Wednesday media watch [15.01.14 AM]: Lambert/Holt in focus
Birmingham Mail: Paul Faulkner insists Aston Villa are pleased with their Premier League progress this season after hailing the board's strong relationship with manager Paul Lambert. Faulkner admits there have been "ups and downs" during the current campaign but is pleased that Villa are higher placed and with more points than at the same stage last year. Villa have picked up 23 points from 21 matches and are 11th in the table. Last season they had 19 points and were 16th in the table after the same amount of games. "There's been ups, there's been downs," said Villa's chief executive. "I think one of the key measures that we look at is there's very clear definite progress from last year, certainly in terms of where we were sat this time last year in the league and points-wise. "As we get into that second half of the season we're trying to look upwards. I know that it's very close the bottom 10 or 11 clubs, it's very very tight down there. "But certainly we've had some good results and performances, beating Arsenal at the Emirates, Man City here at Villa Park. Some other good results as well. Southampton was a great result. "We've got a lot of reasons to be positive going into the second half of the season now."
Daily Express: Paul Lambert's job is not under threat at struggling Aston Villa with chief executive Paul Faulkner saying he trusts the manager. Villa lost at home again on Monday, their seventh league defeat at Villa Park this season coming on the back of losing to League One Sheffield United in the FA Cup. But Faulkner says that both he and chairman-owner Randy Lerner are backing Lambert to get it right. "You trust the manager and you let him get on with it, absolutely," said Faulkner. "You have that trust, it's key to any working relationship. Then you don't just let him get on with it, you work together to make it happen. "It's about supporting him, everyone having a common goal, trying, in a very tough business, to find some strength from that. It's how we keep taking those strides forward and making this club better and stronger again."
ESPN: Aston Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner has given his backing to manager Paul Lambert, as the club battle to steer clear of the Premier League relegation places. The move to hand Lambert transfer funds in the January window provided confirmation that he still has the backing of club owner Randy Lerner, yet results need to turn quickly if Villa are to avoid being dragged into the bottom three. Lambert's side have won just once in their last eight matches and suffered a disappointing FA Cup exit at the hands of League One side Sheffield United. Faulkner has called for calm ahead of Saturday's trip to face an in-form Liverpool side at Anfield.
Daily Mirror: Randy Lerner is giving Paul Lambert his full support. Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner says there has been "definite clear progress" at the club since Lambert took charge in June 2012. Villa came 15th last season - despite some humiliating beatings - with 41 points, after finishing 16th with 38 under Alex McLeish a year before. Now the Midlands club, owned by American Lerner, sit 11th with 23 points and six clean sheets this term. Lerner's right-hand man Faulkner, who also sits on the FA Council, said: "Football is a harsh, brutal business. Criticism and stick goes flying about. But being in the middle of it, you have to stay strong together and support each other.
Daily Star: Aston Villa have told fed-up fans the club is sticking with manager Paul Lambert. The Villa boss has been given the board's full backing to rebuild the club. Chief executive Paul Faulkner says Lambert retains the faith of both himself and American owner Randy Lerner. The manager has been responsible for slashing around £10m a year off the wage bill with a no holds barred clear-out of some of the clubs biggest earners. Internationals Darrren Bent, Stephen Ireland, Shay Given, Alan Hutton, Richard Dunne, Stephen Warnock and Barry Bannan have all been shipped out as Lambert sets about his re-building programme. And Faulkner says disgruntled fans should realise that there is no short-term fix.
FourFourTwo: Aston Villa have completed the loan signing of Grant Holt from Wigan Athletic until the end of the season. The 32-year-old forward previously impressed in the Premier League for Norwich City under the guidance of current Villa boss Paul Lambert. Holt joined Wigan from Norwich in the close season, but has found games and goals hard to come by for the Championship outfit, scoring just twice in nine league starts and seven substitute appearances. Lambert is delighted to have boosted his forward line, with Libor Kozak having been ruled out for the remainder of the season earlier this month after breaking his leg in training.
Daily Mirror: Aston Villa have completed the signing of Wigan striker Grant Holt on loa nuntil the end of the season. The 32-year-old arrives at Villa Park having previously worked with Villans boss Paul Lambert at Norwich and follows Libor Kozak's broken leg which the former Lazio striker sustained during training.
Birmingham Mail: Grant Holt has spoken at his excitement at being thrown a Premier League lifeline by Paul Lambert after joining Aston Villa on loan from Wigan until the end of the season. Holt agreed a short term switch from Championship club Wigan after being earmarked by Lambert as the ideal targetman to provide cover for injured Libor Kozak. The well-travelled striker is looking forward to being reunited with Lambert at Villa Park having enjoyed three seasons of success under the Scottish manager at Norwich. Holt helped the Canaries to back-to-back promotion and Premier League consolidation, scoring 17 goals in 34 appearances in Lambert's final season at Carrow Road in 2011-12. He has been recruited to help Nicklas Helenius and Jordan Bowery put pressure on Christian Benteke after Kozak's season was cut short by a broken leg sustained in training.
Birmingham Mail: Paul Lambert is confident Grant Holt will make an impact at Villa Park after kicking off Aston Villa's January transfer business with a loan deal for the "tried and trusted" targetman. Lambert reckons Holt has unfinished business with the Premier League after bringing in the 32-year-old Wigan Athletic striker on a short term deal until the end of the season. Holt enjoyed the best form of his career under Lambert at Norwich City and has been recruited on a temporary basis to boost Villa's attacking options with Libor Kozak out with a broken leg .
TalkSPORT: Former Aston Villa striker Tony Cascarino believes Grant Holt can prove his doubters wrong at Villa Park. The Wigan striker has agreed a loan deal with Paul Lambert's side until the end of the season - as the Scot looks to improve his options in front of goal. And ex-Holte End favourite Cascarino claims the 32-year-old's arrival will inspire the Villans in their batle to move clear of the relegation dogfight. "Grant is joining a great club," he told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show. "It [his arrival] will give everyone a lift. "It's the sort of signing that's going to make Aston Villa fans think 'wow, is this what it has come to'? But they have to remember Grant was scoring quite a few goals up until a year or so ago. He also got himself close to the England team."
Sky Sports: Steven Defour is to tell Porto he wants to leave, with Anderlecht favourites to claim the midfielder's signature. Defour's agent Paul Stefani has told the Belgian media that the 25-year-old is anxious to move and secure regular first-team football - given he has started just six games so far this season. Aston Villa are known to be keen, and Stefani says they may yet launch a bid - but he predicts a move to Anderlecht is more likely.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini says he wants to mark his debut season in England by securing all four trophies they are competing in. City are second in the Premier League table, lead West Ham 6-0 in the Capital One Cup semi-final and face Barcelona in the Champions League last 16.
Sky Sports: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the full backing of the Cardiff board, with the club planning long-term with him at the helm. Despite being in the job for a matter of weeks - and having lost his first Premier League game in charge - the Bluebirds believe they have found the right man to take them forward.
BBC Sport: Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen says the club have had an offer for midfielder Ravel Morrison rejected by West Ham United. Meulensteen knows the 20-year-old former Manchester United player well from his coaching days at Old Trafford.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.