Lambert delighted with how Norwich City have punched above their weight
Norwich City manager Paul Lambert has just one word to describe his team’s performance in the first half of the season: “Unbelievable.”
The Canaries reach the halfway stage in their Championship campaign with Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park (1pm).
They go into the match in fifth place in the table, which Lambert believes far exceeds realistic expectations when his team became League One champions eight months ago, except possibly among the media.
“We’ve punched well above our weight,” he said. “It’s you lads that actually think we should be up there, for some reason, because you haven’t had it for five or six years since the last time you were in the Premiership.
“But we’ve come from League One. That’s why we say consolidate or survive first. You’ve got to walk before you can run. What we have done is unbelievable to put us in this position.
“We’re playing really well, fans are coming in their thousands to watch us, which is great. I never once put targets on anybody. I just know as a club it’s been a hell of a rise.”
Lambert’s first wish is for his team to secure Championship status for another year by securing at least 50 points – it may require more than that as Leicester were relegated in 2008 with 52 points.
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“I think it’s roughly round about that if you look at years gone by. You just don’t know because other teams can pick up and other teams can drop but we have to try to survive,” he said.
Doing more than survive or consolidate could depend on Lambert’s success in the January transfer window. He has already identified targets and presented his wish list to the board.
“As I said before, finance is a big part of the game and I won’t bring anyone here that’s not hungry to do well,” he said. “They’ve got to be hungry to do well. And the ones we identify, I hope, will be, but whether they come here or not remains to be seen.
“I won’t put the club in the position where it was a few years ago where you just bring in anybody for having a great night out in Norwich and going back to wherever they want to go.
“The character of your footballers is vital. If they’ve got the winning mentality to coincide with that then you’ve got a good player on your hands. That’s what I look for. I don’t look for anybody to come in and disrupt anything or think they’re bigger than the group that’s already here.
“Whoever comes in has to earn the right first and foremost to get in the side, but that’s always the case when you have a team that’s going well. It’s a big club. You always have that scenario.
“The day you stop looking over your shoulder as a footballer is the day you become complacent, so I have to get the right type of player and character is big – they have to be decent people.”
Chief executive David McNally confirmed yesterday that City were already making headway with potential new signings.
In a question and answer session with supporters on the club’s official website, he said: “Paul has identified a few players that he would like to bring to your great football club and work is well under way in attempting to complete some business.”
McNally added that there had been no “recent offers” for City players.
Lambert said yesterday: “I don’t expect anybody to go. I’ll make the decision on that anyway.”