Lerner ready to spend as Villa lurch into relegation zone
Aston Villa 0 Southampton 1
Randy Lerner is ready to acknowledge the state of crisis gripping Aston Villa by supplying extra funds for manager Paul Lambert to spend in this month's transfer window.
The American owner had been reluctant to spend in January but is aware that Villa's situation is becoming critical. He watched this damaging defeat to Southampton on television in the US and is understood to be growing increasingly concerned at the slide that has deposited Lambert's side in the relegation zone.
Lerner, however, is not prepared to fork out substantial amounts of money after spending over £200m in six years and Lambert has been told he cannot bring in loan signings as the owner is not prepared to pay the wages of players at other clubs.
The pressure is undoubtedly on Villa to act and the financial implications of relegation are seriously grave for Lerner, even though he sold NFL franchise Cleveland Browns for an estimated £620m last year.
Days after an embarrassing defeat to League Two Bradford City in the League Cup semi-final first leg, this was another kick in the guts for Lambert.
From 38 games they have recorded only 30 points, failed to score in their last four home games in the league, and their goal difference is the worst in the division.
Villa's back four and two holding midfielders had an average age of 22 against Southampton and were frequently exposed in another painful afternoon.
The decisive moment in the 34th minute was contentious, with Jay Rodriguez clearly taking a dive before Enda Stevens had even made contact, but everything seems to be conspiring against Lambert.
Rickie Lambert's 10th goal of the season, from the spot, ensured the visitors have taken six points from Villa this season and extended their recent revival. (© Daily Telegraph, London)