Norwich City now go from being the hunted to the hunter . . . fascinating
Deep down, every single Norwich City supporter knew this moment would come.
Lurking at the back of all of our minds was the realisation that, sooner or later, this fantastic ride, piloted by Paul Lambert and his backroom team, would come to an end.
That Lambert is an ambitious man has never been in doubt – it’s why he joined us in the first place – he could see Norwich were a club with more potential to move forward than his team at the time.
And I guess that same feeling has formed part of his decision to leave – and that will no doubt irk many a Canary fan who just needs to take one look at the end of season league table to see that we finished four places and nine points ahead of the Midlands team.
What’s more, the Carrow Road club are saddled with fewer debts – and, many would argue, better fans.
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Yet still Lambert has chosen to move on and one thing we may never find out is exactly why – no matter how much debate and speculation goes on in pubs, workplaces and on social media over the next few days.
So now he’s gone, and not exactly to a club many class as bigger and better, what feelings should Norwich fans feel towards their former manager?
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Many obviously feel angry and hurt and claim to feel let down by a perceived lack of loyalty shown to the club which has helped him to make his name. Yet is that really true or is it Lambert who has actually helped Norwich City make its name – a classic chicken and egg scenario?
For what it’s worth my feelings are a mixture of both. Disappointed this brilliant era has come to an end and that Lambert’s sights have not been set a bit higher – but I can’t feel ill of someone who did so much to make it happen.
In all walks of life people move on when they feel the need for a new challenge, so why should it be any different as far as football is concerned?
At this moment in time I’d rather look back and indulge myself in the memories of what have been an outstanding period for the club – one in which I will always look back on with a smile on my face.
It’s easy to forget just how gloomy life was at Carrow Road before Lambert (and chief executive David McNally, to be fair) walked through the door. We’d put up with several seasons of frankly dire football, before suffering the ultimate indignity of falling to our lowest point in five years. From the moment Lambert was named manager, all that changed and the trajectory of the club has been one of upwards movement. For me the Lambert era will be defined not just by his success, but the many magic moments that were part of it. The romping victories, last-minute goals, free-flowing football and brilliant end-of-season parties.
Only during our brief European flirtation have I been able to celebrate so many important goals, with such gusto.
And of course the other defining memory of the Lambert era will be his ability to spot the potential in players and bring out the best in them. Many of the crop to have been brought in by the canny Scot will go down in Norwich folklore. Let’s just hope they don’t follow him out the door.
What we don’t know at this stage is what exactly will become the legacy of the Lambert era? That’s the next question Norwich fans will be asking themselves.
I’ve said it before, but the immediate future for our club was always likely to be defined not by Lambert, but the person who replaces him.
Lambert has put in place the foundations for what could continue to be a very fruitful era, but only if the right man is put in place to build on them.
All eyes, therefore, will quickly turn to McNally and the rest of the Norwich board, as to who they have lined up to try to carry on the good work done so far. Of course we have been here before and seen it go so horribly wrong. In not dissimilar circumstances Mike Walker put in place strong foundations, only for them to collapse as players left and the wrong man came in.
A season after beating Bayern Munich, we were relegated and an all too familiar period of indifference began.
That can’t be allowed to happen again and I’m sure that’s something the powers-that-be are acutely aware of.
Over the next few days we’ll no doubt start to see familiar names bandied about with regularity.
Any Norwich fan reading this will no doubt know the names I mean and each will be mentally putting a tick or cross alongside them, ruling them out, or ruling them in.
Malky Mackay (possibly), Steve Bruce (please no), Chris Hughton (maybe), Ian Culverhouse (could be good) Ian Holloway (maybe), Lee Clark (no), Nigel Worthington (no), Neil Lennon (no), Glenn Roeder (you’ve got to be kidding?). We’ve now jumped (or been pushed) head first on to the managerial merry-go-round and because of that fans from rival clubs will be going through the same emotions we have just been put through.
We’ve been the hunted but at this moment in time we become the hunter. It’s going to be fascinating to see what we catch.