Paul Lambert makes ‘most frustrating’ Aston Villa transfer admission and gives Unai Emery verdict

 

Former Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert believes he was at the right place but at the wrong time during his 32-month spell in charge.

 

The Scot replaced Alex McLeish in the summer of 2012 as then-owner Randy Lerner tightened the purse strings. It meant Lambert was forced to shop on a budget with star striker Christian Benteke his top buy at just £7m. The likes of Ron Vlaar, Matt Lowton, Joe Bennett, Ashley Westwood and Karim El Ahmadi also joined that summer in cut-price deals.

Speaking to Sun Sport, Lambert said of his time at Villa: “The most frustrating element was that Villa were in a state of financial flux with Randy Lerner trying to sell the club. As manager, I was working with so many restrictions yet we had the basis of a great squad.

I took charge of the club in the summer of 2012 season and Christian [Benteke] was one of the strikers I targeted. The other front man we wanted was Romelu Lukaku, who was a kid at Chelsea at the time.

“I was at Villa for two-and-a-half years and have nothing but great memories of my time there. It’s a huge club with an incredible fanbase and I couldn’t be happier to see where they are today and the financial support now in place.”

Lambert, who went on to manage Blackburn, Wolves, Stoke and Ipswich, added: “I don’t want this to sound like a sob story but I had exactly the same situation at Wolves when I became manager at Molineux in 2016. Once again, it’s an outstanding club with fervent and passionate fans but I had so many financial restraints with the club changing ownership.

“When Nuno Espirito Santo took over in 2017, everything changed and he was able to give the squad a reboot and I’m pleased to say Wolves are now, deservedly, an established Premier League club.

Don’t get me wrong, I would not have changed a single moment of being manager of either Villa or Wolves. But I look back now and I know I was at the right clubs on both occasions – but simply at the wrong times.”

 

Lambert, meanwhile, credited current Villa boss Unai Emery for the work he’s done since his appointment back in October, with Villa just one game away from securing European football for next season.

think it underlines just how important a manager is to the success of your team,” Lambert said of Emery. “You only have to look at the Prem table before he took charge for the first time against Manchester United in November. Villa had just 12 points from 13 games and were level with Southampton but two points behind Leicester and three points behind Leeds.

 

“Whatever happens [if Villa get Europe or not], it has to go down as one of the managerial performances of the season. It’s incredible how Emery has turned the club around since that win over United.”


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