‘There’s no loyalty in football any more…’
No kiddin’, Sherlock…
Judging managerial moves on the back of the bookies’ odds is fraught with peril; so it would be distinctly rash to leap to any sure-fire conclusions that Norwich City boss Paul Lambert was suddenly Turf Moor bound just because PaddyPower says so…
One speculative tip in a national newspaper; one, (mis) over-heard conversation and in these days of instant news, so certain rumours can swiftly gain a life of their own. Fiction becomes fact within the space of a Twitter tweet.
In fairness to the bookies, however, they called it right over the appointment of Peter Grant.
Even if the NCFC board didn’t.
Irregular betting patterns from the east ends of both Glasgow and London gave the game away; all of a sudden all bets were off as Grant decided not to travel to a Hammers away game that evening.
You can bet your bottom dollar that the boys sat on the bus watching their first team coach suddenly depart were immediately onto their own, favoured bookie… seeing if they could just squeeze a last, 500-note wager on the next manager of Norwich City.
The fact that Lambert’s stock has risen that high, in that short a space of time is – of course – the downside to Norwich’s magnificent form of late. The man is ‘hot’ property.
And for a club of Burnley’s ilk – one who was never likely to do the Johnny Foreigner route – he would appear to ‘fit’ to a ‘T’. You can make the leap from Owen Coyle to Paul Lambert in one, easy step.
Which, in part, is why the bookies are slashing their odds; he makes perfect sense to them, too.
The fact that the chairman/owner Barry Kilby comes across as half-decent might strengthen their case further; someone as sharp-witted as Lambert wouldn’t touch a Portsmouth with a barge pole.
Something solid, sensible and, in a sense, old-fashioned.
Burnley’s forthcoming fixture list is likewise a tease. If anyone has one eye on making an instant impact in the top flight of English football, then it is a job vacancy with real possibilities. As Kilby well knows…
“There’s a probability he could be walking out at Old Trafford for his first game. That would be quite a challenge,” Kilby told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph overnight.
“In my own mind. We’ve some tough games coming up. If Liverpool do beat Reading, we go Manchester United away, Liverpool away, Bolton away, Chelsea home,” he added.
He gave no hint that their man was already in place.
“There are one or two people coming through but we haven’t got a shortlist of six or anything like that. It’s still in it’s infancy.
“The masses are coming in now, we need to just get that narrowed down. We start doing the beauty parade. We’ve got to see who’s out there.
“But we’ll do it quickly. We just take it on its merits now and see who there is.”
The thoughts of Burnley’s ‘operations director’ Brendan Flood will have done little to dissuade the bookies that Lambert fitted the bill.
“There are always young, hungry, winning managers who are out there who want a challenge who want to do something and make their name,” said Flood. “And I think by the middle of next week we’d expect to have a clear shortlist in time for that Manchester United game.”
There is one, other point that is worth bearing in mind.
Lambert has ‘previous’.
Just ask the chairman of Colchester United for whom today’s events are taking an intriguing turn – particularly given where Norwich are head on January 16.
Because as far as Barry Kilby and Brendan Flood are concerned, Lambert will walk. He’s done it before.
And that will give them encouragement that he’s worth a nibble; worth a request; worth a punt.
Now, Lambert may have fallen for Norwich in a big, big way.
On supporter numbers and loyalty, Norwich is a bigger club than Burnley. That he will see.
The difference, of course, being that the Canaries are at Colchester on January 16, not Old Trafford.
I wouldn’t claim to know Lambert The Man remotely well enough to judge whether or not he’d jump; whether on a wink and a nudge, Kilby will be ‘encouraged’ to make a formal approach.
That he’s smart, ambitious and ‘hot’ is not in doubt.
Everything that he’s said and done so far suggests that in Norwich he has found a club that suits his purposes just fine, right now.
Both parties are good for eachother; both are heading north at a rapid rate of knots.
There are 101 reasons why he’d be happy to stay put; to finish what he has only just started.
There are, alas, reasons why he’d still think twice before rejecting the possibilities Turf Moor would offer out of hand.
The chairman is decent; the club’s not badly-placed already to stay up… it’s me vs Sir Alex, first game up.
I could still move; I’ve not yet become part of the Norfolk furniture…
These thoughts anyone would have; what might do the Canaries a favour is that I don’t think money will lead him astray.
Lambert doesn’t need to work for money. He doesn’t need to work, full-stop. The cash from his playing days is banked; that’s sorted.
What is more important is the timing, the opportunity and the potential.
Is the time right – already – for him to throw himself into the deep end of Premiership football management; or is this one he declines; shys away from and waits for the next knock on the door?
I don’t know. I’m not sure anyone in this neck of the woods has yet ‘got’ Lambert well enough to know the answer; to recognise which way the man’s mind works.
Hence the questions hang heavy in the air this afternoon. We can only wait and see what the evening brings.