with Lerner and the chief executive, Paul Faulkner, over the weekend instead of the weekly telephone exchange.

Lerner, who has spent almost a quarter of a billion pounds since his acquisition of Villa in 2006, including more than £20m on nine new faces in the summer, the fifth-biggest outlay in the Premier League, remains committed to a strategy focused on the Villa academy and the development of home-grown talent. Equally, he accepts that the club's plight demands further transfer activity to secure Premier League survival.

Buoyed by the chairman's support, Lambert restated his optimism for the future and believes that the events of the past week will have no bearing on his ability to attract players to the club. "I always speak to the chairman and to Paul after games. Obviously, the discussions will remain private. I have a good relationship with the chairman but football is a results business," Lambert said.

"I can only work with what I have, and that is the same for any manager, you try to do your job the best you can. Everybody says that January is an absolute nightmare of a month for the transfer window because people can panic and all those things, prices are inflated, people don't want to sell, so it is a tough one. But it is pretty easy to sell the club. The stature it has got, you don't need to be Einstein to try to sell this club. It is huge."

Swansea were unbeaten during the Christmas fixtures and did Villa a festive service with their victory on Saturday away to Fulham, who are only three points ahead and one of half a dozen teams within six points of the drop zone. No such concerns attach themselves to Swansea, who begin the new year in mid-table heaven, on the same 28 points as Liverpool and with the same plus-five goal difference.

The Swansea story is part of a footballing upswing in South Wales that includes Cardiff City's ambitious push for promotion to the Premier League. Michael Laudrup's team plays with the same verve established under Brendan Rodgers. There is also a pragmatic quality associated with Swansea, which militates against getting carried away when the opposition arrive in desperate straits.

"So many times over the years we've had teams coming to us in poor form but they have raised their game at the Liberty," said the club captain, Garry Monk. "We won't be taking them lightly. They beat us 2-0 at their place earlier in the season, so we know the quality they possess. And after the results in their last few games, they will be fighting for every single thing. But we'll be fully charged up too, because we want to start the year on a positive note."

Kick-off 3pm Referee M Halsey (Hertfordshire) TV Highlights, 10.25pm, BBC 1.

Odds: Swansea City 3-5 Draw 11-4 Aston Villa 5-1

New villans? Transfer targets

Tom Ince, 20, Blackpool

Would not provide the experience Villa require, but fans are keen on the midfielder who is also wanted by Liverpool.

Raoul Loe, 23, Osasuna

Villa sent a scout to watch the French defensive midfielder, who has been likened to Patrick Vieira. Could be available on the cheap as Osasuna have financial problems.

Nigel Reo-Coker, 28, Ipswich Town

Former player who made more than 100 appearances for Villa. Knows the club, available this month and always ready for a scrap. EMILY LEES

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Johnny Handle, Northumberland, Ted Relph, President of Lakeland Dialect Society, and Sid Calderbank, Lancashire, founder of the National Dialect Day
newsMeet the enthusiasts determined to stop them dying out
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. Argyll, has remained derelict for more than 25 years
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
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

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game