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Norwich & Coventry - genuine contenders?

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Paul Fletcher | 18:42 UK time, Saturday, 18 December 2010

At the Ricoh Arena.

Norwich City manager Paul Lambert is refusing to discuss the prospect of his team winning promotion. Instead, he answers every question about his team's lofty position by stating that he is simply focused on securing enough points to avoid relegation.

In stark contrast, Coventry boss Aidy Boothroyd has recently been talking in terms of his team not only remaining in the top six but keeping the pressure on the top two.

Their words perhaps reflect their different personalities more than the relative prospects of their club's ending the season celebrating promotion.

Lambert is a cagey Scot, committed and passionate but careful with his words. He does not elaborate with his answers when a short and crisp reply will suffice.

Boothroyd is affable, witty and extraordinarily positive and upbeat. He is prone to management speak - 'possible impossibles' being one such example - but it is difficult not to like a man who is happy to discuss his team with great passion.

Their sides met at a cold and snowy Ricoh Arena on Saturday, with Norwich's deserved 2-1 victory ensuring that they moved above Coventry and into fifth place in the Championship.

Norwich City manager Paul Lambert.

Lambert led Norwich to the League One title last season. Credit: Getty Images

I have seen Norwich several times since Lambert succeeded Bryan Gunn as boss in August 2009 and have always been impressed by their style and desire. They won the League One title last season and, after a summer of shrewd recruitment with the likes of Andrew Surman, David Fox and former Coventry defender Elliot Ward arriving at Carrow Road, Norwich have adjusted well to life in the Championship.

They have not lost back-to-back matches under Lambert and are currently on a run of just one defeat in their last eight fixtures. They showed a clinical streak in defeating local rivals Ipswich 4-1 in their recent meeting and were patient and composed against Coventry on Saturday. Their bold 4-3-3 formation against the in-form Sky Blues showed they have the confidence to try to win tricky away games rather than play for a point and in Arsenal loanee Henri Lansbury they possess a midfielder with the ability to prise open the opposition.

The key man for Norwich is clearly striker Grant Holt, who has become something of a talisman for the Canaries. Their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Portsmouth last weekend was the first time Norwich had failed to score since mid-October. Holt, who scored 30 goals last season, was suspended for that fixture, but returned to score both of his team's goals at Coventry.

"He has been brilliant for me from day one," said Lambert of the 29-year-old former Nottingham Forest striker. "He is an old style number nine and there are not many of those about."

Norwich are now two points off Leeds in second place and if you press Lambert on the subject of his team staying the distance, it becomes obvious that his ambitions stretch far beyond avoiding the drop this season.

"I have my own thoughts and the lads know what I think," added the Scot, who won the 1997 Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund and collected numerous titles during a lengthy spell at Celtic.

"I have been in some really good dressing rooms at certain times in my career but the one here is as good as any."

Without doubt, Norwich are a club on an upward trajectory but Lambert points to an injury list that includes Adam Drury, Steven Smith, Zak Whitbread, Surman and Matt Gill as he attempts to douse expectations.

Boothroyd is not an individual who is prone to playing down a situation and his breezy outlook is proving to be a neat fit at a club in desperate need of some good news. The Sky Blues have been rattling around the lower reaches of the Championship since their 34-year tenure in the top flight ended in 2001.Coventry flirted with administration in 2007 and narrowly avoided the drop in 2008. They have finished higher than 10th ONLY once since they dropped out of the Premier League.

However, Boothroyd appears to have built a renewed sense of spirit and belief since arriving after walking out on Colchester in May. I canvassed the opinion of supporters on 606 and they were generous in their praise of the Yorkshireman. Jon_Covfan said that the manager had "instilled a confidence and never-say-die attitude that had been missing for years", while Scamalot added: "I was not sure when he was appointed but he is trying to build a feeling of family and togetherness."

Coventry City manager Aidy Boothroyd.

Boothroyd was appointed Coventry manager in May. Photo: Getty Images

One of Boothroyd's shrewdest signings has beenthe capture of midfielder Lee Carsley after he was released by Birmingham City. Carsley, a former Coventry player, won promotion from the Championship with Blues in 2008 and has brought experience and wisdom to the team. His absence through suspension on Saturday was a big loss.

"I have been really impressed with the manager," said Carsley of Boothroyd. "He is energetic and his up-and-at-em enthusiasm rubs off on people. I think he is what the club needed and his knowledge and organisation is very good."

Carsley told me that Boothroyd had worked extremely hard on the training ground to familiarise his players with the style of play that proved so successful at Watford, who won promotion to the Premier League in 2006. Boothroyd's teams often bypass the midfield with long passes towards the strikers. The theory is that his attacking players are then brought into the game by knock-downs from the target men.

It is a style of play that has seen his detractors nickname him Aidy Hoofroyd. Burnley defender Clarke Carlisle wrote on his blog after his team's recent match against Coventry: "When you are playing against Aidy Boothroyd's style of play it feels so anti-football."

Boothroyd's style was evident again on Saturday, as his players constantly sought out the physically imposing strike duo of Clive Platt and Marlon King. However, the home team's failure to retain possession and build pressure reminded me of something else that Carlsey told me.

"The gaffer wants to attack and get the ball forward," added Carsley. "But I think he would be the first to say that once we are in the final third our quality has to be better. I think that is what we are lacking at the moment."

