Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish hails ‘exceptional’ Norwich City
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has heaped praise on Norwich City boss Paul Lambert as the two prepare for touchline battle again.
The Canaries earned a 1-1 draw at Anfield in October, one of the outstanding results of the season on their return to the Premier League.
The rematch comes in tomorrow’s televised late kick-off at Carrow Road (5.30pm), with City just three points behind the FA Cup finalists and Carling Cup winners. And Dalglish, Lambert’s old boss for a short period at Celtic in the 1999-2000 season, praised his fellow countryman’s achievements with Norwich in his first season as a top-flight manager.
“They have been exceptional and Paul has been exceptional,” said Dalglish.
“They play the way Paul was brought up playing throughout his career in Scotland and Germany. He has his principles and beliefs.
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“The job he has done has been fantastic.”
Dalglish applauded Lambert’s record in the transfer market, and forecast more shrewd business in strengthening the City squad in the close season.
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“Last summer he got some decent players in and spent the money he had very wisely,” said Dalglish.
“I’m sure he will be looking to progress again next season and for the club to match his ambition. He will be looking to go back into the transfer market in the summer to enhance their squad, not because anyone has done badly for him but just because it’s natural progression.
“I’m sure after the way he spent it last time he will spend it wisely again.”
Dalglish also had words of praise for City top scorer Grant Holt, who came off the bench to earn a point with a brilliant header in front of the Kop when the sides last met, one of his 13 Premier League goals this season.
“It’s always pleasing to see someone like Grant do well with honest endeavour,” he said.
“No one gets anywhere without working hard. Unfortunately for us he scored here in the first league game.
“It was a mirror image of most of the games we’ve played there. Their goalkeeper made a magnificent save near the end and we hit the woodwork.
“I just hope he has a bad day on Saturday. We want the three points.”
The Canaries will reach another landmark tomorrow – playing their 200th Premier League game since the split from the Football League in 1992. The previous 199 matches have brought 61 wins, 61 draws and 77 defeats.
City, 13th in the table, will move level on points with eighth-placed Liverpool if they win, but they have won only two of their last nine home league games.
Striker James Vaughan, who spent seven years with the Reds’ big rivals, Everton, could start a home match for the first time since his �1.5m summer move after playing the first hour of last week’s 2-0 defeat at Blackburn.
Lambert was today expected to give an update on the fitness of ex-Liverpool defender Zak Whitbread, who has missed four games with a calf injury.
Whitbread missed the chance to face his former club in the first meeting at Anfield through injury and it will be cruel luck if he is ruled out of another potential reunion.
City’s other former Liverpool centre-back, Daniel Ayala, is already ruled out for the rest of the season by a knee injury, along with full-back Marc Tierney, recovering from a groin operation.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is back in training after being left out of the squad for Sunday’s home defeat by West Bromwich Albion in order to protect a minor hamstring niggle, but fellow midfielder Charlie Adam has had his season ended by injury.
Central midfield has been a problem area for Dalglish this season with Gerrard making just five appearances between August and December after groin and then ankle problems.
He then lost Brazil international Lucas Leiva in November to a knee injury that required surgery.
Adam was injured in the 3-2 defeat at Queens Park Rangers on March 21, and Dalglish confirmed his fellow Scot would not be returning before the summer break.
“There is no operation needed but he won’t play this season,” said the Reds boss, who also warned Great Britain coach Stuart Pearce that Adam was unlikely to be available for consideration in his London 2012 plans.
“And I would think if they had any designs on having him in the Olympics he wouldn’t be fit for that either.”