Norwich City show their flexibility
Chris Lakey Paul Lambert praised his players for adapting to different formations as the Canaries took another step towards promotion. The City boss has been forced into changes in midfield because of Darel Russell's three-match suspension.
Paul Lambert praised his players for adapting to different formations as the Canaries took another step towards promotion.
The City boss has been forced into changes in midfield because of Darel Russell's three-match suspension.
At Boundary Park he started with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Chris Martin right, Anthony McNamee left and Wes Hoolahan playing just off of leading scorer Grant Holt.
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Later in the game McNamee went right, Hoolahan left and Martin moved alongside Holt in a more traditional-looking 4-4-2.
And then, with City a goal up and a late Oldham charge on the way, he increased the level of resistance by taking off Hoolahan, pushing Simon Lappin wide to the left and switching Russell Martin into midfield.
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When the final whistle came, perhaps tactics were the last thing on people's minds as the prospect of an instant return to the Championship increased. But Lambert is working with relatively meagre resources - and they're taking up the challenge.
"We changed it," he said. "We changed Wes, he came out where Chris was, and vice-versa, and we changed it again," he said.
"The lads can adapt - it showed me they can adapt to different formations, which is great."
Perhaps the biggest question was whether or not Hoolahan and McNamee could play in the same team - the way they combined to set up Holt simply cofirmed that they could.
"I always keep saying we have to try and win more games than not and the best way I think is to try and attack people and I thought the two of them did fine," said Lambert.
Satisfyingly for Lambert, the changes are coming with a squad that is relatively short on senior numbers, but he always maintained his squad "needed a bit of help" and his own transfer acquisitions appear to be slotting in seamlessly.
"When you look at the squad it's littered with a lot of young ones as well, and Macca (McNamee) coming in and Russell Martin coming in and Oli (Johnson) coming in - we don't have the same amount of money due to what's happened at the club, but what we do, we try and make the best of it, allied to the lads that were already here and as a team we have been terrific."
Victory was achieved by Grant Holt's 53rd-minute goal, his 25th of the season, aided by a quality late stop by Fraser Forster and a goal-line clearance by Korey Smith.
"Grant was terrific," said Lambert. "And he gets back on the goal trail and it will do his confidence the world of good again. I've been delighted with Grant throughout the whole season. It's a tough place to come and difficult conditions and I'm delighted with the lads. I thought we had a few chances in the first half to maybe finish the game, but we didn't take them. After Grant scored we were hanging on at the death and Fraser made a great save - but it's another big one.
"If we took our chances in the first half we might not be in that position, but I'm delighted with the lads."
City went into the game knowing that Leeds had drawn 2-2 at Huddersfield - and that victory would give them a five-point lead.
"Yes, we heard, but we can't influence what happens anywhere else," said Lambert. "All we can do is try and do our own and it's another big three points."