One City favourite could tonight take the heat firmly off another as speculation first continued to mount and then all-but ended regarding Burnley’s interest in Canary boss Paul Lambert.
City being City – or Canary fans being Canary fans – and news that the club had officially rejected Burnley’s equally official approach for the services of Lambert last night failed to dampen fears that their manager would be off.
It proved a long day; one in which the doubts, the questions lingered.
That money would talk; that he would be off; that City’s best-laid promotion plans would be de-railed by the Lancashire side – still bank-rolled by those Premiership parachute millions.
Whatever Lambert might have said at this morning’s Press conference ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup clash with Leyton Orient, the fear that he was about to up sticks and disappear hadn’t wholly disappeared.
Tonight and the City boss appeared to bang a final nail firmly into that particular coffin was a further statement issued on the club website.
“I can’t stop speculation linking me with other clubs,” Lambert told the official site.
“But I’ve said on numerous occasions before that I am happy here and that is still the case.
“We’ve got a job to do here,” he added. “Starting with an important cup match with Leyton Orient tomorrow – and that’s what I want everyone to be focussing on.
“I want to put the speculation to bed –I never had any intention of going elsewhere and nothing has changed. All the speculation is wide of the mark and, hopefully, now the rumour mill about the Burnley job can focus elsewhere.”
As it duly did.
For what might give Canary fans even greater hope that it was ‘Panic over!’ were the words of Clarets legend Andy Payton – who was touting the claims of ex-Canary favourite and his ex-Bhoys pal Malky Mackay for the vacancy at Turf Moor.
The suggestion that they should turn their attention to the Watford chief will be warmly welcomed by everyone in Norfolk – leave our Lambo alone would be the message from everyone from owner and board down this evening.
“Malky was a very sensible type of guy and I wasn’t surprised that he went on to become a manager,” Payton told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph this evening, after the Clarets continued their search for a replacement for the sacked Brian Laws.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe was another mentioned in despatches; he, it appears, has further fans in Crystal Palace.
Mackay, however, might fit the bill as the Hornets continue to do their best in some very trying financial circumstances.
Payton was willing to draw some comparisons with another Scot – and not Lambert. A man who – legend insists – was Peter Grant’s preferred choice as Canary first team coach.
“Dare I say it, but I can see the similarities with Owen Coyle,” Payton told the paper, as the Canaries vowed ‘tooth and nail’ to keep Lambert at the helm.
“Owen was unbelievably enthusiastic and I think Malky is too,” he added.
“You want someone who can get results and Malky has done that at Watford. He has done a great job there.
“They are in the play-off places and it’s not so long ago that they were talking about relegation at Watford. I think he would be a very good candidate.”
This morning and Lambert’s response to the inevitable questions was short and to the point.
“You have seen the statement and I am happy with that,” Lambert told the Press.
“It’s all about the game tomorrow and trying to get through that. I’ll say it once and once only – ask me about the game.
“That is all I am here for. To win a game of football. Don’t push me on anything because the statement is there.”
Clearly, it was a distraction he could have done without.
Tonight and courtesy of that second statement, the hope was that the subject was done and dusted; as far as Burnley were concerned ‘There was nothing to see here… Move on… End of…