“It’s not about bringing in loan players – the word is quality,” said the manager afterwards.
“We’re after quality loan players because of the position that we’re in. We’re not fighting relegation with all due respect – we’re trying to compete with the top teams in this division.
“So we’ll continue to search the market-place and see who’s available. We have asked several questions; enquired about several people, but in the end we know how difficult this loan window can be.”
The quest to add that final, extra quality would continue. And it wouldn’t be just anyone.
“I will not bring people in just for the sake of bodies,” he stressed again this evening, after seeing two, big points ripped from his grasp by one of the Championship’s real strugglers.
“To bring in bodies is easy. But we will only bring someone in if they can add to what we’ve got.”
They weren’t, of course, the words of City boss Paul Lambert after tonight’s thoroughly frustrating 1-1 draw with injury-ravaged Doncaster Rovers, rather those of his Forest counter-part Billy Davies whose side had performed an even greater act of disappointment by conceding a 96th minute leveller against bottom-of-the-table Preston North End.
And all after taking a 92nd minute lead only for North End’s Billy Jones to steal in unmarked at the far post in the game’s dying seconds to rip two, huge points out of Forest’s grasp.
The point to the story is very simple. Norwich aren’t alone in enduring the highs and lows of a Championship promotion fight.
More importantly, as the judge, the jury and the executioner gather on the message-boards tonight to run the rule over why the Canaries failed to bury Rovers after Grant Holt’s 15th goal of the season gave them that first-half advantage, they won’t be the only club in that top six knocking on the door of an Arsene Wenger to see if he had second striker going spare.
Norwich’s hope has to be that Michael Foulger’s kitty is bigger than that at Davies’ disposal as Adam Drury’s 83rd minute own goal denied City the victory many assumed was their’s by rights.
After all, the South Yorkshire-side barely had 11 fit players to their name – or so the chairman claimed as he sought to get the game called off by the Football League on the grounds of ‘fair play’.
“I thought before the game that maybe some people were being a bit disrespectful to Doncaster – suggesting we just had to turn up to win it and that was never, ever going to be the case,” Lambert told the official Canaries website afterwards, forced to partner lead scorer Holt with Aaron Wilbraham after Chrissy Martin disappeared with a hamstring strain last week.
Inevitably, that’s where the fingers will start to point. At the lack of goals coming from alongside the skipper. And, likewise, Norwich’s ambitions in the ‘emergency’ loan market to address that widely-perceived short-coming.
The overall level of performance clearly didn’t help. It was, said Lambert, a ‘stop-start’ game.
One that was made that much tougher by the level of expectation that now fills Carrow Road – just as it does the City Ground, Nottingham.
“I can sense everybody’s frustration and everyone’s disappointment, but you’ve got to remember how far we’ve come,” said Lambert, with he and Davies sharing the same script-writers.
To quote the politicians, we’re all in this together when it comes to the promotion race. Only in Norwich’s case the rise has been the more phenomenal than Forest’s – if anyone has the time or the inclination to stand back and admire from afar.
Trouble is, few do. It’s all a breathless rush in which a week is an eternity.
“It’s been an incredible rise in the 19 months that we’ve been here and sometimes in football you can create a bit of a monster with a run like that, so everyone walks away disappointed when you’re fifth in the Championship whereas 19 months ago they’d have snapped your hand off for that.
“I’m not about to start criticising the lads that’s for sure, because what they have achieved is incredible. We will carry on and go again.”
Cardiff were the night’s biggest winners; Michael Chopra and Arsenal loanee Aaron Ramsey scoring the goals that ended Leicester City’s recent surge. There’s money talking.
It all left City in fifth; Swansea in second; Forest fourth with a game in hand.
“It’s not about the top four,” said one of tonight’s disappointed managers. It really doesn’t matter who.
“It’s about the top six; the top eight. If you go second, you might drop to fourth and then go back to fifth and then go into third. What we can’t do is get too high when we go second and too low when we’re fourth. We’re in amongst it.
“And as I’ve said before – there’ll be ups and downs and twists and turns…”