The crisis clubs: Newcastle United meet Aston Villa in a game neither dare lose

Lerner backs Lambert – but no sign of any fresh faces

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner has reiterated his support for manager Paul Lambert ahead of tomorrow's crunch Barclays Premier League clash with fellow strugglers Newcastle.

Lerner, the American entrepreneur who has invested £250m in Villa since buying the club in 2006, gave his last formal press conference in 2010 and has not agreed to be interviewed by an English football writer since 2011.

Yet the mounting pressure on Villa manager Paul Lambert following the ignominy of two cup defeats in four days to lower-league opponents has prompted Lerner to break his silence by reaffirming his backing for the beleaguered Scot.

Lerner himself has been under fire for failing to support Lambert during the transfer window despite a woeful Premier League record of four wins in 23 matches that has left them one point above the relegation places.

In a statement issued ahead of tonight's critical Premier League match at Villa Park between Villa and a similarly shaky Newcastle United, Lerner said: "In the time that I've come to know Paul what is clear above all else is his strength of character and belief in his approach to football.

"Fortunes can shift quickly in this game and a sense that one has it right can become grave doubt in a matter of a few games.

"The Villa board knew that with Paul we would begin to address the club's multi-year lack of competitive stability by reshaping the squad with seven new signings in the summer. It has been rewarding at times this season although certainly frustrating as well, particularly recently.

"During January, Paul and the board have discussed a variety of players although nothing has yet materialised, which I know also can be frustrating as fresh players always give at least a sense of progress and optimism.

"Finally, and on a very personal note, I would reiterate that Paul has achieved success at many levels of professional football and I believe, given support, he will continue to do so for us."

Lerner's comments – he gave similar backing for Alex McLeish in April last year, three weeks before terminating his contract – came after Lambert had launched a strong defence of Lerner's stewardship.

Lambert missed out on several potential January signings because he could not meet the asking price. One of his targets, the 23-year-old French midfielder Moussa Sissoko, signed instead for Newcastle.

But he insisted that Lerner's shift towards the young, cut-price players that dominated last summer's Villa Park intake was not "a flawed plan" and denied that the owner had lost interest in the club.

"The conversations I have with him will remain private but they have been really good and I have faith in his plan for the club," Lambert said. "I don't think it is a flawed plan.

"When I came I knew it was going to be a rebuilding process but to rebuild something you have to strip it back first. I knew the remit for the job.

"He has certainly not lost interest or washed his hands of the club. After putting in the incredible amount of money he has put in that is not going to happen.

"It will take two to three years easily and relegation is not part of the plan. No one is prepared to accept that. But I still believe we will survive because there will be twists and turns before it is over."

Lambert hinted he may be prepared to welcome back Richard Dunne, the 33-year-old Republic of Ireland centre-back whose days at the club looked numbered but whose return to training after a long-term groin injury offers the prospect of reinforcing an inexperienced defence. That rearguard has so far leaked 44 Premier League goals and was exposed by both League Two Bradford City in the Capital One Cup and Millwall of the Championship in the FA Cup last week.

"Richard has been round the block, he has that desire to compete and put his head on the line, to go in where you might get hurt, which is what our players have to do now," Lambert said. "He is a good talker too and we could do with that. He is not feeling too bad at the moment and I will go by how he feels but you can't rush someone into doing something he is not comfortable with.

Villa defender Alan Hutton is on the verge of a move to La Liga side Real Mallorca. The 28-year-old right-back, who is out of favour at Villa Park, will join on loan with Mallorca to the end of the season with a view to a permanent move in the summer. He was signed for £3m from Spurs in 2011.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
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

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment