New Canary chief Paul Lambert enjoyed a dream start to his Canary managerial career as Norwich swept Wycombe Wanderers aside 5-2.
This being Norwich, it wasn't without the odd nightmare – both Wanderers goals owed much to horror moments from first Jens Berthel Askou and then Michael Spillane – but having made six changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Brentford in midweek, so Lambert was rewarded with a compelling performance from his new charges.
“I felt the response of the players and the supporters was terrific,” said Lambert afterwards, with two goals from skipper-for-the-day Grant Holt helped the Canaries rack up their first League One win of the season.
Askou made amends for his error with a thumping near post header for City fourth and crucial goal; teenager Korey Smith marked his first Carrow Road league start with the sweetest of strikes for the second; a pin-point Jon Otsemebor header provided the third.
“They were three, excellent goals and then we got a bit sloppy for Wycombe's goals; the second one certainly put us on the back foot. But after that the response was great,” added Lambert, as he starts to discover who his 'big' players are – players who can perform on the kind of 'big' stage that playing in front of 23,000 supporters offers.
“I tell you, it's easily to play in front of 3,000 or 4,000. Players can do that no problem.
“When you come into a club like this and you've got 20,000-odd people, you have to perform week in, week out. And if you're here, that's what I will expect.”
Whether he ever expected his new charges to win at such a canter in the end – and all after making such sweeping changes from mid-week – is another matter. Delivering a solid shape helped; personified in the presence and performance of a recalled Simon Lappin on the left.
“It was brilliant – absolutely brilliant,” said the 40-year-old Canary chief, offering an animated O'Neill-esque figure on the touchline.
“And I'm absolutely delighted with them – every one of them I thought was brilliant.”
He certainly proved from day one that he wasn't one to shy away from big decisions; albeit if a simple and urgent need to see just what he had to play with player-wise might have under-pinned much of his decision-making team-wise.
The same logic will apply to Monday night's team for the Carling Cup visit of Premiership Sunderland; Lambert needs to see people in the heat of battle before deciding whether or not to take advantage of the last seven days of this summer's transfer window.
For as poor as Norwich clearly were in that second-half at Griffin Park in mid-week, few would have expected the new man to ring six changes; for the Norwich midfield to read (right to left) McVeigh, Hughes, Smith and Lappin; for club skipper Gary Doherty to be on the bench; for Michael Nelson, Owain Tudur Jones and Matt Gill to be nowhere.
But it worked.
Whether the fact that the majority of those involved today had emerged mentally unscathed from that 7-1 home defeat against Lambert's Us helped is a possibility; as was the chance to make a point to the new man at the helm.
Either way the Canaries were utterly cruising through the contest come the 35th minute when Otsemebor picked his spot in off the keeper's right-hand upright for City's third goal of the afternoon.
Skipper Holt set the ball rolling with a big, strong prodded finish to a 15th minute Lappin free-kick; Smith drilled a peach in ten minutes later as the former FA Youth Cup skipper sent a superb, 25-yard drive arrowing back goalward following a half-cleared corner.
Askou managed to blot his copy-book with an awful attempt to head a bouncing ball clear; in the event, he got underneath the dropping ball and Jon-Paul Pittman had the easiest of opportunities to stab the ball beyond the suddenly exposed Ben Alnwick.
It was, however, a rare lapse from the home team who looked to have far too much for Wanderers; in virtually every department. Lappin's delivery with his left-foot was making a big difference; as was his ability to keep a disciplined shape away on that left touchline.
With Holt delivering another big, committed performance through the middle – one that suggests he'll wear that skipper's armband lightly – Norwich were, as ever, chalk from the cheese of that disastrous opening day reverse against Colchester. Or at least for half an hour.
Lambert found himself bumping back into Beast again a minute after the restart as Spillane matched Askou clanger for clanger by allowing the ball to first bounce on the edge of the City box and then to be badly turned by Matt Harold. His finish was sure enough; away and beyond Alnwick.
The wobbles lasted less than five minutes before Askou thumped a glorious near-post header home from another tempting Lappin delivery. Holt's second – City's fifth on 71` minutes – was candy from a baby time as the ever-eager Cody McDonald sent his skipper in on goal and he strolled in his fifth goal in as many games.
He could yet prove to Bryan Gunn's lasting bequest to this football club. Five goals in five games, he is one box that Lambert won't need to tick.
He'll get goals. And with them, Lambert will get wins.
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