Praise when it comes from your peers carries an added gravitas.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Norwich City’s FA Cup win over Burnley did more than exorcise a few demons. It brought into sharp focus how City’s rapid elevation has been perceived in the wider football community; principally from those old foes they left trailing less than eight short months ago.

The Clarets’ management and players formed an orderly queue post-match to positively eulogise about the footballing renaissance clearly in full swing in this part of the country.

Allow me to reprise here for the benefit of anyone who may have focussed, quite rightly, on the thoughts of Paul Lambert, or those of Zak Whitbread and Andrew Surman, in the afterglow of a convincing cup victory. The opposition’s verdict may well have been overlooked in the process.

Lambert’s counterpart, Eddie Howe, is another up-and-coming boss making his way in the higher echelons of the professional game.

The 34-year-old looks younger than most of his players, but you only have to spend a few minutes in his company to understand why he is part of the new wave.

Howe labelled Norwich ‘role models’ before launching into what veered dangerously close to charges of football plagiarism.

City’s blueprint in defying steepling odds to jump from League One to the Premier League in double quick time was put forward by Howe as one to adopt in his own club’s battle to earn promotion. City’s ‘team spirit’ and ‘collective work ethic’ were buzzwords espoused by an aspirant manager intelligent enough to know a good thing when he sees one.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the work of Lambert, his coaching staff and players looks set to be copied ad nauseum across the Football League. Nothing wrong with that in my book. Burnley’s goalscorer Jay Rodriguez was also on message when pressed for his thoughts after the Clarets were given a lesson in possession football.

“You look at Norwich – they were in the Championship last year and did really well to get into the Premier League, where they’re doing really well now,” he said.

“You look to teams like that and aspire to be like them. They were a great side in the Championship and they’ve taken that on again in the Premier League. They are a difficult side to play. They work hard and play good football and score goals.”

Two views from vanquished opponents on the same theme. A manager and a player who know from being part of the same profession the full magnitude of Norwich’s achievement.

Fans and media can laud Lambert and his boys to the hilt, but ask the Norwich manager, or players for that matter, whose opinions they value above all others and it will be those of their contemporaries.

Which, in essence, is why the likes of Elliott Bennett and Anthony Pilkington will have cherished their inclusion in last season’s League One team-of-the-year or Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan in the Championship equivalent.

Or even Lambert himself, who picked up his second managerial gong in succession.

Awards voted for by the direct opponents they go into battle against every week for nine months of the year carry far greater significance that endless player ratings in the papers or platitudes from supporters on social media.

Chris Waddle tells a funny tale about his brief dalliance with the managerial game at Burnley, where he was confronted in his office by a player dropped for a midweek game.

The gist of said player’s plea for leniency came from the fact he had been awarded a mark of ‘eight’ in the paper for the previous game. You could just see that exchange being replayed at Colney on a Monday morning – or not as the case may be.

Which underlines the point here. Yes, there is a point.

You don’t have to have played the game to gauge the rate of progress made by the club in the past two and a half seasons.

But when the warm words emanate from a Burnley side soundly beaten at the weekend it should resonate loud and clear just what a major turnaround has taken place at Carrow Road in recent times.





Order your copy of The Canary magazine
Norwich City: History as it happened
Order your copy of Norwich City: History as it Happened
Read our digital publication