Aston Villa midfielder Charles N’Zogbia has started to look like a £10million player this season – and revealed his rapport with boss Paul Lambert has boosted him.
The Frenchman endured a difficult debut campaign in claret and blue and infamously tweeted after a match against former club Newcastle just over a year ago that “for the first time in my life I’m not happy playing football.”
But, 12 months later, N’Zogbia has been a player transformed and a better understanding with Lambert than he had with former boss Alex McLeish, who signed him from Wigan, has done the trick.
“Yes, definitely. Communication is good. Before the communication was a bit lost and this manager is fine. It’s good,” said N’Zogbia, when asked he had a better relationship with Lambert than his predecessor.
“It is the manager’s choice if I play and I have to accept that, I can’t argue about it if is what is best for the team. As long as I am involved and we have a good line of communication then there is no problem.
“All I have to do is accept his decisions and work hard in training.
“For me that (last season) was another time in the past. I am a guy who can really look forward into things and forget about things in the past. For me it was a bad time and I maybe wasn’t happy but now I am happy.
“It (the tweet) was maybe a mistake but everybody can have a bad day and it happens. It’s all about the way you are going to react the next day and that’s it.”
Hard work has always been the order of the day under Lambert and N’Zogbia admitted that players cannot afford to take their foot off the gas and be complacent when they get into the team.
N’Zogbia has, in fact, found himself left out of the starting line-up recently but realises that he must knuckle down to force his way back in.
“If he (Lambert) thinks you are not good or fit enough to play at the time you have to stick to it and work harder,” explained the 26-year-old.
“It is good to have a manager like this. Sometimes you can have a bad game and you know in your head you’re not going to work hard, you know you are going to play (next time).
“But when you know you have a bad game then you don’t play, it makes you think, it makes you work harder. It is better for you.
“He gives the young players who want to play the chance to play and make an impression.
“I remember when I was at Newcastle when I was 18, I got my chance to play because I worked hard. If you do good on the pitch you stay there.
“When I am on the pitch I will do my best for the team and make sure I take my chances when they come.”
One of the theories behind why N’Zogbia struggled to settle in his first season at Villa was that he left behind a very cosmopolitan dressing room at Wigan for one with a more British mentality at Villa.
And the player himself hinted there may have been an element of truth in why it has taken him longer to adjust than expected.
“It is always difficult. You know when you stick to one team you know all the players,” added N’Zogbia.
“When you come to a changing room and you don’t know anybody, you have to get to know them one by one.
“This is a different club and you have here big players and you just have to push yourself to be better.
“For me, Aston Villa is a big club with good players, good fans and all I have to do is be consistent when I play.”