'We were so close' - Lambert's rare reflection on his success at City
- Credit: Simon Finlay/Archant library
Paul Lambert has rarely talked about his success as Norwich City manager since his tumultuous 2012 exit but the Scot has recently spoken of his ‘fantastic’ three years with the Canaries.
Out of work since losing his job in February after an unsuccessful time at Ipswich, the former Celtic and Scotland midfielder has been speaking about his career as part of a League Managers’ Association series on the YouTube channel of the University Campus of Football Business.
Although Lambert’s managerial career tailed off at Aston Villa, Blackburn, Wolves and Stoke before his unpopular decision to join City’s local rivals, he inspired a rise from League One to the Premier League which culminated in mid-table security before his exit.
Led by players including Grant Holt, Wes Hoolahan and Russell Martin, the Canaries surged to the League One title in 2010 and automatic promotion from the Championship in 2011, with Lambert assisted by City legend Ian Culverhouse.
However, his decision to join Villa in 2012 turned ugly when both Norwich and Lambert sued each other for breach of contract, with the Scot claiming he had resigned.
It was eventually settled in December 2012 without the need for a tribunal with City agreeing to pay the Scot a bonus for the 2011-12 season ending in 12th place and Villa agreeing to pay compensation.
That followed less than a fortnight after Lambert had revelled in his on-pitch celebrations at Carrow Road after the Villans had won a League Cup quarter-final 4-1.
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“It was fantastic but the guys were great. We were so close together as a team, they were really easy to manage, really easy," Lambert told UFCB TV.
“We didn’t have a lot of money at that particular time but what we did have was incredible team spirit, incredible character.
“We had some really good players, really good players, who I was so happy to see them go on and play in the Premier League when a lot of people had probably doubted them a little bit.
“They had great careers themselves, a lot of them. So I’ll always thank them for what they did because they were great on and off the pitch, some great moments off the pitch as well where we were really close and on the pitch everybody would fight to achieve what we wanted to achieve.
“But for Norwich at the time to do it, especially with the way the finances were at that time, were really struggling.
“But we had a good board, good owners and I think everybody just pulled together; the support, the team, the owners, the chief exec – everybody pulled together.
“I think that was the success of having the two promotions back to back.”
Lambert was named LMA Championship Manager of the Season after promotion in 2011 and was inducted into City’s Hall of Fame for his success with the club.
However, his return to Carrow Road as Ipswich manager in February 2019 proved particularly sour, being sent to the stands and held back by a police officer as tempers boiled over between both teams, as the Blues lost 3-0 to Daniel Farke’s eventual champions as they continued sinking towards relegation.
During press conferences before and after the game, Lambert did his best to avoid talking about his time at Norwich despite several attempts from the media, insisting he was only focused on the Tractor Boys.