The changed football landscape meant that clubs like Norwich could never again compete at the very top of the English game on equal terms. But, there are no other clubs exactly like Norwich, with fans who stay so loyal and so passionate in the third tier. Certainly there are no managers quite like Paul Lambert…
“People say staying up is success, and I can understand that and agree but I don’t want the players to think that is enough. I want to drive them on. Sir Alex Ferguson must have a bad back, from lifting trophies but he still wants more. So I want to be at that sharp end, where you can win things.”
Those who warned that he would need men with Premier League experience in the top division should think about the Sunderland defence who were so bemused and confused as Norwich City constructed that Barcelona-esque second goal against them…
I don’t expect anyone – not one person – to agree with this column, but if I only write populist stuff on this site, I’d there would be no point in contributing. You can get your fill of one-eyed jingoism on message boards….
De Laet will be one of the Premier League’s top performers this season. I saw enough of him in pre-season to be certain of that. He is a pro-active defender, blisteringly quick, intelligent and with a healthy hatred of ceding an inch.
“It will be extremely tough, we know that, and I’m not going to make a rash prediction but we are going to enjoy it and if we can stay in the league it will be incredible…” Lambert tells FourFourTwo Magazine.
I spoke to Worthy recently. He was full of praise for Lambert and genuinely full of hope and support for Norwich. But he believes that, if he had been allowed to buy Dean Ashton in the summer instead of in the January, City would have stayed up. The board, at that time, reasoned differently. They wanted funds in reserve for the January window.
The fact that Lambert’s City have never suffered back-to-back defeats is not a statistical anomaly or a happy co-incidence. And all those last-gasp goals were not a fluke or a freak. Lambert’s City bounce back from reverses and don’t know when they are beaten because of sort of players he signs and the positive changes he makes when a win is still possible.
In the five years I have contributed to this website I have tried to use my columns to address long-term, strategic issues. This time, indulge me. I need to write about one game: one moment in the long history of a famous club from a fine city. Strewth, it was magnificent…
I thought City’s display at Barnsley was a new high-point, because the team put in the hard yards to make their dominance total. But that marvellous manifestation of Lambert’s ethos was eclipsed by the splendour of what occurred at the Walkers.
It was not the sort of triumph that leads to an open-topped bus parade, but perhaps it should have been recognised by some sort of celebration, because at this year’s AGM chairman lan Bowkett admitted that, without that rescheduling: “We would not be standing here today…”
Our Scot has more tricks than Paul Daniels. In three decades of watching the best teams all over the world, I had never seen any coach use five different formations during one game until Lambert did it against Sheffield United…
The team spirit the pugnacious Scot has fostered and his tactical awareness have made it a joy to watch our team. In particular, his fondness for the use of attack-minded players in bold substitutions has cheered the soul and harvested the points.
Now, with Surman injured, Lappin is first choice. He cannot assume he will remain first pick. But, as he has demonstrated amply, he has the character and ability (and, yes athleticism) to prove people wrong.
It is a division in which the cliché about anyone being able to beat anyone else “on their day” is accurate. I think Bellamy will give Cardiff numerous good days, but I think Lambert and Holt will give us enough, as well.
Fry’s appointment is a harmless bit of PR. And the modern-day Oscar Wilde responded by immediately putting the club’s badge on his Twitter picture. But I think it is much more significant that, seven months after appointing Deloitte to “help the club consider their options”, there is still no sign of major new investment.
There have been many significant milestones along the route back to the Championship but the trip to Adams Park on the second day of 2010 was surely the first moment when Paul Lambert’s troops were able to see where the road ahead might lead.
Norwich fell flat on their face at the start of the marathon, staggered a bit when they picked themselves up, but then put in an extraordinary effort during the hard miles and are entering the final straight as clear leaders. The pack are chasing and Norwich might falter a bit. So we have cheer them over the line.
After taking ten points from the first nine games of the season, City have harvested a truly astonishing 65 from the subsequent 26. That is an average of 2.5 points a game, and that is more than a geeky stat. It is a valid measure of excellence. An average of two points a game is normally regarded as promotion form.
It wasn’t very gracious, perhaps. And I know I’ve spent a good few years extolling the virtues of Norwich being an upright, socially responsible club. But seeing our manager being a not-particularly-good winner was much more fun than all those seasons of trying to be a good loser.