Diamonds are forever for Paul Lambert
Chris Lakey Diamonds are Paul Lambert's best friend - and he has the perfect jewel in the crown in Wes Hoolahan. The little Irishman once again shone brightly as City made it eight wins on the trot at Carrow Road to leave them just two points off the automatic promotion places.
Diamonds are Paul Lambert's best friend - and he has the perfect jewel in the crown in Wes Hoolahan.
The little Irishman once again shone brightly as City made it eight wins on the trot at Carrow Road to leave them just two points off the automatic promotion places.
Much of the success under Lambert has been down to his firm belief in the diamond formation - with Hoolahan at its peak, creating goals and mayhem in equal amounts.
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It's a system that Lambert is hardly likely to change now that it is the adopted model for his first team player pool - the value of which is proved when injuries begin to kick in.
On Saturday Lambert lost Darel Russell and then Stephen Hughes, but the change to the midfield four was seamless.
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"It's a big credit to the lads that came in," said Lambert. "They make it easy and they know the system, they have seen it long enough to play it.
"Whoever I seem to throw in there at the minute never lets me down."
So is it a case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"?
"It's hard to say because the personnel make the system, not the system make the personnel," said Lambert. "It would be wrong of me to try and go with a system just because I think it looks good.
"That system at the minute is working for Norwich City and it's working for the personnel and they have grasped it really quickly and we've got lads that can make things happen, lads that can pass it and have bundles of energy.
"The lads deserve the credit for what they are doing."
Even in a team with 20-goal Grant Holt and the ever-improving Chris Martin up front, it's Hoolahan who is drawing all the plaudits, not that his contribution of 13 is to be sniffed at.
Lambert signed him for Livingston from Shelbourne in 2006, but the Irishman wasn't teacher's pet when Lambert was installed at Carrow Road in August. Hoolahan was axed and told to prove himself in the reserves, which he did.
"His ability was never in doubt, because I saw it a right few years ago, but what we did find was a position for him where he could make things happen in the centre of the pitch," Lambert said. "He is the one that deserves all the credit, nobody else."
"He has been unplayable at times, he can make things happen, which is a rare commodity in a game of football these days when you have somebody like that, with that ability.
"We have just found a position for him and where he is he's unplayable at the minute."
Hoolahan not only prompts those around him, he has his own lines as well, with his goal tally including 10 in the league - only out-and-out strikers have scored more.
"Which is phenomenal because his assists must be pretty high as well," said Lambert. "He can finish, there's no doubt about it - he goes by people as if they're not there at times - a talented footballer, very talented.
"His game awareness and his game knowledge is very, very good, at the highest level - at this minute in time he is playing brilliant football."