Lambert on his way to the top
Paul Lambert is more than ready to make his mark as a Premier League manager – according to the ex-Norwich City star who helped guide his career as a teenager.
Former striker Jim Bone, who scored the Canaries’ first top-flight goal nearly four decades ago, is delighted to see the club back among English football’s elite, and believes Lambert will be very much at home alongside the nation’s top bosses next season.
Bone, now a coach development officer for the Scottish FA, kept up to date with City’s progress throughout their memorable Championship campaign.
“I followed it all the way through and it’s a wonderful achievement. They thoroughly deserved to win promotion,” said Bone.
“It was all doom and gloom when Norwich were relegated a couple of years ago but they have regrouped and it just shows you how well they have done with back-to-back promotions. Not many teams do that.
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“The fact that it is Paul Lambert as manager makes it even more special to me. He was on the ground staff when I was assistant manager at St Mirren and we played him in the Scottish Cup final against Dundee United in 1987 as a 17-year-old.
“It’s difficult to say you can see a potential manager at that age but Paul was always a wonderful professional and still is.
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“He’s been a shining light through the whole of his career and, I can tell you, he will not be out of place going into the Premier League.
“He is extremely professional, always has been as a player, and is the same as a manager.”
Lambert helped St Mirren to a 1-0 win in that 1987 final but it was in Bone’s next spell at the club, as manager, that he sold Lambert to Motherwell in 1993, a move that helped set him on the road to major success with Borussia Dortmund and Celtic.
“I left and I went to Africa for a couple of years but when I came back to St Mirren as manager I spoke to Paul, after watching him play, and I told him he really needed to move on,” said Bone.
“It was me that sold him to Motherwell and that was one of the best decisions I made.
“If you look through his career he’s nearly always been at the business end of things, but he also played in a St Mirren team that got relegated and he knew how much that hurt. He knows what it is to hurt.”
Bone, 61, has a unique place in the Canaries’ history, scoring their first goal in Division One in August 1972, in a 1-1 draw against Everton at Carrow Road on the opening day of the season.
And with the Premier League fixtures out on June 17, he would love to see City kick off with the same game.
“It would be very nice, very fitting if the first game was against Everton because that was the very first game we played and Paul would be up against another Scottish manager in David Moyes,” said Bone.
“There are quite a few in the Premier League because Scottish people seem to be very good managers. Perhaps it’s the fact that the bulk of us come from working backgrounds, we know what it’s like putting working clothes on and as managers we know how to treat people. There is no class culture in Scotland.”
Former Scotland international Bone, who scored 15 goals in 51 senior games in a year with the Canaries, knows the Premier League is a very different world from the old first division encountered by Ron Saunders’ team nearly 40 years ago.
“The massive difference, of course, is that finance dictates things and the wealthiest teams are at the top of the league,” he said.
“Every now and then there is the odd club or two who stay up and fight to establish themselves and I would say Stoke City come into that bracket. But if you don’t have the finance you are usually fighting against relegation.
“If Paul was able to keep Norwich in the Premier League after the first season that would be as big an achievement as what he’s done already.
“I’m hoping to get down for a game. I’ve had flights snowed off a couple of times when I was due to come to Norwich but I still want to collect my Hall of Fame award.”