Russell: Lambert has Scot the lot
Michael Bailey Darel Russell has hailed the Paul Lambert effect as he looks to put the 'worst season of his career' behind him - with the help of the Norwich City faithful. The midfielder has been instrumental in Norwich's swift improvement under Lambert - but for Russell, City's turnaround comes down to the Scot and his coaching team.
Darel Russell has hailed the Paul Lambert effect as he looks to put the “worst season of his career” behind him - with the help of the Norwich City faithful.
After a difficult pre-season under Bryan Gunn, redemption was in the air as the Barclay sung Russell's name towards the end of City's 4-1 win over Brighton on Tuesday.
The midfielder has been instrumental in Norwich's swift improvement under Lambert - but for Russell, City's turnaround comes down to the Scot and his coaching team.
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“I don't want to sound like I'm licking up to the manager, but to be honest with you we're a completely different team, there's a different approach to how things are done and it's 10 times more professional than I've ever known it,” said Russell.
“Training is different class, we're training hard and we're doing it right, and perhaps those things weren't right before. I think it's showing in the strength and the sharpness the boys have, and also the confidence that we're starting to breed.
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“We're training as we're going out and playing, and it's all credit to the way they've come in and changed the regime.”
Russell was grateful for a rousing Carrow Road reception following his 85th minute substitution in midweek, especially considering a summer of speculation that he wanted out of the club after City's Championship relegation.
Of the reception, Russell said: “Much appreciated; that little bit of inspiration helps you drive on.
“I understand their frustrations from the early part of the season where I wasn't involved. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and to express it as well; that's why they come. I've got to be a big enough character to understand that and accept it, and I did.
“Whatever might have been thought, hopefully I've proved I'll always go out and give 100 per cent. I've always done that in my career and every time I've played here, at Carrow Road or away.
“I was failed a little bit last year in terms of me being played up front, trying to help the team - and ruin my season, to be honest with you. The worst season of my career was last year.
“Because of a lack of players and other things, I was there filling in for other people and it was disappointing from my front.
“Hopefully I can get that behind me and continue on. Obviously the situation at the start of the season was disgusting how it was dealt with and handled, but I'm playing now so that's it.”
One of the major talking points from Tuesday's win was a 21-man first half brawl after Dean Cox and Russell collided - and at one point it looked like Russell would end up seeing red from referee Keith Hill after the ensuing ruck.
“To be honest I'm shocked I even got booked in it,” said Russell. “It was a tackle, the guy done me and I think their big lad Dickinson just seemed to jump on top of me for whatever reason, but he apologised after and said it was nothing, so it's done and dusted. Even the ref said it probably looked so bad he had to book somebody.
“They've got some big lads, Brighton. You stood in the tunnel next to them and you noticed that. But there's no fear in this team, from little Wes to big Jens, we'll all fight and stick together and that's good.
“Especially when we had the little scrap, all the boys jumped in and were there around it, and that just shows the team spirit and strength of character we have.”
Not that Russell wants to become a regular in the notebooks of League One referees.
“I'm trying to keep the bookings down this year and keep myself on the pitch, and I think I've done pretty well until the last couple of games,” said Russell.
“Hopefully I can keep myself out of trouble as much as possible, but if there's tackles there to be won I've got to and win them. The most important thing is stopping them playing and getting us playing.”