Gabby Agbonlahor is raring to go on the attack after tipping Villa boss Paul Lambert to usher in an exciting new era of entertaining football.
Agbonlahor insists the appointment of fans’ choice Lambert as Alex McLeish’s successor has cranked up the feelgood factor at Villa Park.
“I think it’s great, for the fans especially,” said Agbonlahor. “They wanted Paul Lambert to come to the club and it’s come true.
“It’s been a difficult couple of years for them so at least this will put a smile on their faces and hopefully that can continue throughout the season.
“I think that if you ask any Villa fan they favour us playing attacking football and exciting the crowd.
‘‘It creates a real buzz around the place. For him to be saying we need to bring those things back, I think every Villa fan can be excited.”
Villa were criticised for being too negative under McLeish and Agbonlahor would love to see the claret and blues’ emulate the adventurous approach of Lambert’s Norwich last term.
“The manager succeeded in the Premier League last season with a Norwich side where a lot of the players came up the leagues with him through promotion,” he said.
“Hopefully he can do what he did at Norwich with a team like Aston Villa and there can only be good times ahead really.
“I was quite shocked when Norwich went to the Emirates and attacked Arsenal – where most teams would try and park the bus and look for a quick goal on the counter attack – and were unlucky not to win the game.
“That’s good from Paul Lambert, to have that belief in his team and his players to tell them to go and do that. That’s what every Villa fan, and every player at the club, will love to be able to do and will look forward to.
“There were a few games last season where maybe the fans didn’t see it. That was a bit frustrating.”
Agbonlahor welcomes a return to the optimism levels of Martin O’Neill’s era and praised the claret and blue faithful for mostly sticking with the club during tough times under Gerard Houllier and McLeish.
“There was a lot of attacking football played in past seasons and really good results and we finished sixth in three successive seasons,” said Agbonlahor.
“That’s what fans want to see. They want to see us in that top half of the league and playing attacking football.
“Maybe in some games it won’t come off, but they’ll still be behind the team if we play the way they want us to play.
“Certainly, for myself, the way we have played and performed in the past couple of seasons has been disappointing.
“The previous years of my career we were playing attacking, flowing football and were known as a counter-attacking side because we had such pace and power.
“For this to be coming back to the club, that will really excite the fans.
“On a personal note I’m excited too,” he added. “It’s a new start and a new challenge. With a new manager you want to get yourself lean and ready for the start of the new season. So I’m excited for myself and for a lot of the squad, they’ll be excited as well.”
Agbonlahor believes the likes of Jean Makoun, who has returned to Villa following a season-long loan with Olympiakos, and lesser-used players such as Ciaran Clark might get more opportunities.
“I think when everyone comes back for pre-season everyone starts from the same level.
“Maybe guys who didn’t get a chance under the last manager will get a chance to show what they’ve got. I think for everyone, the squad and the fans especially, it looks like exciting times ahead.”
■ Gabby Agbonlahor is backing the Acorns Children’s Hospice ‘NOW Is The Time’ campaign, which is trying to raise funds for 25,000 days of care ahead of its 25th anniversary in December 2013. To find out more visit www.acorns.org.uk/nowisthetime.