Paul Lambert has been given the ‘dreaded vote of confidence‘ by Aston Villa chairman, Randy Lerner.
Villa’s struggles have been well-documented in recent weeks; the 8-0 drubbing by Chelsea, the embarrassing League Cup exit to Bradford, the steady slip towards Premier League relegation.
It is no wonder, therefore, that much speculation has centred on the uncertainty of Lambert’s future.
However, Lerner is quoted as saying: “Paul has achieved success at many levels and I believe, given support, he will continue to do so for us.”
Reassuring words, no? On the face of it, the statement carries a message of approval, suggesting Villa’s hierarchy are backing their under-fire coach.
Yet, in football speak, the phrase ‘vote of confidence’ is somewhat contradictory.
My misspent youth consisted mainly of wasting away the days in the simulation world of Championship Manager.
After guiding hometown club Oxford United through the divisions and onto European glory, I endured a difficult spell of bad results. Nevertheless, I was relieved to learn my chairman had expressed a vote of confidence in my abilities.
How nice, I thought, that he’s showing such loyalty, dismissing the critics and sticking by his man.
I was then notified that I’d been sacked with immediate effect.
In the real world, Sam Allardyce is also aware that public support from top brass is actually shorthand for ‘you can soon collect your p45.’ In 2008, he was sacked by Newcastle United. Two years later, ditched by Blackburn Rovers.
On both occasions, new owners had recently taken over the clubs. And both had publicly praised Allardyce before swiftly giving him the boot.
Contradiction in terms
It fascinates me that a ‘V.O.C.’ seems to actually imply ‘we’re looking at alternative options for the managerial post but, in the meantime, we’re stuck with this guy.’
If everyone knows the implied meaning and it’s universally referred to as the ‘dreaded‘ vote of confidence, why bother releasing such contrary statements at all? Inevitably, they only ever increase pressure on the man in question.
I guess chairmen roll out these old lines in a vain hope that they might inspire a turn in fortunes. In reality, though, few coaches will ever survive a vote of confidence, and I am quite confident of that.
Paul Lambert, meanwhile, probably isn’t so sure that he’ll remain in employment past next week.