On the second of June 2012, I'm sure many Villa fans suddenly became very optimistic about the future of the club. It had been quite turbulent at Villa Park to say the least since Martin O'Neill left five days before the 2010 Premier League season kicked off. O'Neill left a revolving door behind him as Kevin Macdonald, Gérard Houllier, Gary McAllister and of course, Alex McLeish followed the Ulsterman at Aston Villa. Results were up and down, no manager appointment seemed to inspire a Villa team which had been ravaged by transfer sales to larger, more successful clubs. The playmakers of O'Neill's era - James Milner and Ashley Young had left the club for fame and fortune at the two Manchester clubs. Villa needed a spark.
So back to the summer of 2012. Alex McLeish had been dumped the moment the season had ended and rumours had been flying around about his replacement all summer long. Villa seemed to flirt with Molde FK's Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Wigan Athletic's Roberto Martínez. Another name flung around by fans was Norwich's Paul Lambert, and this name became more and more focused upon as the 'frontrunners' for the role dropped out. Paul Lambert was named manager of Aston Villa on the second of June 2012. A wave of optimism flooded the club as 'Lambert's Lions' entered the 2012 season. Had they finally found their guy? Would Lambert be the man to guide Villa back into the top half of the table?
99 games, 2 and half years later and I am still not sure that question can be answered honestly. Whilst Lambert hasn't been a horrible manager, he has struggled with bland tactics and a playing style that can sometimes come down to 'belt it and run'. There have been some very good games under Lambert such as a 6-1 victory against Sunderland and a 3-1 against Arsenal as well as coming back against Albion to win 4-3. But for every win, there seemed to be a game where Villa could not even record a shot on target.
If I could define Lambert's Villa reign with one word, it would be 'inconsistent'. The good victories have been followed by demoralising defeats and vice-versa. It's been 99 games and it still seems as if Lambert is still finding his feet at the club.
So, here's to another 100? Maybe?