Eight out of ten for Lambert
PUBLISHED: 17:34 04 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:29 10 September 2010
City's Celtic legend took over after a dreadful home defeat and a distasteful supporter incident. The interregnum in which there was but one fixture, an away game in London, was overseen by the new manager sitting in the stands.
City's Celtic legend took over after a dreadful home defeat and a distasteful supporter incident. The interregnum in which there was but one fixture, an away game in London, was overseen by the new manager sitting in the stands. As soon as the new broom got to work, City's season was back on track with two league wins, but there was a disappointing Carling Cup exit to temper the optimism.
But that's enough of how Peter Grant started. The real question is how do we judge Paul Lambert's first four games in charge at Carrow Road?
To start with he's had the benefit of luck. Not luck with refereeing decisions, fit players or a miraculous bundle of cash suddenly appearing that he can spend on players (if such a thing actually exists at Carrow Road), but luck with the fixtures. Lambert's had the good fortune to have started with two games against teams who are more than likely to feature at the wrong end of the table and two cup matches in which to have a look at the players not in the starting XI. And just as importantly he has seen the team twice in the worst possible light as the Colchester boss and also at Brentford. First impressions do last as the “Plymouth Six” will know to their cost.
Lambert still has plenty of work to do on the personnel front, and a number of big decisions to make with the players he has been bequeathed by Gunny. He appears to have little confidence in Theo the keeper, who has now been “promoted” to third choice behind Fraser Forster and Declan Rudd now that the unfortunate Ben Alnick has returned to Spurs. A big decision needs to be made in the January transfer window.
Next up is Wes Hoolahan. I've seen him referred to on message boards as the “Chocolate Teapot” whereas Jeremy Goss described him to me as, “The best player to appear at Carrow Road last season”, when he joined the Canaries in the summer of 2008. After having seen him play for a year or so, I don't agree with either of these opinions, but what I am sure about is that he is going to struggle to fit in with the more direct style of play and defensively compact system we are likely to see under Lambert. I'm sad to see that a player of his ability may well be on the way out of Carrow Road, but a move away looks to be in the best interests of both parties.
The rest of the midfield is where Lambert has really stamped his mark on the team. Stephen Hughes has been brought in and looks like a class act, with young Korey Smith whose selection really surprised me, an ideal foil. He has given some bite and real pace to the City engine room. Pace is certainly what we don't have out wide, but with Simon Lappin's delivery and the trickery of a rejuvenated Paul McVeigh, the middle four now look like a real unit working together.
With the new quartet in place where does this leave our summer signings, Matthew Gill and Owain Tudur-Jones, apart from on the treatment table? After their more than disappointing starts, both have considerable work ahead to get back in the team as Tom Adeyemi has also risen ahead of them in the pecking order. And with Daryl Russell's phone accidentally set to silent as the transfer window closed, the description of our midfield options as “A Wealth” is not an exaggeration. It was also interesting to note that Sky Sports reported that City made a bid for the Swindon (and ex of Watford) winger Antony McNamee, a pacy and direct player who can play on either flank which must leave a question over Simon Whaley's City future.
Going against the popular trend, I've always had time for the Doc. His performance at Scunthorpe in December 2007 is the game I'd like to remember him by. It was a miserable day, and a real FA Cup third round type of game, and he repelled all-comers in a heroic display which unfortunately we've not seen for quite some time now. If the Doc does move on, he'll go with my best wishes.
And finally - can Cody McDonald cut it at Norwich? I want him to succeed at City. I really do. That goal against Cardiff was one of my favourite moments of last season. He has pace, movement and an eye for goal. But if I've noticed that his first touch needs working on, there's no doubt that Lambert has as well, so it's no surprise to me that Jamie Cureton has been given a run in the team.
Overall eight of ten so far for Paul Lambert with points only deducted for lack of transfer window activity. Well done and keep up the good work.