Lambert in danger

Aston Villa will be looking for their fourth manager in a little over two years unless Paul Lambert can turn his squad around.

Lambert replaced Alex McLeish in June. McLeish was an unusual appointment because he came across from Birmingham to succeed Gerard Houllier, another whose face didn't fit and who lasted eight months.

His side has the worst goal difference in the league after leaking five to Manchester United, eight to Chelsea and four to Spurs.

Fans are suggesting the squad is one of the weakest fielded by the club, although blog venom was aimed at owner Randy Lerner as well as Lambert after the Spurs defeat.

If Lambert wants to do a January reshuffle, it may require funding from the sale of one of his strikers. Darren Bent interests Fulham, and Christian Benteke would attract bids too, although the latter is an unlikely choice for sale given his good form.

Former Chelsea midfielder Raul Meireles, now at Fenerbahce, is at the centre of a bizarre row after a referee said he had spat at him and made a homophobic slur after being red-carded. Meireles, who is facing an 11-match ban, maintains he didn't spit, but told referee Halis Ozkahya he had a "rabo apertado". That apparently translates to "tight arse" and suggests someone is scared. Meireles was sent off with a few minutes remaining in the Istanbul derby win over Galatasaray.

Chris Wood has apparently done an about-face and signed for Leicester rather than Millwall after both clubs agreed fees with West Brom . . . John Ward has been named Bristol Rovers boss until the end of the season.

My Fantasy Football transfer jinx has struck again. As soon as I bought Swansea's outstanding Spaniard Michu, he's picked up an ankle injury . . . long throw expert Rory Delap may look for a January move away from Stoke to get more first-team football . . . former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini is surplus to requirements at AC Milan.

Borussia Dortmund have indicated they will sell Manchester United target Robert Lewandowski in the summer . . . Brad Friedel, 41, has extended his Spurs contract to 2014 . . . the father of Stoke's Charlie Adam, also a Charles, has died at 50. Adam Sr played for Partick Thistle and Dundee United.

Arsenal and Chelsea have been linked with Barcelona's David Villa but his age would seem to make him an unlikely Wenger target. Young Zambian defender Stoppila Sunzu reckons he is an Arsenal target, although reports suggest Reading have already tabled a decent bid with his club TP Mazembe.

Nottingham Forest chairman Fawaz Al Hasawi has sacked Sean O'Driscoll, saying he wants an ambitious boss with premier league experience. O'Driscoll was recruited from Crawley in the summer.

The twist in the tail for a club that signs a player long-term on big money is that he holds the aces when there is a fallout. Jose Bosingwa refused to sit on the bench for QPR earlier this month and Harry Redknapp wants shot of him. But the player is on [PndStlg]65,000 (NZ$127,650) a week and has a three-year contract. Not many clubs will want to match those figures for a 30-year-old.

Adel Taarabt, who wants to move to Old Trafford, and has also been linked with AC Milan, has missed selection for Morocco's African Cup of Nations squad . . . Standard Liege say they have agreed a price with Fulham, thought to be [PndStlg]800,000, for goalkeeper Sinat Bolat . . . The Sun reckons Chelsea will not offer Frank Lampard a new contract.

Weekend fixtures:

England, Sunderland v Spurs, Villa v Wigan, Fulham v Swansea, Man Utd v West Brom, Norwich v Man City, Reading v West Ham, Stoke v Southampton, Arsenal v Newcastle. Sunday, Everton v Chelsea, QPR v Liverpool. Scotland Dundee v Aberdeen, Hibernian v Celtic, Motherwell v Kilmarnock, Ross County v Hearts, St Johnstone v Inverness, Sunday, Dundee United v St Mirren.

Taranaki Daily News