Belfast Telegraph

Lambert 'can restore Villa magic'

Rotherham boss Steve Evans has backed Aston Villa counterpart Paul Lambert to create "something special" at Villa Park.

Evans watched on from the opposite dugout as the Barclays Premier League side cruised into the third round of the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night with a 3-0 win, courtesy of goals from Andreas Weimann, Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph.

It was a far cry from last season's harrowing semi-final defeat to Bradford, and the way Villa have acquitted themselves over the first few games of the campaign - where they have played Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League - has given fans cause for optimism.

Despite being embroiled in a relegation battle last season, Lambert always said he was building for the future and fellow Glaswegian Evans expects that to bear fruit sooner rather than later.

"They have fantastic supporters and I think they are watching something very special getting built here by Paul," the Millers boss said.

"I know him from when he was growing up with holes in his shoes in Glasgow. I think he was a fantastic player, I watched him many times when he played for Celtic and you only need to look at the job he did at Norwich to see how good he is.

"He got a bit of stick when he first came here, but I think you can see what he is about, he has built a young team and he is not afraid to make brave decisions.

"I think he will end up managing one of the top four or five clubs, whether that is in England or Germany where he is highly regarded.

"But he has a lot to achieve here before that because he has found some very talented players.

"When he signed Benteke everyone was saying 'Benteke who?' - now everyone in football knows who he is.

"This is a real big football club that has been struggling for a couple of years but I think everyone in football recognises Paul is making an impact here and he could bring the magical days back."

Villa's win over Rotherham has set up a third-round tie with Tottenham and Lambert has already set his sights on going one better than last season's place in the last four.

"To get to a cup final would be great because you saw the semi-final last year and what it meant to people," he said.

"I know how passionate the crowd is. The club has a huge following, it really has. The club has won the European Cup and there's pressure because it's won major titles and won the league.

"It's won everything. The fans are used to winning."

Last week's Premier League game at Chelsea, played early owing to the west London club's participation in Friday's Super Cup against Bayern Munich, means that Lambert's men have a free weekend and after a testing start to the season he will give his players a few days at home ahead of the international break.

"I might organise another game," Lambert joked. "No, they have done well over the last 10 days so we will give them a few days off."


From Belfast Telegraph