Canary boss Paul Lambert today vowed to keep City’s special team ethos at the forefront of his transfer thinking after being given the green light to spend this January.
At a fans forum last night, both chairman and chief executive confirmed that Lambert would be given the funds to spend again when the New Year transfer window opens at the end of next month.
But given the special, ‘All for one, one for all!’ chemistry that the Scot has instilled in the Norfolk club in his two years at the helm, he knows that to drop a ‘Big Name Charlie’ into the mix would be to play with fire.
It would, in a sense, be like dropping a Joey Barton back into a Newcastle squad that is currently demonstrating exactly the same team ethos that has helped establish Norwich in the top half of the Premiership table – and provided the cornerstone of those, back-to-back promotion campaigns.
Lambert knows how he has got to this position and he clearly knows what level of ‘help’ his current group of players need come January – and what sort of individual that will demand. One who knows that there is no ‘i’ in the word team-work, in short.
“Are you asking me if the team more important than any one individual?” said Lambert, asked just that at Colney this morning, ahead of Norwich’s trip to Aston Villa this weekend.
“Listen – there’s no two ways about it. Any successful team that I have seen or be involved in was always about the team.
“Yes, you might have somebody who can make a little bit of a difference but they will only be as good as the one next to them.”
The case he cited was Wes Hoolahan – only allowed to strut his stuff by the fact that, say, a Bradley Johnson had won the ball for him.
“I’m sure if you asked Wes he’ll say that someone has to go and get the ball for him – somebody has got to do the hard work. So, in my view, the team is more important than any one individual.”
It is a thought process that will underpin his activity in the transfer window; that and an intimate knowledge of the club’s financial position – and just how close the Canaries came to disappearing into administration two, short years ago.
With Messrs Bowkett and McNally steering the good ship Canary towards a ‘self-sustaining’ future, Lambert is not about to rock that boat via A N Individual who arrives in January and promptly over-turns the club’s carefully constructed wage structure. Neither the club nor the manager will be living beyond their means again.
Equally, however, Lambert appears to have enough confidence in his own managerial ability to be able to clip the wings of anyone who arrived thinking they were bigger than the club – and better than anyone else in that dressing room.
“I’m not really worried about that [a ‘Big Time Charlie’ arriving] because it’ll be my job to curtail that,” said the City chief.
“Would I put up with it? No. Would I put up with someone coming here and thinking they’re bigger than what we have already got? No.”
And then there’s the money question.
“But if you’re talking about Big Time Charlies arriving, then what we you tend to find is that Big Time Charlies want the Big Time money which we won’t do because of what’s been happening.
“I won’t destroy the ethos of the club for one individual. And as I think the chairman said last night, the club won’t ever go back to the position it was in two years ago.”
Given City’s form and fortune of late, it could be the case that come January Lambert’s squad needs little more than the faintest of tweaks as opposed to radical surgery.
He will, for example, have both James Vaughan and Daniel Ayala coming back on stream after their respective injuries; they will, in effect, be akin to two fresh signings.
In the meantime, Lambert reported a clean bill of health for the trip to Villa; the odds being on Norwich naming an unchanged side for the seventh successive game.
The biggest question is whether Grant Holt has done enough to unseat Steve Morison from that lone striker’s role. Lambert was giving few clues; Morison has, he said, been getting better and better with every passing game. And, of course, he could quite easily play both up top if he wished to spring a surprise.
That would be for the Alex McLeish to guess and not for Lambert to tell.