Given the nature of the footballing beast, the number of people wholly conversant with the events of the last fortnight you could count on the fingers of one hand.
Of those, maybe one might ever talk. And it will only ever be his version of events.
Talk to one or two people today who you would suspect would be close to said events and one or two questions still remain unanswered – be it on or off the record.
So, for the record, here are two questions that I still don’t get; two loose ends to the whole Lambert-Hughton affair that would be nice to box off and put neatly to bed.
In fairness, neither question involves Chris Hughton. On little more than the basis of one interview and a rather more closer inspection of his coaching and managerial record, I fully get why he topped the ‘Most Wanted’ list at Carrow Road for the last 12 months.
He feels very right. Both for the club and as an individual.
No, Hughton I get. I also get the points of tension that would have existed between Lambert on one side and the McNally-Bowkett wing on the other.
With the glorious benefit of hindsight, the chairman’s speech at the club’s end of season dinner is laced with pointed invitations for Lambert to make his move. ‘Fine, do it… We have Plan B…’ would have hung heavy in the air for the listening Scot.
So that bit I get, too.
The missing bits of my jigsaw are two-fold.
One, why was Lambert so noticeably out of the running when it came to the Liverpool job? And, two, what are Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa still doing here?
The Liverpool gig was the big prize of the summer. Spurs might have been the other one had the FA gone with Harry for the England gig. At which point, some had David Moyes heading south and leaving the Everton job being up for grabs.
As it was, he was never going to swap blue for red; he stayed put. Of the ‘top drawer’ jobs, Liverpool was the one.
Chelsea are such a law unto themselves that we’ll ignore them.
The point being that if Liverpool could so actively court first Roberto Martinez and then, successfully, Brendan Rodgers, why not Lambert?
Neither of the other two have a Champions League winners medal as a player to their name; neither offer that same, steely-eyed determination of a son of Glasgow; neither have back-to-back promotions on their cv.
That continues to strike me as odd. Was it simply down to the style of football Rodgers plays at Swansea? That he was more of the continental sophisticate than Lambert who supposedly used Grant Holt as no more than an old fashioned battering ram?
I don’t compute.
The only thing that makes a little sense comes courtesy of a withering column from the Mirror’s Andy Dunn on the back of the Adam Drury Testimonial Press conference and being riled by Stuart Jarrold’s line of questioning. It is interesting only for the store Dunn claims American owners would place on slick PR – an argument clearly then lost by the actions of Villa’s US owner, Randy Lerner.
‘If he [Lambert] does harbour ambitions of managing one of the elite clubs, it was hardly a glowing advertisement of his PR skills.
‘And make no mistake, PR skills matter in 21st-Century football. If Lambert’s fellow Scot, Kenny Dalglish, had learnt some, he would still be manager of Liverpool Football Club…’
Maybe Dalglish was going to be the one to unlock the door at Anfield; his exit ended that hope.
As for the second question – the fact that two-thirds of ‘Team Lambert’ were still up at Colney this evening – that I suspect may run for a while longer.
The line from today’s Press conference was that the Canaries were happy for an expanded coaching team up at Colney; that Culverhouse and Karsa would be bolted in to a new-look ‘boot room’ that now includes Hughton’s regular No2, Colin Calderwood, and his first-team coach at Blues, Paul Trollope.
Given Culverhouse’s Spurs connection with Hughton that might, just, wash.
But only just.
And I’ve never wholly understood Karsa’s exact role in the Colney set-up – other to be the manager’s eyes and ears around the training ground and to play the John Robertson ‘part’ in the same, set-up as Martin O’Neill deploys on his travels. Culverhouse being the Steve Walford of the pack.
No, I would suspect that there are compensation games afoot here with Villa.
That whilst Hughton’s exit from St Andrew’s with his chosen ‘crew’ in tow might have proceeded with just the odd, ‘to and fro…’, the same cannot be said of Lambert’s lone disappearance to Villa Park whilst his two nearest and dearest are still in Norfolk. And under contractual lock and key, one presumes.
Two loose ends of a story that has yet to wholly unravel.
And what odds now would anyone give on Norwich drawing Aston Villa (h) out of the fixture computer for the opening game of the season?
On Point 2, I can only see that its to do with contractual matters between the clubs. Its no different to ‘not accepting’ PL’s resignation because it would undermine the Canaries legal position & entitlement to compensation.
Point 1, yea its odd. I wonder whether PL put a stop to it, because he felt his mate king Kenny had been badly treated. Certainly it looks like Rodger’s has taken the plumb job this summer. As DMcN says, I’d of thought PL could’ve done much better for himself than Villa.
John Elliott says
Yet another thought provoking column. It has been a stressful time for all City fans and, hopefully, we have come out of it successfully with a new manager who looks to be a very good fit for Carrow Road.
All that remains now is for supporters to give Christ Hughton the backing he deserves and to thank Paul Lambert when we see him next season for three fantastic years.
And, personally, to thank this website and all its contributors for such thoughtful and well informed comment.
Barclay Hero says
Im wondering if Liverpool were scared off the whole “Dour Glaswegian” stereotype following Dalglish’s departure – which is why the went for the brighter-sounding more eloquent Rogers (and potentially Martinez. Lambert was more of the same – and the owners wanted something completely different
Im also wondering whether the club knew Lambert would be off at some point soon, knew Hughton was available as Plan B and forced the issue before Plan B had to become Plan C or D. Was it Lambert that threw his toys out of the pram – or was it the club. The speed of the appointment – and I think it was just as quick as Lamberts original appointment – suggests that the new man was lined up before Lambert walked out of the door