Saturday 26 May 2018

Lambert sees bright Villa future

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert believes owner Randy Lerner's honesty over his desire to sell the club has contributed to their best Barclays Premier League start in eight years.

Villa's 2-1 win over Hull, a scoreline that does not quite do justice to their dominance for the first hour, took them to seven points from a possible nine heading to the international break.

That is their best opening three-game return since 2006/07 and a far cry from the embattled atmosphere that shrouded the club towards the end of last season.

Some expected another year of struggle after American businessman Lerner put the club on the market in the summer, a move that has yet to lead to any concrete interest, but Lambert feels the transparency has helped everyone.

"I think what has helped is the chairman coming out and saying what he said," explained the Scot.

"That's given people a clear picture of what is happening.

"Everybody knows the situation with the football club now, the way it is, it's out there.

"The chairman's being great, he's done everything he can here.

"The crowd have galvanised as well. They've realised if they stick with it and get right behind it I'm pretty sure we'll win more than not."

Villa endured a slightly nervy finale against Hull as Nikica Jelavic's deflected header halved a two-goal deficit created by the electric Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann inside 36 minutes.

The hosts should have been home and dry by the hour mark, but saw Fabian Delph and Ashley Westwood denied by the woodwork.

Lambert, whose side were dire at home last season, was content to focus on the positives of Villa's early dominance.

"I thought in the first half we were outstanding. If we'd scored another couple I don't think anyone could have begrudged us that and that would have made the second half a little more easy," Lambert said.

"Gaby, especially in the first half, was unplayable today. Excellent.

"The movement of the midfield was terrific, the passing was so sharp, our willingness to go and win the game was excellent."

Lambert confirmed that Karim El Ahmadi was close to sealing a move back to former club Feyenoord but declared "nothing is moving forward" with his interest in Manchester United's Tom Cleverley on the eve of transfer deadline day.

Hull boss Steve Bruce gave a stinging assessment of his team's struggles in the opening 45 minutes, declaring it the worst he has seen in his time at the club.

He was also not willing to offer any free passes due to the midweek disappointment of crashing out of the Europa League on away goals.

"I can't get over how bad we were in the first half. I've been at the club a couple of years and that is arguably the worst I've seen us perform," said Bruce.

"I can't remember us performing so badly.

"I don't look for excuses, I've just never seen so many people perform so badly.

"Whether it's a hangover (from Europe) or whatever I won't accept it. I won't accept a performance where we were so lifeless it's incredible.

"To win a game or take something in the Barclays Premier League you have to perform like we did in the second half.

"We gifted them goals (in the first half), we made mistake after mistake, we didn't get above a jog. We were that poor.

"Maybe it's a wake up call, maybe we were all getting carried away with all the nonsense that has been written about us."

Press Association

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