Paul Lambert: Stuttering Aston Villa cannot expect owner to splash the cash

Aston Villa 0 Southampton 1: Despite injury-hit team falling into drop zone, manager says he must go with what he's got

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Paul Lambert is refusing to add his voice to a chorus of disapproval among Aston Villa fans at American owner Randy Lerner's tightening of the purse strings at a time when the manager's largely inexperienced team has never looked more in need of quality reinforcement.

Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to relegation rivals Southampton left Villa in the bottom three, a day after Lambert dismissed moves for Joleon Lescott and Scott Parker in the transfer window as impossible under Lerner's new frugality.

Message boards and social networking sites reflect growing criticism of Lerner but, asked if Villa's plight meant he would have to demand more funds, Lambert would only defend Lerner's record at the club, in which he has invested almost £200m in the seven years since he took control.

"I didn't know it [Lerner's spending] was that much," Lambert said. "That's a lot of money, an incredible amount. You can't fault Randy for what he has done for this club, that's for sure.

"January gives us an opportunity to bring people in, and I have conversations with Randy all the time, but it would be wrong for me to say there is 'X' amount available.

"You can work with what you've got and if one or two come in, then great. I understand the finances of it. It's a privilege to work here. We'll give it a right good go – and we go with what we've got."

Lambert insists Villa will survive, despite the Premier League's poorest defensive record and the joint lowest goals tally, in a recent history of only five wins in 37 league games – almost a season's worth – with only one goal scored in their last six at home and 22 shipped in seven in all competitions.

Yet it will not reassure worried fans that his confidence appears to be based on little more than gut instinct.

"We have to do something [about where we are in the table] but I still think we will be safe. Why? I just do – I've said that from day one. If you look at the middle of that table, there is not much in it."

Villa deserved sympathy on Saturday. Still missing the experience of Ron Vlaar and Richard Dunne at the back, Lambert's youthful defence was unlucky that the one goal they conceded came from a particularly dubious first-half penalty. And with their most expensive striker, Darren Bent, again injured, a string of goal attempts in the second half either missed narrowly, were repelled by Saints goalkeeper Artur Boruc or, with a late Nathan Baker header, hit the woodwork.

Lambert accepted, though, that his own position cannot be taken for granted. "I'm pretty sure Randy is astute enough [to know where we are] and I'm not silly," he said. "I know the pitfalls of the game."

My Saints are streetwise now – Adkins

Southampton will travel to Chelsea on Wednesday "with no fear" despite being humiliated 5-1 at home by the Blues in the FA Cup this month. Saints manager Nigel Adkins (above) insisted his team is now streetwise enough to survive in the Premier League.

After the club's successive promotions, life in the elite seemed like a step too far when they lost eight of their first 10 games, shipping 28 goals. But since then they have lost only two from 11 and Saturday's 1-0 win at Aston Villa – the only side they beat in that nightmare start – took them two points clear of the bottom three.

"We didn't fear anyone at the beginning but when you are in those games you realise you get punished by good players for the slightest mistake," Adkins said.

"It was a big baptism for everybody but the players and everybody at the club are becoming accustomed to being at this level. We are grinding out the results and finding ways to win."