Paul Lambert
Lambert worked magic with Norwich City last term.

Signing evaluation

Amid a miss-mash of new recruits the star name is that of new boss Paul Lambert, one of six new appointments ahead of the new season in the top flight. The Glaswegian took Norwich City to 12th in the Premier League last term and he'll be welcomed with open arms after Alex McLeish left some fans feeling suicidal during parts of last season. The most eye catching signing on the playing side is Ron Vlaar who will add steel to a defence without Richard Dunne for the start of the campaign.

Pre-season form

Lambert has begun like a house on fire at Villa, yielding five wins from seven games, including an 100% win record during the club's brief American tour. After scoring less than a goal a game domestically last season, Villa have netted 12 in their seven pre-season matches, and have been handed the chance to play with a new lease of freedom.

Reasons why they'll be successful

Once the shackles have been firmly removed, Lambert has a talented group of players to work with. Marc Albrighton's return from injury can't come soon enough, while Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor have the potential to forge a fearsome partnership up front. Charles N'Zogbia has a £9m price tag still to justify, while a full season from Barry Bannan should help erase the memories of his own personal night mare last term. Plenty of potential to be unlocked.

Reasons why not

The decline of Shay Given, climaxing with his display at the European Championships, has been an alarming one and comes behind a defence which still appears brittle. Alan Hutton had arguably the poorest season of his career last term, while Stephen Warnock's form has seen his England opportunities disappear. Lambert worked with a similarly cluttered defence last season, but will need to be at the peak of his organising powers.


Having flirted with relegation after accumulating their lowest league points total for 42 years, Villa fans have every right to expect an improvement this season. They will return to Villa Park in their droves, and while they won't expect a complete turnaround in terms of their league position, some good quality football wouldn't go amiss.


No repeat of last season's dour campaign as Lambert continues to sparkle. 11th