The conundrum with Paul Lamberts Norwich City last year went along the following lines:  You see that your premium midfielder of, say, Nani is on the bench being “rested”, you look towards your own fantasy premier league bench and see that Andrew Surman, who the week before scored a goal and an assist and took all the corners and the majority of free kicks to come on and bag you some points.  For some unknown reason though Paul Lambert has rotated him and its nil poit all round. Arghh….  This is despite the fact that Norwich aren’t in Europe and are out of the FA and Carling Cup.  So why rotate?  It makes no sense!  Never has such a smorgasbord of quality value midfielders, who consistently perform well,  left out virtually every second week irrespective of form.  It made for virtually the entire Norwich team, Grant Holt apart, (well Lambert was a tinkerer, he wasn’t crazy, Holt was a cut price revelation last year) as unworkable in fantasy premier league.  You just couldn’t pick them in fantasy premier league due to his rotation policy.

By way of  background, the 42 year old Scot has seen an impressive playing career with Celtic and Borussia Dortmund followed by a successful management career with Livingston , Wycombe and Colchester. His management career has culminated in a hugely successful spell at Norwich where he guided the club to successive promotions from league 1 to the premier league.  His first season in the premier league was a major success with the team finishing 12th.  They won many admirers for their attacking style and Lambert gained many plaudits for success on a low budget and bringing unknown players through the divisions.  A draw away to Liverpoool and a win at Spurs also did his reputation no harm.  In addition Grant Holt was a revelation.  However, apart from the 3 relegated teams they conceded more goals than anyone except QPR and Wigan. No fantasy premier league manager would hold a Norwich defender for any other reason than price.


From a fantasy premier league perspective then what does the upcoming season hold for Aston Villa with Paul Lambert. The interesting point is that you have a manager of a team with an attacking philosophy taking over a team who scored less goals than anyone last year except Stoke and we all know they were too preoccupied with kicking the opposition.  The defence however performed better than most in the bottom regions of the table. So will Lambert be able to improve the attack stats while not upsetting the prospects of a reasonably solid defence?  There are so many other unanswered questions. Will he also look to bring through the youngsters as his predecessor was forced to.  Will Villa suddenly be packed full of former Port Vale and Doncaster Rovers players as Lambert did at Nowich.  Will he just name his team after randomly picking names out of hats like he seemed to do at Norwich.  No one knows the answers to these questions at the moment apart from Lambert himself which is why I, as a fantasy premier league manager, will be giving villa players a wide berth.


The one advantage he will have is Darren Bent.  Forget his rather donkey like reputation, from a fantasy premier league perspective the man is a proven goal scorer and goals mean bonus points seemingly whether you’re involved in the play generally a la Wayne Rooney or a tap in merchant like Jermaine Defoe.  He may also be good value this year due to injury and poor form.  Like him or not as a footballer the man has scored 147 goals in 346 games in his career.  His record for Sunderland was 32 goals in 58 games and even for 2 pretty negative managers at Villa it was 18 in 38 games.  He’s worth monitoring even if no one else is and hopefully Lamberts attacking style will get the best out of him for us fantasy premier league managers willing to take a punt.  A reasonable set of opening fixtures could make bent a  worthwhile fantasy premier league bet for the brave.  Me, Ill be just monitoring.