Now we’ve passed the traditionally tricky Christmas and New Year period, I feel the time is right for a half-term report on Paul Lambert, and it makes for good reading for Norwich fans.
After last weekend’s 3-1 win over Exeter, City sit in second place, three points clear of Charlton, although the Addicks do have a game in hand.
And if we are assessing Lambert’s performance so far, it would have to be a perfect 10/10 for the Scot.
It’s not just the turnaround that has been remarkable – doesn’t that 7-1 defeat to Colchester seem an age ago? – it’s the speed at which Lambert has transformed Norwich from a club in crisis into promotion favourites in a matter of months.
Everything the man does is impressive, from his no-nonsense dealings with the media, to the way he carries himself around Colney.
You just know that the 40-year-old commands respect from his players, and it’s not just because of the former Celtic and Borussia Dortmund midfielder’s own glittering career.
For a start, Lambert never criticises his players in public. I’ve never understood why managers do that – surely it’s just counterproductive?
Footballers have egos and tend to hold a grudge, so the last thing you should do is have a pop in the media. Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know.
But I just don’t get why Peter Grant, Glenn Roeder et al decided on this approach – it didn’t exactly work for them did it?
I’m not saying the current City boss doesn’t have the occasional rant and rave now and again. But the difference is that he doesn’t do it in public – players pick up on that.
It’s also quite clear there is a distance between him and the players, albeit a healthy one. If one of the Canary XI doesn’t put in a shift, they know they’ll be on the receiving end of some harsh words – behind closed doors.
But the Scot is also the sort of guy who’ll put his arm around you and offer support if the time is right. After all, he was a player himself – Lambert knows that despite the huge pay packet, life as a professional footballer is not always plain sailing.
Where Bryan Gunn, despite his legendary status in Norfolk, got it wrong for me was the relationship he had with his playing staff.
I’m not saying I’m privy to every single detail of what went on during his tenure but the fact that many City players were supposedly seen out on the town following that fateful day at The Valley in May says it all. There wasn’t the ‘fear factor’ that all top bosses seem to possess.
They liked Gunny immensely as a bloke, a top man – we’d all agree on that. But to be a successful manager, you need to be able to get 100% out of your players every single week.
And that is why Lambert is proving to be such a success. It was not a surprise to see him linked with the Burnley job when Owen Coyle made the short trip to Bolton and if he carries on in the same fashion, then it’ll be bigger clubs than the Clarets that come knocking.
It was refreshing to hear him commit his immediate future to the Canaries during last week’s press conference at Colney but the way Lambert is going, he could have some serious offers in the not too distant future.
His beloved Celtic aren’t exactly pulling up any trees under Tony Mowbray and we all know that second is nowhere up there – especially if it’s second behind arch-enemy Rangers.
You would assume that he’d find it hard to turn the Glasgow giants down, given his association with the club.
We’ve just got to hope that City are be back in the Championship by the time a real big gun starts sniffing around.
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