Time for a reality check - Lambert
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has called for a reality check after insisting every aspect of the club is improving following a difficult last season.
The 2012-13 Barclays Premier League campaign was a transitional one for Villa in their first year with Lambert at the helm.
They struggled against relegation throughout as a team largely built from inexperienced young players and unproven budget buys found their feet at elite level.
Despite Villa starting this season much more brightly and currently sitting 11th having already played five of the so-called 'big six' sides, some sections of the media and supporters are questioning the performances of Lambert's men recently.
The Scot, however, has little time for such criticism despite overseeing a drab goalless draw with Sunderland on Saturday.
"We're sitting 11th at the moment and there are some big clubs down below us," he said.
"It's about how you look at it. People can have a negative perspective of it but our points tally is a lot better than it was at this point last year.
"Everything about us is better than it was last year.
"We're sitting 11th at the minute and the crazy thing is that if you look at it, we're five points off Tottenham, who are regarded as one of the 'big ones' and expected to have a good go at winning the league.
"The game on Saturday wasn't great entertainment, put it that way. And we were the home team. But you've got to have a bit of realism.
"You can only play as well as the other team let you and we just didn't get going enough to create chances.
"Whereas in the second half against West Brom in our previous match we looked great and as if we could score. On Saturday it didn't happen.
"If you can't win a game, then don't lose it.
"That might have been a game we would have lost last year at certain times. We know we can create a lot more chances than we did on Saturday, especially at home, but you've got to give Sunderland credit."
Lambert's side travel to high-flying Southampton on Wednesday evening to face an in-form side sitting seventh in the table and just two points off the top four.
"They've done really well," said the Villa boss.
"They're a good side but I've always thought that, from when Alan Pardew had them in League One, then Nigel Adkins and now Mauricio Pochettino.
"The thing is sustaining it.
"I still expect the usual sides will be up there at the end of the season. Southampton have started the season really well.
"They brought in some big players and we have to go down there, get a foothold in it and take the game to them, which we'll try to do."