Paul Lambert and Chris Hughton were the perfect City blend
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A combination of former Norwich City managers Paul Lambert and Chris Hughton would be “perfect” - according to a player who served them both as skipper at Carrow Road.
Russell Martin says that so different were the pair that City struggled to cope with the transition when Hughton took over from Lambert in the summer of 2012.
Martin was Lambert’s first outfield signing in the autumn of 2009 and said the Scot had a simple plan for the club, which had just been relegated to League One.
“I walked into this dressing room at Norwich, a big club, it was under-achieving, it was close to administration and Paul, through sheer single-mindedness, knew exactly what he wanted and had complete confidence in what he was doing. He just went ‘oh, we’ll drag this club up and be the ones to take it through’.
“Then it was Chris, who was the complete opposite, which is what the club struggled with.
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“Chris is a great guy, so organised, so structured, but it was a completely different playing philosophy to Paul. We had a group of players that we recruited for Paul’s style and mentality-wise completely believed in it, and we were quite gung ho, against anyone. Whether it was Manchester City away or West Brom at home, we played the same way. We pressed, we tried to play out and then Chris went, ‘no, we are going away, we are going to have two banks of four, we are going to be solid and really organised’.
“When I look back at it I learned so much from Chris in terms of his structure, his organisation, how much detail he gave the players, stuff like that. It was so important - if you blended the two it would be perfect.”
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Martin, now MK Dons manager, admitted that Alex Neil’s arrival in January, 2015, raised eyebrows.
“For a 33-year-old to come in from Hamilton to Norwich, a lot of people questioned it, even the players in the dressing room,” Martin told the Scottish Football Coaching podcast.
“But from his first meeting it was ‘bam!’. This is what we are doing, black and white. If you don’t do it you won’t play. If you do it I will give you everything, I will back you’. He was incredible really from the journey he had been on, he had only been a manager a short space of time and I really liked it. He was probably the most brutally honest person I have ever come across.