Norwich City boss Lambert is keeping feet on ground
Norwich City manager Paul Lambert remains the calmest man in Norwich as everyone and his dog begins to dream of Premier League football.
The Canaries’ hugely impressive 3-2 Championship win over Leicester City at the Walkers Stadium put them level on points with second-placed Swansea with 10 matches to go.
But in the wake of Tuesday’s victory over Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Foxes – a team sprinkled with famous names and Premier League loan imports – Lambert was as level-headed as ever about his team’s chances of a second successive promotion.
“There’s an opportunity to make it as exciting as we can do and that’s what we’re trying to do, to give the fans something they’ve been missing for a few years,” he said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day but we’re doing everything we can to give the club something back.”
The P-word – be it promotion or play-offs – seldom, if ever, passes his lips and he is ever mindful of City’s position when he took over just over 18 months ago, before the transformation into a League One title-winning side last May.
“I think if you go right back to the start of the season, we just wanted to survive because it was another league, it was new, and we had a lot of new players,” he said. “Whether you want to call it one-season syndrome or newness remains to be seen, but we’re up there on merit.
“We’re playing terrifically well at the minute and we’re right in it. There have been some incredible games since I have been here but we’re doing it in a higher league.”
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Victory at Leicester – secured by a goal from Wes Hoolahan, Grant Holt’s penalty and Aaron Wilbraham’s first goal for the club – was City’s eighth on their travels this season, completed their third league double and made it 10 wins and 10 draws in the last 22 Championship matches.
Ex-England boss Eriksson, watching his own side’s play-off hopes fade, had no complaints about their third defeat in four matches.
“As usual we let the smallest player on the pitch score a goal from a corner, which is not acceptable, of course. He was totally free,” he said. “You can always say unlucky penalty or unlucky third goal because it’s a deflection, but we asked for that.
“We started the second half totally without energy at all. We deserved to lose the game. I’m sorry to say that but starting the second half as we did we gave a big bonus to Norwich, too big.
“I thought after the first 45 minutes we could win this game, then the start of the second half was very bad. We can’t start the second half like that in the position we are in and with the ambitions we have.”
Eriksson viewed the defeat, which left Leicester in 10th place, as a missed opportunity to make up ground on the leading pack on a night when Queens Park Rangers, Cardiff and Nottingham Forest were all beaten and Swansea were held to a draw.
“You are even more angry when you come in and see the other results,” he said. “Of the top teams, almost all of them are losing so it’s crazy. Mathematically we still have the chance but if we want to discuss that we can’t perform as we have in the second half. We will not win many games.”