Lambert eager to win automatic promotion

Paddy Davitt Norwich boss Paul Lambert is desperate to avoid a League One play-off lottery. Lambert has guided the Canaries to within four points of the automatic promotion spots ahead of Millwall's Boxing Day visit to Carrow Road.

Paddy Davitt

Norwich boss Paul Lambert is desperate to avoid a League One play-off lottery.

Lambert has guided the Canaries to within four points of the automatic promotion spots ahead of Millwall's Boxing Day visit to Carrow Road. (12.45pm)

The Scot insists City must now go all out to try and overhaul title rivals Leeds and Charlton after suffering end-of-season heartache with previous club Wycombe in 2008.

“If you can get up, you'd take anything to get up,” he said. “I've been beaten with Wycombe in the semi-finals and it was horrible. But if that's the only option to do it then you take it. Ideally you want to get out at the first time of asking but if that's the next option, then you do take it. It's exciting for people. It's maybe not exciting if you get knocked out or you lose at Wembley, but first time of asking is what you want to do.

“It might not be fair in the aspect that a team who finishes third and 20 points ahead of somebody, and there's a team in 12th who have maybe have still got a chance of getting into the play-offs - and then it's a two game spin really. On those given days you can beat anybody. On any given day you can beat anybody. Over the course of the season is what really separates the better ones from the other ones, but on a two game spin anything is possible.”

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Lambert will demand tunnel vision from his troops over the festive period with his side looking to cash in on any slips ups from the top two.

“I never come in after a game and think how did they do?” he said. “Yes, I see the results when the games finish but we can't affect what happens at Elland Road or Charlton. All we have to do is try to win our own games. If we do that, then we see.

“I never bother with what's ahead of me at the minute until I think we can't mathematically do it. But I know it's in our sights so I never want to panic over it. It's not as if the league is going to finish on Saturday. If you ask me when we're only a game away and we're four off it, I'd say it's disappointing, but I've got other sides to peg back and there are loads of games that are going to throw up surprises here and there and that's what will continue to happen through the season. But they're well within our sights to try and peg them back.”

Lambert plays down the pivotal significance of a festive fortnight of fixtures - Millwall's Carrow Road visit the first in a quartet of league battles.

“I never look at one particular period being bigger than another because I just think every game this football club plays, it's got to win more games than not - whether it's home or away,” he said. “I never look at a particular period and think to myself, 'I've got to do this, X, Y and Z.' I never do it. I just think, 'win the next game,' and if you do that you go onto the next one and then the next one. That's the way I've always viewed it. There's no point looking two days ahead when you've not even taken care of the first one.”

Lambert insisted City's rejuvenated playing squad deserve all the plaudits for Norwich's turnaround since his arrival.

“The most pleasing thing is seeing the lads running for you and having a work effort, a desire to try and put themselves back up there,” he said. “That's really the most pleasing thing about everything, because we were there - we had one point, the negativity at the club and that whole feeling plus the Colchester result.

“All those things were against us, and that affects a bigger club more than a smaller club because of the expectancy level and the fans coming in their droves. That's the most pleasing thing to see happen to us. To see lads go from their and shooting up to where they are now.”

The Norwich boss admits 2009 has been unforgettable on a personal level with the lingering furore over his early season Colchester switch set to rumble on into the New Year.

“It's certainly been eventful,” he said. “It's been strange, being at Colchester one minute. I never expected this. Your main focus was on Colchester and trying to do well there, and then you get an opportunity to come here, which was only ever going to go two ways. You either couldn't get it up and running or you could do what you're doing.

“You just think football is a funny game at times. It takes you places where you think you'll never get, but that's the nature of the game. The unpredictability is a great thing. One minute you're there and you can be sitting talking to somebody else tomorrow. You just never know. But at the minute it's great the way the lads have done it. It's been eventful, I'll say that, but it's a brilliant football club to be associated with, that's for sure.”