Lambert rules out Norwich City clear-out
Chris Lakey Paul Lambert says he won't be using a sledgehammer to crack the nut that is the Championship challenge next season. With the successful 2009-10 campaign approaching its final hours, thoughts have turned to the summer - and specifically what the City manager plans in the way of changes.
Paul Lambert says he won't be using a sledgehammer to crack the nut that is the Championship challenge next season.
With the successful 2009-10 campaign approaching its final hours, thoughts have turned to the summer - and specifically what the City manager plans in the way of changes.
But anyone expecting the axe to fall on City's title-winning squad can think again as Lambert hopes to ride the wave of momentum that has left the Canaries way ahead of the field.
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“There will be one or two changes,” said Lambert. “There won't be an absolute fire sale of changes, because the club has got a winning mentality at the minute and we will try and keep it going.
“We know it is going to be hard up there, we're under no illusions how hard it's going to be, but we have earned the right to compete with everybody else and that's what we will try and do.”
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Lambert has already started planning for the new campaign, with a wish list of players already drawn up.
“I have a rough idea,” he said. “But it's alright saying you want them, it's different to try and get them out, but we're trying.
“We won't be able to compete with a lot of the bigger ones regarding the finances side of it, but money doesn't guarantee you everything. It helps you, but it doesn't guarantee you everything and we will do our best to try and get people in with what we have got.”
Lambert's “target” player, generally speaking, has an age limit of around 30 - but there's one element that's a must.
“As long as they have got hunger and desire,” he said. “That will be a big thing for me because I don't want to bring people to this club where I think they had it last season - what was it, 17 loans? And most of those loans were away, they don't care. No disrespect to them, I don't know them, but they go away and I'm pretty sure if you ask many of them they wouldn't have given a jot what has happened to Norwich in League One.
“You need hungry players. It is a desire and a hunger and the ability and if you can get that mixed together you have got a chance.”
As players come in, others go out, although Lambert will wait until after the title celebrations are over before talking to players, and backroom staff, about the future.
“When you go up a level the current group will need a hand and some new ones come in,” he said. “You are doing it for the best of the football club and for the best of the team, to get people in to give them a hand and we have to try and do that.
“The squad size is not too bad at the minute. When we first came in it was a huge squad, but we had a load of young ones in there for some reason that hadn't even played reserve football. George Francomb and Dec (Rudd) came into the fray, Jed (Steer) has been on the bench, young Tom (Adeyemi) has been round and about it - really young players who bypassed their upbringing in reserve football and all of a sudden found their way on to the bench.
“I think it was Hartlepool away and David Stephens was on the bench, Tom was on the bench.
“Now it's a different ball game because when you look at the bench now it's a lot stronger than what it was. There were young ones who hadn't done anything to learn men's football.
“People kept on telling me Norwich had a massive squad - yes, they did, but the numbers were wrong and there were a lot of young players who just weren't ready to go into that environment and if we didn't do what we did, where the experienced ones came in, we wouldn't have done it.”
“It” is promotion and the League One title, the proof of which comes this afternoon when skipper Grant Holt - recovering from ankle surgery - will watch City from the stands before walking out to collect the trophy.
Carlisle are the visitors for a match that means nothing material for either side, although Lambert is insistent that his team leave Carrow Road with a win for their fans to remember the campaign.
“You can never quite tell how it's going to go and I want to win the game, as normal,” said Lambert. “It's the last home game and we will try everything we can to win it because we will have a lot of fans here and they will come and be in the biggest party mode ever - and we will try and win it in front of their own fans. Nobody likes to lose their last game at home.”
Some things never change, with Lambert refusing to reveal his hand as far as selection goes.
Wes Hoolahan is definitely in the squad, having missed the last six games with a thigh problem. Right-back Russell Martin is fit but on-loan striker Stephen Elliott, released by Preston this week, picked up an injury at Bristol Rovers last weekend and misses out.