"Him! I want to sign him!"
This past week has seen Aston Villa sign Joe Bennett from Middlesbrough and Jordan Bowery from Chesterfield. And in addition we've seen Matt Lowton join Villa, links to a few other Football League players and now we have the apparent signing of Crewe Alexandra's Ashley Westwood. All of these purchases have been met with a reaction of "Who?" from many Villa fans. And while I hadn't heard of any of these players previous to the Villa linking, it definitely is not a bad thing.
All you have to do is look at Paul Lambert's record with lower league players at Norwich City.
In July 2010, Paul Lambert signed John Ruddy. While Ruddy was technically an Everton player, he had spent most of his time on loan at lower league English clubs. By the end of the 2011-12 season, Ruddy was in consideration for the England team, and was actually in the Euro 2012 squad until he was injured.
And then there's a player a large amount of Villa fans wanted to sign. Under Lambert, Grant Holt went from a lower league journeyman to a Premier League 15 goal scorer.
In the 2011 summer transfer window, Norwich signed six player from the lower leagues of England. They finished 12th last season. People might say that a club like Villa should be aiming for higher than 12th. But this is a team that finished 2 points above relegation last season. And after the start to this season, I would be thrilled with 12th.
Paul Lambert spent five seasons managing in the Football League. I'm willing to trust his judgement in lower league players, and hopefully the rest of Villa fans will too.