Let’s not make a habit of this, warns Norwich City boss Paul Lambert
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Safe to say Paul Lambert left his Norwich players in no doubt they were off the pace against Blackburn.
The City chief is a firm advocate of keeping it ‘in-house’ when it comes to criticism, but Lambert’s post-match demeanour at Ewood Park spoke volumes.
Norwich’s defensive charity was a sense of clear irritation, coming as it did fresh from that previous landmark Premier League away day success at Tottenham.
Lambert reiterated again after watching Mauro Formica and Junior Hoilett settle this contest that any trace of complacency will not be allowed to take root over the final fixtures.
“I would hope that is not the case,” he said. “I think the nature of football dictates that you try and win every game you can – whether that is meaningful or not. They (the players) know. I’ve got beat so I ain’t going to go in there and say, ‘well done’.
“You can talk about the Tottenham game but I just don’t want to win at Tottenham. I want to win every game. It is not always possible but I never want to have that feeling of just an acceptance.
“At Tottenham we hit a level that was extremely high, but the top players can do that week in, week out. One thing I will never criticise them for is they have given me everything this year. I don’t think we got going. Sometimes that happens in football.”
Lambert was critical of the collective role Norwich played in both Blackburn strikes. Formica slipped in unattended to volley home Morten Gamst Pedersen’s cross prior to the interval before Hoilett maintained his personal vendetta against the Canaries with another stunning right-footed strike from range that John Ruddy could only palm into the top corner.
“We gave away two silly goals,” said Lambert. “We were right in it in terms of possession and one or two few chances, but the cross for the first has took out five of us with one ball and they have one player in the penalty box, so that was a poor goal from our point of view. Even at 1-0 we are still in the game, but goals do that. They change games. If you look at it, I know what has gone wrong but you can’t allow a ball to travel that distance and the lad is free at the back post.
“For the second, I don’t think you can let him come inside and shoot from 25 yards. You have to go and make a tackle, or block it, or something. We did neither. That is to take nothing away from Junior Hoilett. He did the same at our place but you can’t run beside somebody. If there is a possibility you have to do something. He hit a wonder goal against us at Carrow Road and that lad has been a danger. At 2-0 the horse has bolted. We huffed and puffed today. You take your medicine and we have to go again.”
Lambert has long maintained Blackburn have both the quality and the character to clamber to Premier League safety – even in the face of fresh fan-led protests directed towards both Steve Kean and the club’s owners.
“Yeah, they are a good side. I said that all along. I felt that when they came to Norwich and nothing has changed my mind,” he said. “Blackburn are a team fighting for their lives and they are certainly not a team who will throw the towel in.
“I don’t really hear it when you are stood down there; it is just kind of noise because you are so engrossed in it and what is happening.
“Obviously looking from afar, things have been going on and I don’t care who you are, it’s not nice. It is the wrong thing to see in football.”