Transfer deadline blog: New players will fizz like a bottle of coke!
Paul Brown on Paul Lambert's way forward.
31st Aug 2012
Transfer deadline blog: New players will fizz like a bottle of coke!


It doesn't take a genius to work out Paul Lambert's vision for the future at Villa.

Lambert's masterplan is starting to take shape and it's an exciting dynamic.

Lambert is keen to build a free-flowing side, packed full of young bucks who are ardent in their desire to turn Villa into a major Barclays Premier League force once again.

Matt Lowton is 23. Joe Bennett is 22. Jordan Bowery is 21. Christian Benteke is 21. Ashley Westwood is 22.

While other managers are signing the same old names, those who are as well-travelled as Lawrence of Arabia or Karl Pilkington, Lambert is eager to begin work on his visionary claret and blueprint of the present...and future.

Don't get me wrong, Lambert wants real men in his side. Just look at Ron Vlaar, a 27-year-old who has the life experience of someone twice his age and Shay Given, a goalkeeper Lambert jokingly says pushes the defensive unit's average up to 84!

But Lambert is eager to merge that experience with the hunger that is all too evident in up-and-comers.

"I have total confidence in them to go and do it. I trust them to go and do it. They are hungry to do it.

"Hopefully the fans can trust us. We are here to do as well as we can for the football club. To do that, you have to get players in who you think can do it.

"I had the same questions at Norwich in every passing transfer window. If I think you're good enough, I will throw you in. I won't have any problem with young players, none!

"It is my decision. Football decisions are mine and I will take responsibility on everything.

"You are giving people opportunities. How do you know someone is not good enough? You won't know until you give them that chance and I like to do that."

But don't for one minute write these youngsters off as inexperienced starlets.

One of the key reasons why Lambert signed them in the first-place - other than their obvious ability to get better and better with age - is their grounding in "men's football".

"The young lads I had at Norwich had played League One football. Some had played League Two. Some had played Championship. Some had never played Championship but what they did have was an experience of playing men's football.

"The Norwich lads had played 200 games, 300 games in League One, which is a hell of a hard league. The Championship is as tough as anything. They had experience of playing in that environment."

Lambert is a firm believer that the progress of Lowton, Bennett, Bowery and Westwood in claret and blue will go hand in hand with a competitive edge, forged and developed in the so-called lower divisions.

Saying all that, one of the key components missing sometimes from young players moving up the football ladder is a sense of belonging.

They can feel out of their depth mingling with international stars and under pressure to produce more than they're capable of.

There's no chance of that mindset creeping in at Bodymoor Heath with Lambert in charge.

He believes in his players - regardless of age - and gives them a freedom to express themselves.

He's a man-motivator in the mould of Brian Clough, able to make his players believe they can fight Klitschko, ascend Everest or outsprint Bolt.

"You want all players to go and express themselves," said Lambert.

"I think if a player plays with fear, there's only one way he's going to go.

"There'll be times when you think 'what's he doing?' but you have to give them that freedom."

Lambert also has no favourites. If you're good enough, you're young enough. And if you produce on the training ground pre-match and you're the best in your particular position, you'll play. Simple as that.

Lambert knows from experience the anxiety of seemingly not belonging but also the easy way of overcoming it.

"After some pre-season games with Dortmund, I was back at the training ground and all the German internationals who had won Euro 96 were returning after an extended summer break," recalled Lambert.

"There was Jürgen Kohler, Steffen Freund, Andreas Möller, Stefan Reuter and Matthias Sammer.

"I remember thinking, 'No, you can't handle that company, you're coming on a free from Motherwell.'

"I was worth a bottle of coke! But I signed on the Thursday before the season started, I played, I did well and it just snowballed.

"All of a sudden the crowd took to me and I became a mainstay. It changed my whole career."

If the likes of Lowton, Bennett, Bowery, Benteke and Westwood feel the passion of the fans, play well and see their confidence rise, it could be quite some adventure for them in claret and blue.

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