Norwich City boss expects O'Neill to bounce back

Chris Lakey A measure of the esteem in which Paul Lambert holds Martin O'Neill is evident: he still refers to him as 'gaffer'. 'I'm not calling him Martin - I'd still get fined for it,' he laughed.

Chris Lakey

A measure of the esteem in which Paul Lambert holds Martin O'Neill is evident: he still refers to him as “gaffer”.

“I'm not calling him Martin - I'd still get fined for it,” he laughed.

O'Neill became unemployed on Monday afternoon, resigning from Aston Villa in much the same way he departed Norwich City in December, 1995, having failed to see eye to eye with then chairman Robert Chase over player sales.


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This time it would appear to be Villa owner Randy Lerner with whom he has clashed.

Lambert knows O'Neill well - he played under the Northern Irishman at Celtic - and says he wasn't surprised by his former manager's' decision.

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“It was a surprise in a way, but then not really because I know what he's like,” he said. “I think some of the stuff I have heard coming out of some people's mouths has been terrible, when they probably don't know the real ins and outs of what the gaffer has been doing.

“It's all very well saying that he is walking out at the wrong time or whatever the case may be, but if you are selling your best players then it's tough. But he is a unique manager. He is an absolutely brilliant manager and I have nothing but the highest praise for him.”

Lambert believes O'Neill will be back - in club or even international management.

“I'm pretty sure,” he said. ”I've known him for five years so I'm pretty sure if he does come back he will come back with a hunger.

“Do I think he could do a national job? Yes - standing on his head. No problem. He galvanises clubs, there is no doubt. He galvanises crowds and people come and watch.

“You see players saying he's great. The ones that don't say he's great are the ones that can't get in his team. That's not rocket science. If you're not getting a game you obviously don't like the manager, but you are probably better off playing a bit better, then he might pick you. There is no secret in it - play as well as you can and he will pick you.”

Lambert's fellow Championship manager Steve Coppell became the first casualty of the season on Thursday when he left Bristol City - and that DID come as a shock.

“You never know the reasons why it actually happened,” said Lambert. “He has been a terrific manager in his time.

“Football management - it's as hard as hell, it's as hard as anything. When you are standing on a touchline and 100,000 fans all become managers and the one that doesn't know anything is the one that stands there. Everybody thinks they can do it, but it is not an easy thing to do.”

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