Thursday 22 March 2018

Pardew backs Lambert to guide Villa to safety

John Curtis

NEWCASTLE manager Alan Pardew is backing Aston Villa counterpart Paul Lambert to lead the midlands club to Barclays Premier League survival.

Villa slid back into the bottom three for the third time this season after losing 2-1 at home to the Magpies last night, and they have taken only two points from the last seven games.

But Pardew was sufficiently impressed by Villa's second half revival - and the standing ovation given by the home fans - to predict they will survive.

He said: "I think Villa are going to be more than good enough to get out of the situation they are in.

"They've got some great players and I think they've got a good manager.

"He is under pressure at the moment, the team is under pressure, you can sense that a little bit.

"But get a win, get a little bit of luck, and they will be okay and on another day they could have got something against us.

"I really felt they gave us a lot of problems second half and it was nice to see their fans appreciate that as well because fans don't always."

Lambert's own position continues to be secure and he received the backing of club owner Randy Lerner in a rare public statement on the eve of the game.

The former Norwich boss said: "Randy has been great. I have nothing bad to say about him. If that's what he's saying, it's always good to get support from the people who hire you.

"All I can do is my best to turn things round. I have a good relationship with him. I speak to him all the time."

Lambert retains faith in his current squad to stay up, but is uncertain whether he will sign anyone before the transfer window shuts tomorrow.

He said: "There's been things we've tried. Money dictates a lot of things. You have to play with the hand you're dealt.

"Will new signings come in? I am not so sure. The situation has not really changed since January 1. That's the bottom line.

"But if not I believe the current squad can stay up, and if I have to go with this group, I will."

One of those players Lambert was unsuccessful in trying to sign was Moussa Sissoko, who instead joined Newcastle and set up their opening goal last night.

Pardew believes the French midfielder will make a big impact for the Magpies.

He said: "My vision of him in the team is to play a role where he is using his energy.

"He's got massive energy and power. I don't want to compare him to another player but he can certainly play all three roles in midfield.

"He can play behind the front man, play the number eight in a Stevie Gerrard type role and also operate in a sitting role."

Defender Steven Taylor also returned after a two-month absence through injury, with instructions from Pardew to modify his game.

Pardew said: "The trick with Steven is he needs to stay away from injuries and he needs to protect himself and he needs to learn.

"When he got injured last time, he was running up for free-kicks, running back, sprinting here, sprinting there and wanting to do this and that.

"He needs to learn he needs to manage himself in a game. He has got genuine enthusiasm but at times to his detriment.

"He needs to learn now because he is at an age now where he really needs to push on.

"Potentially, I've always thought he could be an England centre-half because he can pass, he can jump, he is quick enough, and he has certainly got confidence to play at that level.

"But unfortunately the injuries have always knocked him when he was doing well."

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