Norwich City boss can rise to the very top
Former Arsenal star Lee Dixon believes Canaries boss Paul Lambert represents the future of football management – and may eventually find himself filling the shoes of such names as Ars�ne Wenger.
Lambert’s Norwich City side had to play second fiddle to the Gunners at Carrow Road on Saturday but off the back of successive promotions since his arrival, the Scot’s reputation continues to blossom as one of English football’s top up-and-coming managers.
Dixon won four league titles during his 14-year spell at Arsenal under the likes of George Graham and Wenger, so the 47-year-old knows a decent manager when he sees one.
And with the changing relationship between players and manager, Dixon believes Lambert’s style – and that of Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers – represent where football should head.
“Paul Lambert and Brendan Rodgers are two of the brightest young managers about and I would be fascinated to hear and see how they deal with their players,” said Dixon.
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“I like the look of Lambert. He sends his team out to be positive no matter the opposition or venue. He and Rodgers are the front-runners for the next generation and look to have a very different approach to what I was used to as a player.
“Norwich are more than willing to have a go at teams under Lambert’s direction. Management is constantly evolving and in Lambert maybe there is an emerging successor to the likes of the man in the away dugout last Saturday.”
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Following his glittering playing career Lambert, 42, already has management spells at Livingston, Wycombe and Colchester United – and completed 100 games in charge of Norwich at Villa Park 10 days ago. At the same age Wenger was winning the Coupe de France with Monaco, while Graham was winning his first piece of Silverware at Highbury.
And Dixon feels the three managers represent clear progression in the role of a football manager.
“When I arrived at Arsenal in 1988 George was in the process of building a team,” Dixon wrote in The Independent. “He was a sergeant major-type and if you got your steps wrong on the parade ground you got an absolute rollocking.
“The problem with such a strict regime was that some players then looked for a release off the pitch, and an environment developed at Arsenal that when it came to letting your hair down, boy, was it let down…
“For a time George actually managed to use that to his benefit…but that can’t last for ever. His style of management has more or less gone from the top flight. Players are more powerful and the balance has tipped in their favour.
“Sir Alex Ferguson still has that fear factor but I’m sure he would admit his style of management is markedly different now from what it was when he was going head to head with his fellow Scot at Highbury.
“Wenger has always afforded his players more respect, listened to their opinions and encouraged them to speak up.
“His basic philosophy has not changed a bit over the 15 years he has been at Arsenal and over the teams he has built and rebuilt.
“He has managed the transition of his teams expertly.”