Monday media watch [14.01.13 AM]: More Southampton reports
Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert blasted Mark Halsey for wrongly "guessing" about the penalty decision which cost Villa and suggested the referee will be "embarrassed." But Lambert refrained from criticising Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez whose dive over the outstretched leg of Enda Stevens conned the match official.
Daily Mail: Randy Lerner viewed the latest episode in Aston Villa's descent with growing worry, reluctantly admitting he will again be called on to save his club from relegation. The billionaire American watches a live feed of every Villa match via satellite and, minutes after the final whistle, swaps his thoughts with chief executive Paul Faulkner. His verdict on the 1-0 home defeat by Southampton was that "doing nothing is not an option" after Rickie Lambert's penalty had divided the teams. Lerner is willing to foot the bill should Villa manager Paul Lambert find the experienced centre-half and midfielder he desperately needs.
Daily Express: Blind faith were an English blues-rock band of the late sixties. They should reform - they would go down a storm at Villa Park. Blind faith is about all that's left. Manager Paul Lambert has it, saying repeatedly that everything will be really fine. So have owner Randy Lerner and chief executive Paul Faulkner. So have the crowd, who were lulled by a rousing Villa finish to yet another defeat. But the facts don't support the faith.
Daily Mirror: Paul Lambert's new era at Aston Villa was officially branded "Lambert's Lions" but "Lambert's Lambs" is now more appropriate. And on this evidence, Villa's inexperienced side are heading to the relegation abattoir after a morale-sapping, frustrating loss. It wasn't as damning as their festive stuffings when Villa's young team visited the slaughter-house at Chelsea and were also thumped by Spurs and Wigan. But the club are now battling relegation for a third successive season and fans are enduring an unpleasant sense of déjà-vu.
Daily Star: If Randy Lerner needed any more convincing that it's crisis time at Aston Villa - then here it was. Villa's owner watched events unfold via satellite link in his native America and how he must have wished being spared by dodgy reception. Luck was by no means on Villa's side - Jay Rodriguez's first-half dive to win the decisive spot-kick was as blatant as they come. But, having recorded just 30 points from their past 38 games in what has the unmissable whiff of relegation form, their slump extends far beyond one penalty decision.
The Sun: It was hardly a shock when Lambert declared Aston Villa would not be relegated, minutes after Saturday's home defeat by Southampton. The twist in the tale was it was Saints star Rickie who claimed Paul's Villa are too good to go down. Striker Lambert, 30, who won the clash with a controversial 34th minute penalty, said: "Villa are a good team and I think they will stay up easily."
Independent: Paul Lambert is refusing to add his voice to a chorus of disapproval among Aston Villa fans at American owner Randy Lerner's tightening of the purse strings at a time when the manager's largely inexperienced team has never looked more in need of quality reinforcement. Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to relegation rivals Southampton left Villa in the bottom three, a day after Lambert dismissed moves for Joleon Lescott and Scott Parker in the transfer window as impossible under Lerner's new frugality. Messageboards and social networking sites reflect growing criticism of Lerner but, asked if Villa's plight meant he would have to demand more funds, Lambert would only defend Lerner's record at the club, in which he has invested almost £200m in the seven years since he took control.
Times: Randy Lerner may have been squirming with discomfort as he watched this latest setback for his team on satellite television in the United States, but the Aston Villa chairman is unlikely to change tack and make massive funds available in this month's transfer window. Paul Lambert, who received the backing of his players after their fell into the relegation zone only four nights after their dreams of reaching Wembley were hampered by Bradford City, is in the market for a more experienced central defender and a composed midfield authoritarian. But he would prefer to acquire players with their best years ahead of them.
Daily Telegraph: Randy Lerner is ready to acknowledge the state of crisis gripping Aston Villa by supplying extra funds for manager Paul Lambert to spend in this month's transfer window. Villa's American owner has been reluctant to spend in January but is aware that the club's situation is becoming critical. He watched the damaging defeat on television in the United States and is understood to be growing increasingly concerned at the slide that had deposited Lambert's side in the relegation zone.
Guardian: At half-time, the boos rang around Villa Park. Aston Villa trailed 1-0 against Southampton and had been mostly clueless. At full-time, the jeers were less fierce. Villa had lost but a stirring late rally had generated a touch of warmth towards them. At least they had given it a go. Fans recognise effort and work rate as much as they do a lack of passion and apathy. As they drifted off into the numbingly cold evening on Saturday, the second-half revival - albeit in a losing cause - had perhaps offered them hope for the future. At the moment, it is all they have to cling to. Villa lie in 18th place in the Premier League, languishing in the bottom three for the first time since mid-November, when they were thumped 5-0 at Manchester City. The revival that followed that rout, a six-match unbeaten run, has evaporated; Villa are in freefall. Yet stability is needed, not knee-jerk reaction to please the populace. It is why Randy Lerner, the Villa chairman, will stick by Paul Lambert, his manager. For the moment. It is why there may be a wise addition or two to the playing squad, not wholesale panic buying, before the transfer window closes at the end of this month.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.