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Lambert believes in Villa project
Published : 03 Sep 2012 15:45:00
Paul Lambert is confident time will prove his Aston Villa blueprint is the right way to go.
The Scot's belief in his new-look side paid off on Sunday when they emerged from a potentially difficult trip to Newcastle with a point which was perhaps slightly less than they deserved on the day. With Jordan Bowery, Joe Bennett, Ashley Westwood and Christian Benteke, none of whom were involved on Tyneside, to add to the mix, Lambert is convinced there is much more to come from a team which will only grow as it knits together. He said:
"I was never good enough that I could play the game without making a mistake myself.
"The lads have been great, I have got nothing but praise for them, especially yesterday, the way they performed.
"It will take time. It's a transition we have to go through and we will take knocks along the way.
"But if we keep doing what we are doing, then we will be fine."
Sunday's draw, which handed Lambert his first Barclays Premier League points as Villa manager, was all the more creditable as it was achieved without the services of Bennett, Benteke, Bowery and Westwood, who were all added to the squad as the summer transfer window drew to a close. Those arrivals, coupled with Gabriel Agbonlahor's return from injury soon to be joined by Marc Albrighton, sent the former Norwich boss into the break for international matches full of optimism.
He said: "Christian will be a big help to us once he comes back from the national team; Ashley, I think, will fit in no problem the way he plays the game and Joe Bennett is a really good player. "I have still got Albrighton to come back, Agbonlahor being back fit is a massive bonus, so the squad is getting stronger, that's for sure."
Former Middlesbrough defender Bennett missed out on a swift return to the north-east through injury, but Lambert believes he, like his fellow newcomers, will provide a new dimension. He said: "He has a slight knock, Joe. Hopefully he will be okay and he will give us great balance, the way he plays the game.
"Benteke will come in - he is only 21, that's what people have to remember. But he will be a handful for teams, and Ashley Westwood is going to be a right top player." The international break will give Lambert and his players time to re-group after a tough start to the season, but they will return to work in positive mood as a result of their efforts on Tyneside. Having dropped the vastly-experienced Shay Given and replaced him with Brad Guzan, the manager saw both the American and the rest of his team-mates rise to the challenge and take the game to their hosts before the break.
They deservedly took the lead through Ciaran Clark's 22nd-minute header, and with Stephen Ireland and Darren Bent causing problems, were a threat throughout. Guzan produced a fine first-half save to deny Papiss Cisse an equaliser and then kept out Yohan Cabaye's free-kick at the death, but in the meantime, he had been beaten by Hatem Ben Arfa's long-range piledriver as the Magpies responded to claim a draw.