Villa v Everton pre-match blog: Lambert, Zidane and the team huddle
Paul Brown on the Paul Lambert effect.
23rd Aug 2012
Villa v Everton pre-match blog: Lambert, Zidane and the team huddle


Paul Lambert is a firm believer that team spirit makes up 90% of the ingredients required to form a successful side - and he can draw on his own experiences as a player in making that assessment.

Lambert earned rave reviews for the way he shackled the almighty presence of Zinedine Zidane in the 1997 Champions League final.

Deployed as a defensive midfielder by Borussia Dortmund boss Ottmar Hitzfeld, Lambert totally nullified the threat of Zizou, then viewed as the planet's best.

Lambert even stepped beyond the specialist holding role to set up Karl-Heinz Riedle's opening goal in the unlikely 3-1 victory over Juventus.

But, discussing that playing highlight, Lambert is quick to deflect attention away from himself and on to the team collective.

"Zidane was brilliant. He's about 6ft 3in. But he's also really well built. People don't realise that," said Lambert.

"I remember standing next to him in the tunnel and thinking 'jeez, look at the size of him.'

"His feet were very quick and at that time he was probably the greatest player in the world.

"But with Zidane I was fortunate that things went my way that night. And I was only ever as good as the person next to me.

"I was never a great player or anything like that. I had a good team and good colleagues.

"I gave the ball to creative players so they could go and do their magic."

This incredible game in an incredible career for Lambert perfectly illustrates his footballing principles.

No player is bigger than the team and the side can only flourish when everyone is working together and for a common goal.

"Team spirit is absolutely vital," added Lambert.

"It is about 90% of your game because if you know the guy next to you is going for it for you, you'll do the exact same. And then it will transpire over to everyone in the dressing room."

It's an ideal that Lambert takes incredibly seriously.

He noted in the fans forum that he wanted to see an increase in the collective spirit among the players and he's undoubtedly resolved that with his brilliant brand of man-management.

Every player is singing from the same hymnsheet, they're hunting the ball in packs and even the passing football he's brought in owes something to the excellent communication between his players.

The best evidence of the side's solidarity is the pre-match huddle, where the claret and blue stars gee each other up to perform in the upcoming 90 minutes.

Tellingly, the gaffer appreciates it as a clear way of channelling energy pre-match.

Skipper Darren Bent is a firm admirer of its effect on the team.

"It's great. It really is," said the record-signing.

"I don't practice what I say! I start to speak and have my say and then others jump in like Shay and Ciaran. They will say their peace.

"It's not about one person. It's about all of us as a team. There's not one designated talker, everyone can have their say.

"Everyone loves it. We want everyone to communicate in there. It shows we're together and we're all going in the right direction. We all want to achieve the same goals."

And when they hopefully do go on to great things, there's no question that Lambert's belief in "spirit and solidarity" will have had a massive impact. Not that he'll take any credit for it!

Click here to pick up tickets for Villa's exciting first home game against Everton.

 

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paul brown, blogs, everton, paul lambert,
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