Paul Lambert is hoping that his high-flying Canaries can kick Bristol City while they’re down, as the two prepare to meet at Ashton Gate tomorrow.
Keith Millen’s outfit have been in freefall since previous boss Steve Coppell resigned unexpectedly after just two competitive games in charge, and they dropped into the relegation zone on Tuesday night with a 3-1 defeat at Portsmouth.
Confidence is clearly low in the camp and as we’ve seen with Lambert’s Norwich, momentum can be hard to stop when it gets hold of you. Unfortunately for the Robins, this particular impetus is taking them in the wrong direction.
And City chief Lambert is hoping that his third-placed team can capitalise on the tricky situation for the West Country side. If the visitors can get on top early on, it will only add to the pressure.
“You become anxious and when you’re at home it makes it doubly as hard,” he said, speaking at his Colney press conference this morning.
“Everybody expects you to win and I’m sure it will be like that tomorrow. If we can put them on the back foot a little bit then hopefully the crowd will go against them and we can win. But it will be a tough game.”
It’s worth noting that jumping the gun is all-too commonplace in football – we are only nine games into the season after all.
Teams have started worse and been promoted so there is no need to push the major panic button at Ashton Gate. But sadly this is the game of football we are talking about.
Leicester supremo Milan Mandaric sacked manager Paulo Sousa today but as far as Lambert is concerned, the bottom-of-the-table Foxes are in a false position, much like Bristol City according to some observers.
“If you look at the table, Leicester are bottom and they’re a good side. Our game with them on Tuesday was always going to be dangerous after what happened to them last Friday [losing 6-1 at Portsmouth].
“You just have to look at their forward line; they really are a good side. And tomorrow will be a similar sort of scenario – we have to keep Bristol City down there.
“It’s hard [when you have a management change]. I don’t know what happened with Steve Coppell but it will be a tough game there tomorrow.”
If they record another three-point haul this weekend, the Canaries could even find themselves in the top two of the Championship and even though you won’t find this Scot getting too carried away, Lambert is certainly pleased with his team’s start.
One thing that has stood out is the size – and quality – of the Norwich squad this time around. In years gone by we’ve seen ‘X Factor’ players such as Darren Eadie, Keith O’Neill and Craig Bellamy but no real strength-in-depth to back that up.
The class of 2010/11 is different, however, and even if a Korey Smith or Elliott Ward gets injured, there are people of a similar standing ready to step straight in.
“You’ve got to hang in for as long as you can. I’ve got a great belief in whoever plays for us and if injuries occur, we’ve got people who can come in.
“Andrew Surman got injured just when he was starting to play at the top of his game but to be fair to Simon Lappin, he’s been excellent since he replaced him.
“I’ve never had a problem where I can’t bring people into the team to help the other ones.”
In team news, there were no new niggles to report but Zak Whitbread’s return to the team doesn’t appear to be any closer after failing to feature for a City XI side against Spurs reserves in midweek.
For the time being, Whitbread had to make do with more physio work but Steve Smith – who has also been out for a significant period of time – should keep his place on the bench.
Elsewhere, Lambert is expected to name an unchanged line-up, with Chrissy Martin for Simeon Jackson the only likely alteration.