Points are priority for Lambert's men
Chris Lakey Norwich City's new-look midfield has been one of the most eye-catching features of the new season - but manager Paul Lambert insists his team can dig deep and battle when their backs are against the wall.
Norwich City's new-look midfield has been one of the most eye-catching features of the new season - but manager Paul Lambert insists his team can dig deep and battle when their backs are against the wall.
The Championship plan is a simple one - win more games than not - but the move up the league ladder has re-quired some tinkering with personnel.
In have come Andrew Crofts, David Fox and Andrew Surman, with last year's trio of Korey Smith, Simon Lappin and Darel Russell either injured, on the fringes or departed during the summer.
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The new boys have passed the ball around - it's pleasing on the eye and the performances against Newcastle and Everton have left a high level of anticipation.
But Lambert knows that there will be days when aesthetics have to give way to strength.
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“It's great to win and it's great to win in a bit of style and with a bit of drive,” he said on the eve of tonight's opener at home to Watford.
“But we have got to try and win more games than not. If we can do it playing great football, if you want to call it that, then we'll take it, but sometimes we're going to have to fight for grim death and defend with our lives to keep the ball out of the net.
“We have to win, that's what we have to try and do more than not - and we will give it a go.”
Lambert is confident his summer acquisitions mean City can cover all bases.
“I know we have got lads that are going to run, I know their work ethic will be always there because of the way they play the game, they're enthusiastic to play the game,” he said.
“Plus, I think they want to play here. It's not as if you're getting in loans who are only in here for a short time and go. The lads are here, they are the club's own players and they are the ones that hopefully, along with the fans, will drive it along.”The City management team have worked hard to ensure all players are as near as possible on the same fitness levels - with the obvious exceptions of those that are injured.
“They are nearly there,” he said. “I am happy with the way they are looking at the minute and as the games keep progressing they'll get fitter and fitter. You have got to have lads that are fit, you have got to have lads who will get about a football pitch and we are ready for it.”
A year ago Lambert was preparing to bring Colchester to Carrow Road for a match which proved to be a major turning point in the club's history: a 7-1 defeat for City prompted the managerial change which led to the League One title: it proved that the first match of a new season is neither pivotal nor irrelevant.
“It could happen again,” Lambert joked. “You try and get off to a good start, but it's one game and whatever happens is going to happen. Managers seem to have a shorter life span than anyone else. One game you could be sacked.
“It would be psychologically good to win the first game, the first home game. The fans will get behind us and it will be virtually sold out, which will be great. And it's new for us. Watford are an experienced Championship side, but we have earned the right to play up there. We will try and get on the front foot and take the game to them.
“It doesn't really bother me whether we play on a Friday or a Saturday, it's just great to be in the Championship after what we did last year and whether it's a Friday or a Saturday it makes no difference to me, whether we are on TV or not, it is another hard game.”