Premier League

Lambert: No fear of relegation fight

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Mon, 04 Mar 2013 08:47:00

Stoke City boss Tony Pulis has called for some of the club's fans to take a reality check after coming in for criticism.

Pulis has come under fire from some of his own supporters after seeing his side lose to West Ham at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

Stoke have won only one of their last nine Premier League games and Pulis is now finding himself a victim of his own success with supporters frustrated with a perceived lack of improvement.

"You have to accept there is going to be criticism," said Pulis.

"It's such a tough job at this level. The fans want improvement year after year. But someone has to take a reality check now and again.

"I watched Bolton last Tuesday. I saw Wolves play in a relegation fight in the Championship - and Blackburn. Three clubs who've been relegated and we are fortunate to be where we are.

"The problem you have is that the more successful you are in terms of what we have achieved and the size of the club, people want more. But that's life. If you don't accept that, you shouldn't be a manager."

Interim results to December 31 show revenue of ?9.5million, with operating expenses of ?16.6million.

Cash in the bank at the turn of the year sat at ?21.2million.

In December, Rangers raised ?22.2million from its listing on the London Stock Exchange.

In a statement, after the financial figures were published, Ibrox chief executive Charles Green said: "This has been a significant period in the club's history, in which vital steps were taken to ensure the survival and rebuilding of one of the UK's most venerable football institutions.

"The priority for the company to date has been to stabilise the business and put in place solid financial foundations for the future.

"To this end, revenue streams have been enhanced, and costs cut.

"In addition, important strategic steps have been taken, such as the agreements now in place with Sports Direct, Puma and Blackthorn Cider.

"These achievements have been made whilst retaining the important fabric and structure of the club.

"We will continue to execute our growth plan, and investors and supporters can have confidence in the development of operations as the club progresses.

"Undoubtedly, challenges lie ahead but the club is now well equipped to meet them successfully.

"Above all, the club and its supporters are resolute in the belief that, both on and off the pitch, Rangers can look to the future with confidence and pride."

Green's consortium purchased the business and assets of Rangers last summer after the oldco was consigned to liquidation.

A further drop in overall operational costs is expected as part of further cost-saving initiatives.

Rangers expect to report an operating loss at year end in accordance with the business plan and broader growth strategy.

Chairman Malcolm Murray reflected on "a period of extraordinary progress for the club."

He added in a statement: "These interim results cover the seven-month period to December 31 2012 and reflect the fact that the club is successfully rebuilding one of the UK's most renowned football institutions.

"In my 30 years' investment experience, I have never seen a business move from the liquidation of one company to another's successful flotation in such a short space of time.

"This could only have been achieved by the outstanding efforts of management, staff, advisers and fans. This unity and sense of purpose has, rightly, been admired internationally.

"The company's performance to date will give further encouragement to all Rangers supporters who are unswerving in their commitment to ensure the club enjoys a successful future."

The Gunners left White Hart Lane empty handed and some seven points adrift of Spurs after first-half goals in the space of two minutes from Gareth Bale - his 20th of an outstanding campaign - and Aaron Lennon proved enough to seal a home victory.

Arsenal had started the game well and rallied hard after Per Mertesacker replied with a header in the 51st minute, but ultimately the Gunners failed to find an equaliser.

Spurs moved back above Chelsea and into third place, with Arsenal now five points behind the Blues and in real danger of missing out on Europe's top club competition for the first time in the 16 seasons of Wenger's reign.

The Gunners boss, though, feels there will be some more twists and turns yet over the final 10 matches of the campaign.

"It will be a massive challenge, I said before the game that we could not afford to drop points," Wenger said.

"However, I still think it is possible and we will fight for it, that is for sure."

Wenger was left perplexed at just how his side lost a game which they dominated for long spells, but paid a heavy price for a couple of inexplicable defensive lapses.

"It is frustrating because we put so much effort in and lost the game when we were on top, we were 2-0 down when we should have been 2-0 up," he said.

"After, it gave them confidence to defend well, which is what they did for the rest of the game.

"It is difficult to understand how you lose a game like that. We had a great attitude and came out with no points because we were not efficient where it matters, at the front and in the back.

"Also, without being at any moment dominated, the only times Tottenham were dangerous was on counter-attacks. If you are dominated and they create chance after chance, okay you accept it, but this was a strange game to lose."

Wenger, whose side are next in action against Bayern Munich in the second leg of their last-16 clash, added: "It happened to us many times this season and only in big games.

"It's difficult to say why, there's no common thing, in all the games there is a different problem, but after you make it difficult for yourself.

"I cannot fault the attitude or the effort that the team produced, or the spirit the team has shown, but you give yourself a mountain to climb every time in a game of that magnitude."

Villa slipped into the bottom three for the fourth time this season when they were beaten 2-1 at Arsenal last weekend.

But Villa manager Lambert insists his squad are in the right frame of mind for the challenges promised by the next 11 matches.

He said: "The thing we'll see is the players are up for it, that is for sure. I don't see them being frightened or a lack of confidence or anything like that at all.

"I never get a sense on the training ground that it has been really down. I can't argue the last few weeks with the way they've been playing. They've given it a right good go.

"I've not sensed they are scared at all. They've got to embrace the challenge.

"I think if you go the other way you will get frightened by it and I don't think there is any reason to be frightened by it."

Lambert is determined that Villa will come through their current strife and enjoy a brighter future after three years of either flirting with or being directly involved in a relegation battle.

He said: "The club has been in and around it for three years. It's nothing new. But you have to look forward and think you are going to get out of it.

"You have to believe this is going to be a brand new dawn. It has to be, otherwise there's no point being here. You have to change it.

"You have to stay in the league, to keep believing what you are doing is right, keep focusing on your beliefs and I'll never deviate from that."

Lambert admits he is driven on by the challenge of managing in the Premier League rather than the financial incentives of being in the top flight.

He said: "I think the finances in the Premier League are vast and everyone wants to be in the Premier League.

"I don't know look at it and think you want to be in because of financial reasons but because it is the best league, the best stadia. Everything about the Premier League is fantastic."

When asked if players have contracts which are linked to being relegated, Lambert said: "Myself and Randy Lerner (club owner) speak all the time about things. I know exactly what's happened."

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