Lambert hails promoted Norwich City
David Cuffley SLIDESHOW: Norwich City boss Paul Lambert hailed the team effort that brought his side promotion and urged supporters to “milk” the sweet smell of success. The Canaries booked their return to the Championship with Michael Nelson's first-half goal enough to earn a 1-0 victory at The Valley, the same ground where their relegation was confirmed 11 months earlier.
Norwich City boss Paul Lambert hailed the team effort that brought his side promotion and urged supporters to “milk” their side's success.
The Canaries booked their return to the Championship with Michael Nelson's first-half goal enough to earn a 1-0 victory at The Valley, the same ground where their relegation was confirmed 11 months earlier.
City need one point from the final three games to be crowned League One champions, an extraordinary turnaround for a team beaten 7-1 at home on the opening day of the season when Lambert was manager of Colchester, the team responsible for inflicting that defeat.
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Asked if he felt the squad was capable of mounting a promotion challenge when he first took charge in August, Lambert admitted: “Not when I saw them get beaten 7-1. We had good players but that doesn't matter. You have got to have a team because you can have the best players in the world but if they don't function as a team then you won't get out.
“We just had to get them playing as a team. They were good players, maybe playing a bit of an individual game at times, but collectively now they're absolutely terrific.
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“We were never favourites to go up because the squad had changed and Leeds were strong and Charlton were up there so it was really, really tough.
“Am I surprised we've done it? Probably a little bit but I had great belief that if I could get the fans on my side I knew we had a chance.”
Goalkeeper Fraser Forster and the defence performed heroics in the second half as Charlton battled to get on terms.
City, without suspended skipper Grant Holt and injured pair Wes Hoolahan and Korey Smith, held on to the delight of more than 3,000 travelling fans.
“The defensive performance was as good as it gets,” said Lambert. “I thought everyone put their body in the way, backed by a terrific goalkeeping display.
“We had three big, big players back home in Holt, Hoolahan and Smith - three massive players - so I'm delighted, absolutely delighted.”
City can clinch the title against Gillingham at Carrow Road next Saturday.
Said Lambert: “We've not won it yet. We need a point and I want to do it next week and I hope we'll have a couple of big players back.”
The 2-1 defeat at Leyton Orient on Tuesday night was forgotten as City secured their first win in London this season.
“We had a chat with the lads on Thursday and I just knew they had the belief to try to get over the line. I wasn't going to let one defeat ruin what we'd done,” said Lambert.
Former Celtic star Lambert said he was pleased for everyone connected with the club, especially the fans, who endured relegation last year.
He said: “To come back here where they were relegated last year and with some key players out I'm just delighted, absolutely delighted.
“If I were them I'd milk it, because of the desperation of last season and the horrible feeling of it and it's nice to give them something back for their efforts - for them and the players I'm absolutely delighted.
“I'm delighted for everybody and I'm sure the city of Norwich will be pretty busy tonight.”