Belfast Telegraph

Lambert not feeling Villa pressure

Under-fire boss Paul Lambert has dismissed suggestions he is feeling the pressure at goalless Aston Villa after another defeat.

They slipped to a 2-0 loss at home to Liverpool on Saturday and have not scored in eight hours and 42 minutes of action.

Villa are the lowest scorers in the Barclays Premier League with just 11 goals in 22 games and have won just twice in their last 18 league games.

But Lambert, who won the Champions League as a player with Borussia Dortmund in 1997, insisted he knows how to handle the heat.

"Listen, if you saw me before the European Cup final that was pressure," he said, after Villa drew a fifth straight league blank.

"I thought my a*** was going to fall out of my shorts.

"No, no. Pressure? High-level football? I'm fortunate, I've been at the top level playing in European Cup finals and things like that, so pressure is part and parcel of my nature. It's part and parcel of the game of football.

"You have to handle it. I'm strong enough to handle it."

Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert won it for Liverpool to underline Villa's struggles although a planned protest, against chairman Randy Lerner and Lambert from the home fans, failed to make an impact.

The supporters may be unhappy, yet there were only muted chants against Lambert, and the manager insisted the club cannot compete on the level it used to.

He said: "This club has been embroiled in major things - European Cups, league titles, all that sort of thing.

"The '82 team is probably the greatest side this club will ever see. Those guys will quite rightly always be well respected at this football club for what they achieved.

"But now it is what it is. I don't moan about it."

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight games in all competitions as they begin to hit top gear following a slow first half of the season.

Manager Brendan Rodgers believes his side have finally rediscovered their identity.

"We've played about 65 games now and when we've been in front we've never lost a game. I felt that with our control we can go on," he said.

"We've good resilience and we saw glimpses of our identity that have come back.

"You have to expect Villa to perform at some time, the likes of (Christian) Benteke and (Gabby) Agbonlahor can make it very difficult.

"But the players remained calm and strong and when they had to defend they got in good blocks."

Borini netted his first Liverpool goal in almost two years and Lambert scored just his third goal of the season to wrap the game up.

And Rodgers praised the striker who has failed to fire since a move from Southampton in the summer.

"I'm so pleased for Rickie. For a Liverpool boy to come on away from home and score in front of your own supporters must be a special feeling," he said.

"There is a spotlight on him which is unfortunate because of the unavailability of other players.

"But he was always brought in to perform a role which was to play in games and come on and make an effect."

And Rodgers has sympathy for Lambert as Villa's season continues to stutter.

"Very much so. I have a lot of empathy for every manager, but in particular Paul. I have a lot of time for Paul," he said.

"We came through the Championship together, got promoted together and were appointed at the same time.

"He is trying to develop young players, expectancy here is probably very high but he does not have the finances here to compete."

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