Paul Lambert offers support to mentor Martin O'Neill

Lambert on 'massive performances'

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert says Sunderland counterpart Martin O'Neill will turn around the fortunes of the struggling Black Cats.

Lambert, who played under O'Neill at Celtic, steered his side to a 1-0 win at Sunderland to leave the Wearside outfit with only one win in 17 games.

"It's a tough, tough job," said Lambert, whose side won courtesy of a Gabriel Agbonlahor effort.

Sunderland deserved better - O'Neill

"But if there's one person who will turn it around, it will be him."

Lambert added: "I have got the utmost respect for the gaffer. I am not in a position to sit here and say I have got one over him or anything.

"It's a game of football I had to win and Aston Villa had to win, and we did it. It's a good three points.

"I thought we deserved it. I thought we were excellent."

Sunderland's defeat came on the back of them being knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Middlesbrough and they were booed off the pitch.

O'Neill admitted his side are struggling to create chances but that the responsibility to find a solution rests with him.

"It's been a difficult week for us, obviously, losing against Middlesbrough and then not scoring here, but we will come through," he insisted.

"We threw just about everything at them to try to get on the scoresheet, but it eluded us today again. But it will turn."

Sunderland were denied a penalty after John O'Shea's glanced header struck the arm of Villa forward Christian Benteke.

"All the players around said it was a penalty," added O'Neill. "The referee has chosen not to give it, that's his prerogative.

"Interestingly, we did have a meeting at the beginning of the season where referees came to speak to us to tell us that if you have your arms in the air, even it's to avoid something hitting your face, then there's the likelihood that they will be giving a penalty.

"It wasn't today."