Lambert takes all pressure off players, says Martin
Chris Lakey Canaries defender Russell Martin says manager Paul Lambert is soaking up all the pressure of the promotion chase and leaving his players to concentrate on nothing but football.
Canaries defender Russell Martin says manager Paul Lambert is soaking up all the pressure of the promotion chase and leaving his players to concentrate on nothing but football.
With the race for the top taking another twist at the weekend, Martin says Lambert's leadership has helped City maintain their inexorable charge up the table which has put them right on the shoulders of leaders Leeds.
By Saturday evening City could be top of the table - and Martin says it's the Lambert style of management that fans have to thank.
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Lambert - targeted from the moment he arrived at Colchester on Saturday for the grudge match against his former employers - has consistently praised his players and credited them for the success that saw them stretch their unbeaten run to 13 matches.
“You just know he will back you when things go against you and take the pressure off you,” said Martin.
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“If he feels he has made a mistake he will accept the blame and if he feels the players haven't done the job for him, he will tell us.
“He breeds confidence among the lads, he is a brave manager who says what he thinks and he takes all the pressure off of us - and he did that all last week. He just said to us, 'it's another game, don't worry about all that stuff about the game, it's just a sideshow'.
“We went out on to the pitch early on Saturday and he was getting abused even then by some people in a box, but he's played in front of 40,000 at Celtic and I'm sure when it was Rangers at Ibrox he had worse than that.”
Martin has good reason to enjoy trips to Colchester - last April he led the Peterborough side which won there to clinch promotion to the Championship through the second spot the Canaries now occupy.
“I've had a couple of good occasions here,” he said. “Last year was brilliant, coming up here and getting a 1-0 win, and this win is right up there, because of the way the boys played and in the conditions as well, keeping a clean sheet and scoring five goals - and it could have been a couple more as well.
“It's testament to the lads, especially the lads who were involved at the start of the season in that game they lost 7-1 and it proved a few things.”
City's current unbeaten run includes just two draws, with eight clean sheets - six of them in the last eight games.
“We were disappointed to concede against Exeter last week, it was a poor goal, but we have kept six clean sheets in eight now, we're on a really good run and the lads are just enjoying the feeling,” said Martin.
“Michael Nelson and Gary Doherty were colossal at Colchester, heading just about everything. We knew we were going to get that because of the way Colchester are direct and that makes it easier for me and Adam Drury.
“Adam has been doing it for nine years at this club, he is so consistent and for me he is the best left back in the league by a mile and it's good to play with the lads - they are all experienced and I am really enjoying it.”
The next target is Leeds, who are just three points away with a game in hand.
“If we had lost or drawn Colchester could still catch us, but this now drags us a little bit further away again and Leeds lost at Exeter, so it's three points closer to Leeds,” said Martin. “That makes it a huge result.
“To be honest we approached it the same as any other game. It was billed by the media as a massive game, but for us every game is big now.
“Teams want to come and play against Norwich - whether it's away or Carrow Road, there are big crowds and they want to beat us and take a scalp.
“The lads keep passing the test every week, but this win could be significant - we have proved that we can come and play in poor conditions against a direct team and we can deal with that side of it and we can play that way ourselves if we need to - and still at times, considering the conditions, we can play some good football.”