I like Paul Lambert quite a bit. I think the contract extension was a smart move. I like the way he handles transfers. And yet, I find a few aspects of his leadership to be infuriating. The first is how he handles substitutions, the second is how he handles injuries.
And we've got yet another great example of his totally messing up the latter: Jores Okore. You may remember the Danish defender as the player who came in with plenty of hope last season and hurt his ACL, thus ending that hopeful season. Then we heard he might be back in April. And then he played this summer. And then he was selected to a few match day squads and has played in several U21 matches. And yet...
"He's played U21 football but I'm not quite sure he's too ready to go into this environment (first-team football in the top-flight) just yet."
That's what Paul Lambert thinks of Okore currently. He's not ready to go into Premier League yet, despite the fact that he has been CHOSEN FOR MATCHDAY SQUADS.
He was the only reserve centre back selected in the Liverpool and Arsenal matches. He's not ready for league play yet, but he's okay to come in if random-but-seemingly-inevitable-injury happens against two of the best teams in the league. Okay Paul, whatever you say.
If Okore isn't ready, why is he getting chosen? And if he's not ready, how is he being made to be ready? You may remember a Villa defense that was superb in their first four matches. In the four since then, though, they've allowed 11 goals, or 2.75 per match. Can Okore really screw things up that much at this point?
Few things have frustrated me as much as an Aston Villa fan as the seemingly senseless way in which Paul Lambert handles players returning from injury. There may be perfect logic behind decisions, but since everyone is so close-lipped about things, I'm forced to work with the data I have on hand. And that data points me to one conclusion: this club is stupid.