Saturday media watch [28.12.13]: Swansea match previews
Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert admits his side are 'a million miles away' from where he wants them to be. Having lost the last four games, Villa find themselves just three points above the Premier League relegation zone. On top of that, they have got the worst home record in the division and have scored fewer goals on their own patch than any other side in England. A fierce backlash from infuriated supporters greeted the final whistle of Boxing Day's defeat to Crystal Palace and concern on the terraces is growing ahead of today's Villa Park clash with Swansea. Lambert understands the fans' frustrations but is hoping they stick by their side today and help pull them through.
Daily Star: Paul Lambert has told fed-up Aston Villa fans that he feels their pain. The Villa boss is reeling from another shock home defeat, this time to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day, that has cranked up the heat for today's visit of Swansea. Villa were booed off by their supporters as they were put to the sword by a stoppage-time goal. Lambert has told his men the pressure won't go away and they have to be big enough to stand up and face it. But he has no problem with fans venting their anger after a succession of woeful home results. And he has urged his players to get to grips with the expectation levels and come away with three points from today's clash.
Daily Express: Paul Lambert is reliving the days when he was booed by 60,000 at Celtic to get his team out of their Villa Park slump. Lambert must rally his players and impress an Aston Villa crowd on the verge of revolt by beating Swansea today. No other result will get him and his team off the hook after a dreadful run that is threatening yet another Premier League relegation fight.
Express & Star: Brad Guzan today insisted Villa cannot afford to be "young and immature" in their time of need. The keeper has issued a call to arms with the team on the brink of suffering another winter of discontent. Four straight defeats have raised fears of another Christmas collapse after last season's nightmare. Memories of shipping 15 unanswered goals to Chelsea, Tottenham and Wigan are still fresh and while the goal tally will never be as bad, the damage might be worse. Boxing Day's 1-0 reverse to Crystal Palace left Guzan the only player to emerge with credit having twice saved from Jason Puncheon and turning Barry Bannan's shot into the post. But he was beaten by Dwight Gayle's stoppage-time winner which left Villa three points above the relegation zone ahead of today's visit of Swansea. And the American insisted it is time for the team to shoulder the responsibility and they are good enough to handle the heat.
Daily Telegraph: Paul Lambert is under increasing pressure at Aston Villa but retains the full support of Randy Lerner and will be given money to spend in January. Lambert has suffered four successive defeats and is facing the first signs of mutiny by supporters, with a crucial home game against Swansea City today. But Villa owner Lerner is determined to stick with him and is understood to have given backing to Lambert after the 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day which left the club only three points clear of the relegation zone. Lambert has been planning for the transfer window for weeks and is targeting a creative midfielder, a winger and striker to improve his struggling squad.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman has been instructed by owner Vincent Tan to appoint a new manager after the sacking of Malky Mackay, with the promise of extensive funds for his successor. Mackay was dismissed on Friday after a long-running dispute with Tan.
Sky Sports: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says Liverpool are genuine contenders to become champions for the first time in 24 years - and not just because of Luis Suarez.
BBC Sport: West Brom have ended negotiations with former Real Betis boss Pepe Mel as their search to replace former boss Steve Clarke continues. Clarke was sacked as head coach on 14 December following a fourth straight Premier League defeat.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.