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.

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations should be regarded as an offensive act
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
people
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices