It’s at certain points in the season – and this is probably one of them – where everyone thinks that they’re a manager.
That they alone have the one, missing ingredient that will see the Canaries over this season’s finishing line without fail; that they won’t fall short in the final straight – miss out on an automatic promotion place by a point or miss out on a place in the play-offs by a single goal.
‘If I was Lambert…’ will be a regular refrain as the sense of frustration grows on the back of that 1-1 draw with injury-ravaged Doncaster in mid-week.
Of course, Lambert was quite right afterwards to step back and point to the journey that Norwich have already made under his watch; exactly, people would have bitten your arm off for a top six spot in the Championship on the day that the Norfolk club were getting wholly battered on their League One debut some 19 short months ago.
The club has over-achieved by a huge margin – no-one can deny that.
The trouble – or the trick – is to peg expectations back to the level where you continue to over-achieve between now and the end of the season.
That everything remains a bonus; icing on the survival cake – as opposed to be seen to ‘fail’ at the final hurdle; that when the tough got going in the last dozen or so games of the season, City slipped off the pace.
It all became just that little too big of an ask; back-to-back promotion seasons being the stuff of fairy-tales whilst the likes of a Cardiff City can throw the likes of a Craig Bellamy at the problem.
But tis the nature of the football beast that with such magnificent achievement comes heightened expectations; that after ‘throwing away…’ two points at home to lowly Rovers, the Canaries will set the record straight away at Barnsley tomorrow.
If they can prise a point at Leeds United, surely they can go one better away at Oakwell?
Such will be the logic; Lambert has raised the bar to that level that a draw – for some – will not suffice; it will be, to their eyes, another sure sign that the foot is slipping off the gas; that the bandwagon is starting to run out of juice just as the final straight unfurls before them.
It’s not an easy square to circle – or is that circle to square? To match ever-growing expectations on the back of such achievements. And Lambert was – as I say – quite right to try and paint the bigger picture; to step back and encourage people to take an over-view.
But in the heat of the football moment, people don’t – they let their frustrations out; a communcal groan becomes audible to the whole of Carrow Road; that the ‘monster’ – to use Lambert’s word – starts to turn on its own.
How to tame that beast? Is tricky. Very tricky.
If this was Rome and Carrow Road the Colosseum, then as all Emperors know, you give the crowd fresh meat – new entertainment. Keep them distracted; don’t let them brood overly long.
Which, in one way, brings us back to the emergency loan market and what would any of us do now.
Part of the point about deploying the Billy Davies quotes to such an extent was the fact that everyone thinks along the same lines; deep in the Colney ‘boot room’, so Lambert and his lieutenants will be having exactly the same conversations as Davies and his.
They will be eyeing the same players; making the same phone calls and – probably – getting the same answers.
Me? I’d go and see what the deal was with Kevin Phillips at Brum.
For those who think he’s long been put out to grass, he actually played the last 45 minutes of Blues’ 3-0 FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday this weekend. So, whilst he might be 37-years-old, the knees haven’t gone yet.
He’s got two goals to his name this season – albeit, clearly, via a walk-on role at St Andrews.
Will he still have an eye for goal? Be a fox-in-a-box? Probably. Will still have that half-a-yard head-start on most centre-halves in this league? In his head he’ll have the full, three-foot yard; in his legs… who knows?
But he would give the punters something else to talk about; he – or someone of his ilk – might be the fresh meat to throw into the ring at this particular stage of the season; give them something fresh to talk about; don’t let them navel-gaze for too long.
Keep it spicy; keep it fresh; keep it different. And who knows where this season could end…
Leave a Reply