Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has backed Paul Lambert to bring sustained success to Aston Villa.
The end of the 2010-11 season saw Rodgers lead Swansea to promotion to the Premier League from the Championship along with the Scot at Norwich.
The Northern Irishman is expecting the latest in some “terrific battles” when the sides meet on Saturday, and also hailed Villa’s young players.
“You’re starting to see the fruits of his labour in the last few weeks. It’s a very difficult job to go into,” Rodgers told the club’s official website.
“He was at Norwich and we had some terrific battles over a couple of years, and we speak reasonably regularly. We shared the same upbringing – coming through the Championship and then strides into the Premier League, where we both want to stay.
“He’s done a terrific job. He’s trying to recreate and build something there based on hard work and honesty.
“The young players that I’ve seen come through – like Barry Bannan, Chris Herd and Ciaran Clark, players that have come through the system – he’s trying to give them an opportunity and you’ll see them get better as the season goes on.”
Liverpool host Villa on the back of both sides winning their previous outings and, ahead of the game, Rodgers says he sees similarities between himself and the former Celtic midfielder.
He added: “It’s going to be a difficult game. He and I like to have a work-rate and intensity in our teams so that the worst case scenario you get is effort and commitment if you’re not quite at your best with the ball.
“They have changed their system over the last few games to 3-5-2 and that seems to have worked well for them. But we’re at home and we’ve got possibilities now in our home games, we’ve got confidence. We know it will be tight but it’s a game we look forward to and hopefully win.”
“Paul is a fantastic manager but it takes time. He came in after Alex [McLeish], who had gone there and kept them in the league,” the boss added.
“They have moved out players and are reliant on a lot of the younger players – that’s not easy. Everyone talks about young players but even top young players can struggle.
“It was always going to take time for him to put his methods across and create the culture that he wanted. Sometimes that can take up to six months when you’re trying to build, especially if you don’t feel it’s there.
“But you’re starting to see that the young players are starting to have the ethos that Paul wants. In the second half of the season they’ll push on and he’ll do very well with them in his time there.”