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Is Paul Lambert deserving of a new contract at Aston Villa?

The Villans have neither progressed nor regressed this term, with some sections of the Villa Park faithful believing a managerial change is needed

Aston Villa fans will have mixed reviews about how the season has panned out so far, with highlights including a 3-1 win at Arsenal, a 3-2 win over Manchester City, a 2-2 draw at Liverpool and four points from six against arch-rivals West Bromwich Albion.

But while the Villa Park crowd has experienced their fair share of scalps this campaign, the club still find themselves hovering precariously in mid-table as they struggle to break away and reach the upper rungs of the Premier League ladder.

A relegation battle appears unlikely at this stage, but it would require only the slightest of turns in results to leave Lambert and his side vulnerable.

With Lambert reportedly being offered a new deal this week, there are bound to be a few arced eyebrows around Villa Park with plenty of life left in the season and there are large sections of the Villans' support who believe the matter should be discussed at a later date, namely once their top-flight fate is decided.

Lambert was the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons in the FA Cup third-round defeat to Sheffield United after his infamous rant where he questioned both the importance and the integrity of the competition in the contemporary age and instead placed his priority in staying in the Premier League.

His admissions backfired drastically as he saw his side dumped out at the first hurdle courtesy of the Blades' 2-1 win and his comments have come to shape his side's recent lack of progress, acting almost as a marker against which performances can be judged. It would take something to match what was arguably Villa's and Lambert's lowest ebb this term.

It was an unwelcome marker but one which focused the minds of fans, players and manager of the task that faces them for the rest of the year in preserving status as the best-placed Midlands outfit as well as their status in the top division.

Form has been patchy since that dark day at Villa Park - when fans ripped up tickets and threw them at the manager - with defeats to Arsenal and Everton accompanied by positive outcomes against Liverpool and West Brom.

The football played has ventured from functional to explosive - at least in counter-attacking terms - and their home struggles have been born out of the style play adopted by Lambert, with the speedy Gabby Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann far better suited to away days and the space they bring on the break.

It is doubtful Villa supporters would wish to see Lambert leave suddenly when he is seemingly just in the infant stages of a project which holds promise. The likes of Ciaran Clark, Nathan Baker, Matthew Lowton and Ashley Westwood all have tremendous potential and must be supplemented by first-team quality and experience to help them realise their gift.

Lambert can oversee such a transition and ought to be given time to at least carry out his vision while Villa remain safe, but opening contract negotiations amidst relative uncertainty is an odd move on the club's part and one which should be held off until the Scot and the fans recapture a relationship which has descended into a tempestuous one after the cup debacle.

image: © ell brown

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