Lambert is coping with levels of expectation

Jonathan Redhead Paul Lambert's tenure as Norwich City boss has been almost faultless since he took up the cudgels in August. Back then, City only had a single point to show from their first three games, including 'that game' against Colchester United.

Jonathan Redhead

Paul Lambert's tenure as Norwich City boss has been almost faultless since he took up the cudgels in August.

Back then, City only had a single point to show from their first three games, including 'that game' against Colchester United.

Fast forward to today and the Canaries entertain a struggling Oldham Athletic side at Carrow Road, with their eyes firmly focused on the top two rather than the bottom two.


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A total of 34 league points from 16 matches for Lambert and his men have propelled City up to the heady heights of third in the table - just four points off an automatic promotion spot.

The 3-0 win at Southend this week saw another minor milestone achieved when City leapfrogged the Colchester side which did so much damage to them on a sunny afternoon in August.

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With Simon Grayson, boss of leaders Leeds United, insisting his side are well ahead of schedule in the race to the Championship, then what about City after their disastrous first month? Surely they are ahead of plan too?

Not quite, according to Lambert yesterday who says expectancy levels dictate City have to be near the top.

"If I'd asked you after the Colchester game what would you say? Or Exeter or Brentford?" he said. "That's the way I look at it. We came in here with a point. People's perception of this football club and the expectation levels, I always said, are really, really high and we've come a really long way in a short space of time.

"I think if you asked a lot of people they wouldn't have thought we'd be in this position, that's for sure.

"I just think that being at a big club, you've got to win more games than not."

It may be a clich�, but the City boss is still keen to look no further ahead than the next game, despite a current seven-match unbeaten streak in the league and the progress his side have made as the nights have drawn in.

"I never look to the future really, I never live in the past or anything like that, I just like to take a game at a time and that's what the lads have done themselves," he said.

"They've taken one game at a time and they've done brilliant to be fair to them.

"But if I turned to you lads and said 'we're ahead of schedule' then all you're doing is creating an expectancy level even more.

"I don't need somebody to tell me the expectancy level of this club, because I can see it. I can see by fans' reaction and I can see everything that goes on.

"Honestly, I'd love to have sat here when it was going really bad at times, I really would have, just to see what it was like.

"But the expectancy level at the football club I don't think will change from now until the year dot, basically."

City face a side just four points and two places above the League One relegation zone and will be heavy favourites to inflict another defeat on a Latics side managed by Dave Penney who have lost five of their last six.

But true to form, Lambert says it will be a tough test at Carrow Road, which has become a fortress in the league since the opening day catastrophe.

"It's a tough game. No matter where people are in the league it's really tough to win football matches," he said. "They'll come and the onus is on us to make the running. We'll have a massive crowd behind us again. Oldham have had up and down results. Dave Penney, who I have got a lot of time for, is a really good manager.

"We'll have to be on top of our game, and if we're on top of our game then hopefully we'll win it.

"I think you've got to win your home games and if you pick up points away from home then you'll be there or thereabouts. At home you have to try to win more games than not."

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