Man Utd v Villa: Lambert - We're not making up the numbers
Sir Alex Ferguson spotted something about Paul Lambert's aspiring Villa side when they beat Stoke 3-1 two weeks ago.
Ferguson was intrigued by the starting line-up that Lambert fielded for that crunch clash at the hostile Britannia Stadium.
He watched on with relish as goals from Gabby Agbonlahor, Matt Lowton and Christian Benteke secured three precious survival points.
Afterwards, he said: "When I saw the structure of his team, it looked really positive. A lot of teams in that situation may pick a team to get something out of the game. Paul Lambert picked a team to win. There is a distinction."
And it will be exactly the same tonight as Villa face his Man Utd team at Old Trafford.
Lambert is adamant his side will be going all-out for victory against a Red Devils outfit that will be searching for the three points that would secure them their 20th Premier League title.
Lambert said: "It's fantastic. Going up there to an arena like Old Trafford will be brilliant.
"But you don't want to go up there and just make up the numbers.
"We'll go up there and try to win the game. We're up against probably the champions-elect. It's a great place to go and play. But we will go there and make a good game of it.
"It will be the same as we have always done. Nothing will change. We won't make any special plans.
"We know it's going to be a really tough game, with the players Man Utd gave got. They have a fabulous side, a team which is very, very good.
"But we are playing well enough to go and try to win games. This one will be exceptionally hard. But anything can happen on any given day in a one-off game.
"You have seen it a million times - teams not expecting to get anything end up winning.
"The performances of late have been very, very good. You can't ask any more than that. We would have wanted to win against Fulham but they are a very good side aswell. But you look at the table and there's nothing in it whatsoever."
It will be a cauldron of noise at Old Trafford, undoubtedly, as home supporters urge the team as they bid to reclaim their crown, which was snatched away by noisy neighbours Man City last time out.
It could be intimidating to some but Lambert believes his players have the wherewithal to handle the situation, after coming through tests at similar coliseums like Anfield earlier in the season.
He continued: "If you don't enjoy going there and playing in that environment, then there's something seriously wrong with you.
"That is a fabulous place to play football. Yes, you're up against one of the best teams in Europe. But, you've got to go there and enjoy it and handle it.
"We've been to the Emirates and played really well and at Anfield we played really well.
"I don't think they'll be nervy about it. I think they'll go to enjoy it."
Villa have already performed well against the champions-elect this season, heading into a 2-0 lead at Villa Park thanks to Andreas Weimann before surrendering the advantage and all three points to the Red Devils 3-2.
This inability to hold on to a two-goal advantage has been one of the major reasons for his team's basement battle according to Lambert while Man Utd's ability to charge back from the same scoreline has been a sign of their clinical character over many years.
He continued: "We should have picked up more points than what we've got. We've lost two-goal leads but that would be a learning curve for us to see it through.
"If you look at that we'd be up in mid-table. But we're not. We are where we are but you keep going and striving on.
"Man Utd are used to playing those type of games and pulling it back. How many times have you seen them doing that?
"We gave a good account of ourselves, we really did and if we can replicate that, who knows what can happen."
Lambert will be desperate to get one over on Ferguson for survival purposes tonight.
And if he does, it won't be the only offering he's received from Sir Alex in his managerial career.
Lambert will forever be indebted to the Man Utd boss for allowing him to come and watch the Red Devils in training when he was a young, aspiring boss out of work.
It meant a lot and is something he'll always cherish as he looks to build his own legacy in claret and blue.
He added: "I know Sir Alex pretty well. I watched Man Utd train when I was out of work.
"I have rung him before for advice too. He's always been very courteous and very good with me.
"If you're asking someone at the top of the tree, he's the best. He gives good advice to a lot of people.
"But in terms of the job he has done, I don't think that will ever be done again. You would love to know how he's done it.
"I think he had a hard time at the beginning at Man Utd but the rest is history. What he has done is nothing short of remarkable. I don't think anyone will do that again.
"Who's going to do that? He has surpassed everything that anyone can do in football.
"He has won Premier Leagues, Champions League, FA Cups...he has won virtually everything."
For the moment, though, Lambert isn't concerned about these major honours.
He just wants three precious points from his fellow Scot.
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AVTV DON'T MISS
Gabby Agbonlahor could make an immediate return to the side for the Man Utd clash.
Speed demon Agbonlahor missed the Fulham clash with a groin injury.
But he's trained the last few days and Lambert must not make a decision on his availability.
He also has a decision to make on his centre-back pairing.
Nathan Baker has stepped in for Ciaran Clark but the stand-in skipper is now fit again.
Villa will be wearing their away kit of lime green.
Villa have taken ten points out of the last available fifteen and won their last two away matches.
Gabby Agbonlahor needs one goal to eclipse Dwight Yorke's club record of 60 in the Premier League.
Christian Benteke has scored ten goals in his last thirteen league appearances.
Man Utd have scored in 65 successive Premier League home matches since a 1-0 defeat by Villa in December 2009.
The Red Devils need to win their remaining five matches to eclipse Chelsea's top-flight record of 95 points, set in 2004-05.
Go to full match coverage for Man Utd 3 - 0 Aston Villa (21st April 2013) >
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