Manager contract should wait
Reports surfaced earlier in February that Aston Villa were in the process of discussing a new deal with Paul Lambert, roughly half-way into his existing three-year contact.
I’ve always been among the fans supporting Lambert but his contract should wait. First of all, he has plenty of time on his current deal anyway so at this stage I wouldn’t even be considering a renewal.
Secondly, I’m a firm believer that all contract negotiations, bar those nearing their final few months, should be handled when the season is over. It’s unnecessary to be talking about deals mid-season.
Lambert and the club should be focused on this current campaign, not thinking about the next three years before this one is even over. Leaving it until the summer won’t distract the players then either.
Not only that, but we are technically still in the relegation mix and anything could happen from now until the end of the season (even if nobody realistically thinks going down is an option for us).
Newcastle are a perfect example of a club doing it the wrong way by offering Alan Pardew a staggering eight-year deal just two months into the season – and how it all went wrong for them.
Had they waited till May they would have seen that they finished just two places above the drop zone. Would they have offered him that deal then? Definitely not. Mid-season contracts aren’t sensible.
Winger needs to be signed up
A contract that should be negotiated as soon as possible, however, is Marc Albrighton’s. He has just a few months remaining on a deal that ends this summer but he has more than earned a renewal.
He’s been unlucky with injuries of late and at one stage this season it looked like we wouldn’t see him in a claret and blue shirt again. His loan move was pivotal and he’s come back here in great form.
But he’s been in the news this month with talk of a new contract. In a season of lacklustre performances, he’s been one of the few bright sparks. He should be a regular starter at the minute.
Marc is a local lad, supports the club and graduated out of our youth system. It would be a real loss if we didn’t manage to keep him at the club and might be one of those that comes back to bite us.
‘Bust-up’ talk irrelevant
Matt Lowton’s absence in the team this season caused some raised eyebrows early on. Having missed just one league game last season in an exceptional debut campaign with us, it did feel strange.
He had a slow start to the season and put in a poor performance in the home loss against Newcastle back in September. Since then, Leandro Bacuna has taken his place as the regular right-back.
It did seem harsh at the time. For a player who played so well last season, it felt like he was dropped after one poor game and not given a fair chance since. Bacuna’s own high form didn’t help.
But on his return in recent games he just hasn’t looked his usual self. He seems slow, sluggish, hasn’t played with his normal willingness to overlap and seems out-of-touch with the rest of the team.
Lambert recently denied a bust-up with Lowton after speculation it was the reason for his axing from the squad. He was also disciplined by the club for showing up late to a training session.
I don’t believe in the bust-up talk as dropping players for long periods is not new for Lambert. He simply hasn’t deserved his place in the team and should continue to play second-fiddle to Bacuna.
His recent start against West Ham at home was one of his worst. He hasn’t looked like the same player of last season – although the same could be said about a few others in this side at the minute.
He needs to pick himself up sooner or later as he’s been one of the biggest disappointments in this campaign. He’s gone from ever-dependable to ever-absent in the team and that’s been a real shame.