Lambert refuses to panic
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert says he will not press the panic button - but statistics would suggest he has every right to after his side slipped into the Barclays Premier League bottom three.
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Villa can rightly point to a controversial penalty - converted by Rickie Lambert - leading to their downfall in Saturday's 1-0 home reversal against fellow strugglers Southampton.
But their malaise goes much deeper than referee Mark Halsey awarding a spot-kick against Villa defender Enda Stevens for a challenge on Jay Rodriguez when no contact was made.
In their last 38 league games - the equivalent of a full campaign - Villa have managed just five wins and collected only 30 points - clear relegation form.
They are also seven points worse off now than at the same stage last season under the much maligned Alex McLeish and have the worst scoring and defensive records in the top flight this season.
It is damning evidence that shows their current dire position is more than a blip and that 25 years of continual top flight football is under immense threat.
Lambert's policy of bringing in young and hungry talent, via the £23 million made available to him by club owner Randy Lerner last summer, is now coming under intense scrutiny.
He is in desperate need this month of the kind of funding that saw Lerner splash out £24 million on Darren Bent two years ago to save Villa from the drop but admits he cannot make big money signings.
Lambert said: "You can't panic. There's a long, long way to go. There will be loads of twists and turns in this whole thing.
"We didn't want to be in the bottom three after 22 games but nothing is set in stone in football and you just keep meeting the challenge head on.
"You've just got to keep going. There is no secret formula in football. Better managers than myself will tell you that.
"It is disappointing to lose the way we did via the penalty but that's the way things seem to be going for us at the moment. We are not getting the little breaks you need."
Lambert took solace from a second half performance in which striker Christian Benteke spurned several chances but he will not lay the finger of blame on the Belgium international.
"Effort wise and performance wise, especially second half, was very good. We just couldn't take the chances we created.
"We are getting kicked all over the place at the moment but you just keep battling through it and meet the challenge head on.
"If we keep that effort and commitment up, that's the way to play football."
As regards Benteke's poor finishing, Lambert said: "I'm not going to have a blame culture. You are in it together, you win and lose together.
"On another day, Christian scores. To be fair to the big guy, he's pulled us out of trouble loads of times this year.
"He'll put a few in the back of the net, that's for sure."
When asked if he expects much to happen transfer-wise in January, Lambert said: "It's tough, it's really tough. We know the situation at the club.
"The chairman (Lerner) has been great, very good with me, and we will see what happens."
In addition to Benteke's lack of finishing power, Villa defender Nathan Baker headed against the bar but they could not find an equaliser and the midlands club have now taken only one point from the last 15 since the win at Liverpool.