City boss Paul Lambert has taken a positive stance on Saturday’s FA Cup no-show at Carlisle, insisting his team can bounce back in the same way they did last month.
As disappointing as the 3-1 reverse at Brunton Park was, to be fair to the Canaries, they have been outstanding since Lambert’s arrival in Norfolk. One poor performance doesn’t change that.
Even your Chelseas and Uniteds lose a few along the way so the Scot was in no way about to panic. And tomorrow night’s short trip to Southend represents a real opportunity to get back to winning ways.
Let’s be honest, City were never going to win the FA Cup. So to get a ‘no-show’ out of the way without dropping vital League One points is probably a good thing.
In between the cruel 2-1 defeat at Leeds in October and the weekend loss in Cumbria, the record reads: played seven, won six, drawn one. And if you were to offer Lambert the same scenario for the next seven matches, he’d bite your hand off.
“It was disappointing [at Carlisle], but we’ve got to pick ourselves up and go again,” he said this morning, speaking to the press at Colney.
“If push came to shove, I’d rather lose in the cup than in a league game but it’s still disappointing for us. We didn’t play at the level we normally do.
“For 30 minutes in the first half we were there but in the end it just wasn’t our day. After the early goal in the second half we couldn’t get back into it.
“But if we only had one game like that every three months, I’d probably take it – everybody has their off days. I’m disappointed but I can’t forget what the lads have already done.”
For me, that’s the difference between the current man in the City hot-seat and previous incumbents. He seems determined not to criticise players in public and surely that is a must in this day and age of player power.
A manager can do or say what he likes but it’s the XI on the park that do the business and – within reason – you must keep them onside.
And Lambert will be hoping that the Canary squad repay his faith at Southend tomorrow night in what will be a local derby compared to some of the trips they’ve faced in recent weeks.
“They trained yesterday and the players were quiet,” continued the City boss, who, remarkably, has been in Norfolk for over three months already.
“We’ve got to bounce back and it will be a test of our capabilities. But we’ve done it before. It will be a tough game down there, it’s a tight ground and we’ll have to be ready.”
In team news, Lambert revealed that Darel Russell is the one new injury concern after picking up ‘a knock’ in the weekend cup exit – he is thought to be suffering from a dead leg.
But on a positive note, Jens Berthel Askou looks set to return to the starting line-up and he told reporters he was hopeful of getting some assistance with the care of his ill wife.
But City supporters should not expect wholesale changes ahead of the Roots Hall clash, as Lambert keeps faith with the group that have been responsible for the excellent run of form.
“Darel’s got a knock he picked up on Saturday and he might be doubtful. But the team picks itself when we’re winning and it’s going to be hard for the others and the new lads to get in.”
Remember, if you’re not making the trip to Essex tomorrow evening, you can keep up to date with all the action from Roots Hall on MFW. And if you’re feeling brave, join in – just add an #ncfc to your message on Twitter.