Premier League

Lambert: No big-money deals

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Mon, 28 Jan 2013 12:05:00

Napoli are perfectly poised to challenge league leaders Juventus for the Serie A title, according to Azzurri head coach Walter Mazzarri.

Parma surrendered the only unbeaten home record in the top flight on Sunday as Edinson Cavani salvaged an invaluable 2-1 win for Mazzarri's men.

Returning captain Paolo Cannavaro undid Marek Hamsik's opener with an unfortunate own goal but Cavani's late strike saw Napoli win to narrow Juve's lead to just three points.

The Bianconeri visit the San Paolo on March 1 but Mazzarri stressed the importance of staying on Juve's coat-tails over the four games that come before.

He told La Repubblica: "Now I understand why no one had won here. Compliments to (Roberto) Donadoni's team, it was a difficult game and we did well to bring the result home.

"Can we go all the way? The numbers say yes. We are 15 points better off than we were at this point last season, and we were having a good season then.

"The lads are improving and that gives me a lot of satisfaction."

Cannavaro was able to line up against his old team following a successful appeal against a six-month ban from football, and he was relieved to be on the winning side having allowed Parma back into the game.

"It was a really difficult game and Parma showed just how good they are," he said. "We never closed out the game but we came through it to win due to our strength of character.

"The fans deserve this win and it seemed like we were playing at home.

"The league title? It's not quite open and it's not quite shut, there are a lot of games left. It's just important to be in the mix."

Parma boss Donadoni had not overseen a league defeat at the Tardini since March and he felt aggrieved by the nature of the loss.

He told fcparma.com: "The team played well. The result is a bit too harsh for what I saw out on the pitch.

"After the equaliser we had a great chance with Amauri and then we were a bit stupid in conceding the goal. The team is very unhappy with the result.

"After going one goal down it is difficult to make it up against a team like Napoli that keep the ball a lot and is good on the counter.

"In general it was a good performance. I believe if we continue like this until the end of the season we will be satisfied."

Hughes arrived at Victoria Park with the club rock-bottom of League One and without a win in their previous 16 matches. His first game in charge ended in a 5-0 home defeat to Coventry.

Pools remain bottom after his first 11 games in charge, but Hughes will not give up on his side's survival chances, which have been given a boost with a recent win at Sheffield United and Saturday's 3-1 success at Portsmouth.

"I've had to change my style and approach," Hughes said. "I've come into a team that was suffering from a lack of confidence. There was trepidation in their play, so there was no point coming in with a big stick.

"I've had to let them understand that I've been there as a player and as manager now the only way out is to work very hard and the players have certainly done that.

"I've found it very difficult to put my stamp on the team due to outside factors. If it's not been heavy rain and floods it's been snow and this has affected our preparation, making it hard to get a period of continuity and consistency.

"But there are signs we're getting there. If we can keep a settled side and get a bit of luck to turn draws into wins, confidence will return and we can try and get some momentum going."

Dumped out of both cup competitions by lower league opponents last week, Villa's only remaining target this season is to avoid relegation.

Lambert's side sit just one point above the bottom three, and his reliance on a core of players relatively untried in the Premier League has brought calls from supporters for new, experienced signings.

But with little time left to strengthen his squad, he said: "At this minute there's not much really happening. There's been guys we went for who have gone to other clubs.

"How many players are we short? There's a few. But I knew the remit of the job was to rebuild. To rebuild something you have to strip it right back.

"But if you are asking me if there will be a vast amount of money available during the rest of the transfer window, there won't be."

There could yet be departures this week, though, with both Alan Hutton and Stephen Warnock linked with moves elsewhere.

Lambert said: "There are things going on at the moment on that side of it, but Stephen and Alan are here at the minute until I hear otherwise."

The Scot also repeated his determination to stay in the job, saying: "I can only do, or try to do my best. There's no chance I'd walk away from it. You have to fight like anything to get up.

"You pick yourself up and there's no point in lying down and accepting it.

"I've never had a run like this as a manager or been hit from pillar to post like this. It's an experience you take on board and you use it.

"You can't have everything going your way in your managerial career every single time. You have to take the rough with the smooth and when the rough comes you take it."

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