May 21 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
All football clubs are fundamentally comprised of three constituent parts; a board of directors, a manager and a group of players. The success of any club is dictated by how well these parts work together.
When appointed, there are parallels you can draw between Paul Lambert and Steve Kean. Both were considered by many fans as not suitably high profile appointments for two teams looking to return to former glories.
Both born and raised in Glasgow, they are part of a strong group of managers currently in the Premier League coined the ‘Glaswegian Mafia’ alongside Sir Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalglish, Owen Coyle, Alex McLeish and David Moyes.
Lambert and Kean met at Carrow Road on Saturday, sharing a warm handshake and a few kind words before kick-off. Their respective teams’ positions however, and job security as a result, were far from similar.
Lambert, in his style to which Norwich fans have become accustomed over the past two seasons, was keen to dampen expectations on Friday afternoon by rightly acknowledging that Blackburn, despite their current predicament, were an established Premier League unit who had spent money in the summer and had a mixture of physical, quick, skilful and experienced players that could cause a lot of trouble if given the chance.
Facing this challenge,
Paul Lambert’s choice was to stick with the 11 players that had worked so well for the last five games – despite the claims of Grant Holt who had come off the bench to emphatically head home an equaliser at Anfield the previous Saturday and who was obviously eager to regain a starting berth.
Both teams were subject to a typically thunderous recital of ‘On the ball City’ moments before kick-off. The game’s first shot in anger came shortly after from Mauro Formica, one of Blackburn’s summer signings, which quietened the normally vocal Barclay End and Snakepit – and acted as an immediate reminder that these are the games in a season that you can’t afford to lose, especially at home.
City played industriously and, spurred on by an expectant audience, created regular chances in the first half and, unlike Blackburn, you could clearly see a system – in contrast to the visitors’ disjointed build-up play and heavy reliance on the speed of their young Canadian striker Junior Hoilett.
Full-backs Marc Tierney and Kyle Naughton were lively and able to push forward to support wingers Anthony Pilkington and Elliott Bennett.
Down the centre of the pitch Steve Morison led the line well, winning several headers to connect the play with Wes Hoolahan, whose touch, ball retention and distribution were virtually faultless. Bradley Johnson and David Fox – a partnership which alongside Russell Martin and Leon Barnett at centre-back has been the bedrock of the recent run of good results – were diligent and pragmatic in the heart of midfield.
Hoilett’s fine solo effort spoiled what had been a good if fruitless first half for City. From my seat in the Jarrold Stand block M, I heard a ripple of boos from behind me at the half-time whistle. Despite the general applause outweighing them, I don’t understand how booing has become some fans’ standard reaction to being behind at the break.
The second half was largely fractured and frustrating for Norwich and at 3-1 down with 10 minutes left, the rallying cries of ‘On the ball City’ and ‘Y’army’ were fading. However, if there has been one trait Lambert has instilled in the club since his appointment, it is resilience, embodied by players who will fight for each other until the final whistle.
This, supported by a board who are not only committed to the cause but since the appointment of David McNally are now savvy when it comes to football administration. This is why we are successful and the roars when substitute Grant Holt slammed home the penalty and at the final whistle showed just what the never-say-die attitude means to the supporters.
Blackburn, lured in by the promise of increased investment, have sold themselves short by compromising the feeling of team. It will be interesting to see whether they can turn it around.
In the meantime, and in the words of one of the more recent Canary faithful anthems, I just can’t get enough!
• If you would like the chance to report on a Norwich City game this season - home or away - please contact Peter Raven on firstname.lastname@example.org