It’s been a while, my apologies.
Since Stan’s last utterances prior to that rain-drenched, mud-soaked annihilation of our new adversaries from Essex way back when, the upward trajectory of our club has been quite breathtaking.
The utter joy that football can bring, forgotten for so long, has coursed through the veins of Canary fans once more.
The promotion-clinching trip to Charlton on that joyous spring day will remain one of my most treasured memories for as long as I live. Moments of shared joy like that don’t come round often in football – or in life in general.
Indeed, as we all stood outside The Hope And Anchor on the banks of the Thames enjoying a celebratory pint, the sheer delight radiating from those assembled, just 12 short months after those same faces wore the look of condemned men, had the capacity to warm the very soul.
Since then we’ve won the title, enjoyed an open-topped bus parade and emerged blinking back into the Championship limelight, a place we should never have left in a southerly direction in the first place.
We’ve crushed the Blue foe with almost contemptuous ease and are finally starting to get those beyond the county boundaries sitting up to take notice.
This cause is helped enormously by having the trio of Smith, Fry and Humphrey singing our praises on a national and even global scale.
All this has occurred whilst the steely McNally has ruthlessly cut the fat away from the fleshier parts of the club and encouraged a far more hard-nosed, success-driven philosophy to fill the corridors of Carrow Road.
Success on the pitch has allowed this to happen with barely a shrug or a tut.
I believe it was one of Clinton’s advisors who coined the phrase ‘It’s the economy, stupid…’ and it’s easy to imagine that McNally has his version; ’It’s the football, stupid…’ pinned to his office wall.
Since the days of Chase, accusations have been pointed at the various boards of putting the cart before the horse, but there can’t be many people out there now who would level that one at the club.
Recent talk of Premiership interest in Grant Holt has been greeted with a strong sense that the club will do the right thing, rather than one of impending doom and tearful departures. All this is a million miles from where we found ourselves in May 2009.
We now receive plaudits both on and off the field.
On balance there have been few more enjoyable times to be part of the Yellow Army. We can only hope that it all lasts, and for this to happen we have to hold onto the architect of our resurrection, a man whose actions speak infinitely louder than his words… step forward Paul Lambert.
There can be little doubt that we have stumbled upon, or rather that nice Mr McNally has indentified and gone out and got, a manager with the Midas touch.
Like his mentor Martin O’Neill before him, you sense Lambert possesses something that a million coaching badges won’t bring, an inherent genius in man-management.
He’ll make tactical errors without a doubt, but most importantly he’ll get his little band of brothers to achieve beyond that which their individual and collective ability would suggest they should.
As Lambert puts it, they punch above their weight. They’ll scrap for him and each other until the drop. Combine this with an ability to spot a decent player at a hundred yards and City really have struck gold.
I was mulling over O’Neill’s managerial record the other day and what strikes me most is, not only his undoubted success, but his ability get his teams overachieving.
We’re not talking Milan or Barcelona, we’re talking Wycombe, Leicester, Celtic, Villa; each and every one has risen beyond where they could rightfully expect to be whilst being guided by the straight-talking Northern Irishman.
In Lambert, in so many ways O’Neill’s protégé, we appear to have found a very similar character.
Should both he and the team he has started to assemble, live up to their potential, then there will be only one way we’ll leave the Championship, and it won’t be in the direction we left last time!
The only concern is if you take time to look at the records of O’Neill’s clubs immediately after he leaves, Villa being a classic case in point. You can’t help feeling that a similar thing would happen if Lambert headed for brighter lights and bigger bucks.
However as it’s Christmas, and thus a time of joy, I think it’s wise to put such thoughts to the back of one’s mind and instead dream of just where a Lambert led Canaries could be heading in 2011. It sets the heart pounding just thinking about it!
Happy Christmas to all and if anyone does see Lambert in the near future please tell him that if he even thinks about leaving us… the haggis gets it!
On the Ball City!
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