City boss Paul Lambert was under no illusions as to the magnitude of the task that awaits the Canaries this weekend – nor, however, was he about to change tack.
Norwich City Football Club will head to the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, with every intention of looking for three points. There will be no parking of buses; no hunkering down with nine players behind the ball in the desperate search for a point against the Premiership’s pace-setters.
The Norfolk side have to give the City slickers something to think about; give Micah Richards a reason to look over his shoulder; to let David Silva know that he is in a game.
“We will go there and do everything we can to try and win,” said Lambert, a policy that served the club well at both Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge – even if quality would finally out. Indeed, it likewise earned Norwich a point at Anfield in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool.
So on the basis of having absolutely nothing to lose by repeating a ‘front foot first’ policy again this weekend, Lambert will go into battle with all guns blazing; Norwich will go down fighting; they won’t go quietly into the night.
“We’re under no illusions as to how difficult it will be – they are a top, top side. That’s there for everybody to see,” said the City chief, with Manchester City yet to lose a Premiership game this season.
The ability to have a £35 million striker sat on the bench is something nigh-on every other Premiership manager can only dream of. Lambert, however, has no qualms about the rivers of money now flooding through the sky blue half of Manchester. It is the nature of the game.
“Nobody’s beaten them yet, but we have to go there with a bit of belief that we can go and do something,” he said.
And what’s the trick? The secret to throwing the first real spanner into the leader’s works?
“Just try and score a goal more than they do,” Lambert laughed, fresh from last weekend’s 2-1 home win over Queen’s Park Rangers – a perfect tonic for his still-eager troops.
“We’ll take a bit of form up there and if the lads keep performing the way that they have done, with no fear and going for it, then we will give it everything we’ve got.
“But I’m not worried about them,” he added. “We have earned the right to go and play them.
“And the players have been to Old Trafford, to Anfield and to Stamford Bridge and handled that pretty well, so they won’t be going there with any fear.”
They were – he stressed – on another level to Queen’s Park Rangers.
“That’s not rocket science that,” said Lambert, as Roberto Mancini’s men chase a spot in the final stages of the Champions League. Nothing new for many of their number.
“That’s the way it is – the finance dictates that. But they still have to play as a team,” said the City chief. “But I have my own team to worry about – that’s my main concern.”
On that front his concern was that Norwich gave their hosts something to think about; not to sit back and let the likes of a Richards bomb on and on and on from his right-back berth.
“We have to do something – we have to try and cause them a problem,” said Lambert. “There’s no point going up there and inviting trouble.
“And, listen, it might happen – we might get turned over really, really heavily. But you take your medicine, you pick yourself up and you go again. But in my mind at the minute is that we give it a go.”
Injury-wise and Ritchie de Laet’s back troubles have sidelined him thus far this week – all of which would point to a swift return to first team duty for Kyle Naughton.
With both Zak Whitbread and Daniel Ayala coming through a further week of training with no ill effects, Lambert could yet put one or other on the bench. Elliott Ward was also today reported to be making better progress with his long-standing knee complaint.
All things being well, he was due to step up his fitness regime again next week.
After that it was the same old question; whether the likes of Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan are worth a start or whether Steve Morison’s ability to put a big shift in up top on his own would be the way to go.