Sunday 24 September 2017

Lambert still fears sack despite stopping rot

Aston Villa 1 Swansea 1

Roland Lamah of Swansea City
Roland Lamah of Swansea City

Eleanor Crooks

Under-fire Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert is planning for the long term, but admits he does not feel immune from the sack. Villa at least ended a run of four straight defeats at home to Swansea, but there were more boos from the Villa Park faithful as the visitors dominated.

Of the seven teams below Villa in the table, five have already parted company with a manager this season. There is no sense Lambert's job is under any real threat, with chairman Randy Lerner offering his support, but the Scot will not get too comfortable.

"I've got a good relationship with Randy, but that doesn't mean I'm immune to it," he said. "I always have that fear. I always had that fear as a footballer and I always do when I'm the manager. I think you've got to have that. I don't think it will get any tougher than what happened last year and he was great with me then. I spoke to him last night and he's been good now as well."

When Crystal Palace's Dwight Gayle netted the winner in injury-time on Thursday it appeared festive cheer would again be entirely absent at Villa.

But things began well yesterday with Gabriel Agbonlahor netting after only seven minutes. Agbonlahor rushed to Lambert and the squad celebrated exuberantly in a huddle in front of the Villa bench.

But Swansea quickly took control of the game and there was no doubt they deserved their equaliser, which was headed in by Roland Lamah in the 37th minute.

The visitors dominated the second half completely, but could not turn possession into chances, with Brad Guzan having only one real save to make from Jonathan De Guzman's free-kick.

Lambert cited the absence of injured trio Christian Benteke, Ron Vlaar and Jores Okore, saying: "It's a game that you'd love to win, but a point stops that sequence of losing, which was vital for us. We're without big players, and it's a lot for us to carry. We're a young squad and when you lose people like Benteke, Vlaar and Okore, it's a big chunk of our spine."

Swansea are also in a sticky run having not won any of their last six games, and it was confirmed yesterday that top scorer Michu has had an ankle operation that will keep him out for six weeks.

Boss Michael Laudrup had no doubt they deserved more from Villa Park. He said: "Normally when you get a point from away games in the Premier League, especially if you are a mid-table or bottom team, you should be pleased, but after our first half we should have won the game."

Irish Independent

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