Roy’s Resignation Leaves Lambert On The Ledge

Roy Keane’s departure from Aston Villa this morning might come as a surprise to some but to the majority of Villa fans, the perception will be of a high-profile personality leaping overboard before the ship sinks.

Keane’s career was in a state of rehabilitation and, along with the Ireland assistant manager’s job, his position at Villa was seen as a chance to revitalise his managerial and coaching credentials. Considering that there is no international football for another four months and Villa have three games coming up in eight days, his resignation, therefore, is untimely and arguably, one of self-preservation. And who can blame him. At present, Aston Villa are submerging faster than the Titanic.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Aston Villa v Southampton - Villa Park

Some will point to the fact that two points gained from two tough fixtures against West Ham and Southampton without a handful of their best players is a step in the right direction but these were backs-against-the-wall performances you’d have expected from a League One team in a cup tie, not an ever-present Premier League side and one of the most storied clubs in English football history.

Support amongst the fan base has dwindled to virtually nothing, too. Much has been spoken of the 25,000 who witnessed events at Villa Park last Monday – the lowest crowd in 15 years – and whilst exterior events played a part in such a meagre attendance, the main reason is down to Paul Lambert and his inability to get the most from this and previous squads.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Norwich City v Aston Villa - Carrow Road

It’s only two and a half years since the travelling Villa fans called for the then-Norwich manager to replace his fellow Scot, Alex McLeish. “Paul Lambert’s Claret and Blue Army”, they chanted. Thirty months later and little has changed from those desperate days under the former Birmingham manager. Despite small flashes of quality, the football is, in general, still dire. He has been afforded limited funds to rebuild a squad, it’s true, and injuries haven’t been kind, but every alley he travels down, he meets a dead-end; the most galling aspect of which is that it is mostly of his own making.

His decision-making is becoming increasingly bizarre. It reached peak madness in the Southampton game when, comfortably holding off Saints’ concerted second half pressure, he decided to haul off his defensive midfielder, Carlos Sanchez, for the immobile and frankly overweight, Darren Bent. Minutes later Villa collapsed and just about held out for the draw.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Aston Villa v Southampton - Villa Park

If his in-game management is failing, his tactics and selections beforehand are exasperating. One of the major bugbears of the fan base is his refusal to give playing time to the likes of wonderkid, Jack Grealish, and defensive prospect, Jores Okore. In giving these two game time, it would at least give the supporters something to get behind and cheer on but for reasons only known to himself, he refuses to do so, making a rod for his own back.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Aston Villa v Hull City - Villa Park

If you’ll excuse the self-indulgence for a moment, I have been a supporter of Paul Lambert up until eight or nine weeks ago and believed he would eventually get it right with time. After two and a half years under his tutelage now, I see no reason for that belief anymore. In fact, without his removal or resignation, Villa are on course for relegation. Having escaped it the previous two seasons, whatever luck Lambert had, he has used up and, at present, it looks like Villa are headed in only one direction without some sort of change.

Very few know the real reason behind Roy Keane’s departure but an educated guess would be of a man who realises his future prospects will not be furthered on a sinking ship skippered by a captain who has lost his way.