Aston Villa's Paul Lambert says owner Randy Lerner deserves credit

• Villa manager feels American receives 'unfair criticism'
• Scot wants to stay at club even if they were relegated

Paul Lambert has robustly defended Randy Lerner ahead of Saturday's critical relegation battle against Queens Park Rangers, with the Aston Villa manager claiming that the much-criticised American owner has "done one hell of a lot for this club".

The Villa manager also praised Lerner for being "straight and honest" with him during a season when three of the other bottom-five clubs have sacked their manager. The most recent of those dismissals came on Monday, when Reading terminated Brian McDermott's contract following the 2-1 defeat against Villa. Lambert felt it was a hugely unfair decision and, highlighting the sacking of Nigel Adkins at Southampton a couple of months earlier, criticised a culture where managers lose their job depending on whether their face fits.

Lambert's own position could hardly be more secure, despite the fact that Villa remain only one place above the bottom three. Having met with Lerner on Thursday, Lambert spoke about the strength of his relationship with the Villa owner, who has been criticised in some quarters for not spending more money in January and also for rarely turning up to see matches.

Asked whether he had feared for his position, Lambert replied: "I don't think you worry about it. I've been in the game long enough to know what happens. But I also know that, going by certain things, you don't always have to win games to [avoid] getting the sack. If your face doesn't fit now and people don't like you...

"But I've got a really good relationship with the chairman here. He's always been straight and honest. He's been very good with me. I think Randy gets unfair criticism, I really do, for someone who has done one hell of a lot for this club. He's a good guy."

The former Norwich manager wants to carry on in charge even if Villa are relegated. "I hope [I can continue]. It's a brilliant club. I love being here. But that will be for other people to decide," he said.

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