Paul Lambert this morning wished caretaker Bhoys boss Neil Lennon the best of luck with his new role at Celtic Park as the Canary chief stuck firmly to his ‘I’m happy here!’ guns.
Tony Mowbray’s exit following the Glasgow giants’ 4-0 humbling by St Mirren inevitably found Lambert’s name being widely touted as a potential successor to the luckless former Town coach.
However, as Lambert busied himself ahead of tomorrow’s top-of-the-table clash with visitors Leeds, so he was swift to wish his former Bhoys pal Lennon every success in his new role – the directors handing Celtic’s first-team coach the top job on an interim basis until the end of the season.
“Hypothetical questions don’t bother me one bit,” he said this morning, as the inevitable – and hypothetical – question reared its ugly head.
“Celtic was brilliant while I was there; I loved the club,” added the former Bhoys skipper, who arrived back in Scotland complete with that European Cup winners medal from his spell in Germany.
“It [Celtic] was a terrific place to play my football and we won some really nice things – and just fell short in the UEFA Cup,” added Martin O’Neill’s eyes and ears on the pitch.
“And I had great times up there; I loved it. I really did. They’ve changed their manager; the pressure on it is huge and Lenny’s in [Lennon] and I hope he goes on and does great because he’s a good friend. And, hopefully, he does great there.
“But regarding myself I’m really happy here – as I’ve said from day one. I love it here and my job is to try and get this team out of this league.”
Continuing with this weekend’s little game against second-placed Leeds, was this game any different to any other?
Norwich-Leeds has a certain ring to it – be it in the Premiership or League One, these are two of the best-supported provincial football sides clashing head-on in a game that some have already described as a ‘title decider’.
True to form, Lambert was planting his feet firmly on the ground and refusing to get carried away by all the hype and hyperbole as another Carrow Road full-house beckons.
“It’s a big game; yes – but so is everybody else when we play them,” said the Canary chief, in the happy position of having no fresh injuries to report ahead of tomorrow’s thumping clash. “They are two massive football clubs, but effectively it is still only one game.”
And nor was he about to read anything into Leeds’ alarming wobble of late; from looking odds-on certainties to stride back into the Championship in early autumn, defeat this weekend could see Simon Grayson’s men slip right back into the play-off pack.
“Listen, Leeds are still a really good side; they’re a massive club and I’ve got every respect for the tradition and the history that it’s got,” said Lambert, with the Yorkshire club due to bring some 2,200 supporters in tow.
“Will they feel under pressure? I don’t know – I don’t know how their players will react; I don’t know their players individually. You’ll have to ask Simon [Grayson] that.
“But they’re still up there and they’re still a top side. But we’re at home; we’re playing well; we’ll go and try and win the game.
“I’ve got lads at the top of their game and we’ve got the crowd right behind us. And, as I say, we’ll go and try and win it.”
Injury-wise and Lambert had pretty much a clean bill of health; Cody McDonald trained again yesterday and will come back into contention.
The feeling remains, however, that on the basis of ‘If it ain’t bust…’ Lambert will do little to fix it and will head into battle with both team and bench unchanged.