It would be harsh to judge Coventry too much on the basis of Saturday's performance because they played most of the game with 10 men following the dismissal of Aron Gunnarsson after 36 minutes. Boothroyd was typically upbeat afterwards, insisting that he had been pleased with the dogged and rugged qualities that helped Coventry briefly level the scores at 1-1 through a crisp King strike.

What did concern him was the defending. Regardless of what you think of Coventry's style of play - and I get the impression that many of the club's supporters are willing to forgo direct tactics if it brings some long-awaited success - there is no doubt that their defending has been excellent. Keiren Westwood is a very talented keeper and the team had kept four clean sheets prior to Saturday. However, both Norwich goals came after Holt had been left unmarked in dangerous areas and Boothroyd was left to lament the basic errors that he works so hard on the training ground to eradicate.

Coventry now face testing games against Cardiff and QPR but Boothroyd insisted his team go into the festive fixtures with an over-riding mood of optimism. Lambert was more circumspect as he looked towards a busy period that will see his side play four games in nine days.

The contrast in styles of their teams would make for an interesting boxing match; Coventry direct and powerful, capable of a knockout blow, while Norwich bob and weave as they attempt to find a flaw in the opposition defence.

And in a season when it is looking increasingly likely that there are no stand-out sides in the Championship, it would be not be a huge surprise if one of them was still standing come the end of the campaign.

You can follow me throughout the season at twitter.com/Paul__Fletcher

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Since the appointment of Paul Lambert, we City fans have certainly become 'glass half full' merchants.

    I hope he stays with us for a long, long time

  • Comment number 2.

    Paul Lambert, a secret Norwich fans want to keep under our hats.

    With respect, mr fletcher, we don't want any more articles on our managerial masterpiece. (untill the end of the season, maybe written from, say, Wembley?)

  • Comment number 3.

    Now then - I should mention that Coventry have now lost all their games this season against opposition in the top six. Worrying?

  • Comment number 4.

    An interesting read, nice to see you taking an interest in our clubs Paul. I hope you enjoyed the match and it was worth braving the big freeze (and a tiresome journey?) for.

    Interestingly, while Lambert's League One success was covered here (and rightly so), there was no mention of Boothroyd's failure at Colchester. Which I feel is particularly pertinent, given that there are many similarities between the form of Colchester last season and Coventry this season, up to this point.

    Up until January Colchester were looking good for top two as Boothroyd's direct tactics paid dividends, but it was at this point that his side seemed to get ''found out,'' and Colchester went on a horrendous run that saw them not only fail to break into the top two, but also miss out on the play-offs in their entirety.

    My point being therefore that Boothroyd's ability to instil a ''feelgood'' factor and string together some results in the short term has never been in question; what is in question is his ability to sustain that success beyond a certain length of time, particularly when he has to deal in the transfer market. The exception of course is when he took Watford to the Premier League, though that was different in some respects as he as a manager was an unknown quantity and took everyone by surprise. Nowadays everyone knows Aidy's tactics and how to deal with them, and furthermore, they know that if the results don't come, fans will be quick to turn on a manager and team that not only fails to put points on the board, but also fails to entertain. It's a lose-lose situation that means that Aidy always flies by the seat of his pants, so-to-speak, and perhaps more than any other football league manager, will live or die by his results.

    Of course the best way to deal with Boothroyd's teams is to cut out the mistakes and do the simple stuff right - something Norwich failed to do today for King's goal. That's 9 games without a clean sheet now for us (in spite of our good form), and it's surely worth a mention that if there is one big weakness in the Norwich side, it is a somewhat leaky defence (30 goals conceded already in 22 games).

    It is that, and a lengthy injury list (as to be fair you could point to our having had no proper LB available for a month now), that I consider to be the main obstacles to our gaining promotion. Otherwise, you won't hear anything other than contented praise for the players and, most of all, the magnificent job that Lambert has done, from Norwich fans.

  • Comment number 5.

    An interesting read, nice to see you taking an interest in our clubs Paul. I hope you enjoyed the match and it was worth braving the big freeze (and a tiresome journey?) for.

    Interestingly, while Lambert's League One success was covered here (and rightly so), there was no mention of Boothroyd's failure at Colchester. Which I feel is particularly pertinent, given that there are many similarities between the form of Colchester last season and Coventry this season, up to this point.

    Up until January Colchester were looking good for top two as Boothroyd's direct tactics paid dividends, but it was at this point that his side seemed to get ''found out,'' and Colchester went on a horrendous run that saw them not only fail to break into the top two, but also miss out on the play-offs in their entirety.

    My point being therefore that Boothroyd's ability to instil a ''feelgood'' factor and string together some results in the short term has never been in question; what is in question is his ability to sustain that success beyond a certain length of time, particularly when he has to deal in the transfer market. The exception of course is when he took Watford to the Premier League, though that was different in some respects as he as a manager was an unknown quantity and took everyone by surprise. Nowadays everyone knows Aidy's tactics and how to deal with them, and furthermore, they know that if the results don't come, fans will be quick to turn on a manager and team that not only fails to put points on the board, but also fails to entertain. It's a lose-lose situation that means that Aidy always flies by the seat of his pants, so-to-speak, and perhaps more than any other football league manager, will live or die by his results.

    Of course the best way to deal with Boothroyd's teams is to cut out the mistakes and do the simple stuff right - something Norwich failed to do today for King's goal. That's 9 games without a clean sheet now for us (in spite of our good form), and it's surely worth a mention that if there is one big weakness in the Norwich side, it is a somewhat leaky defence (30 goals conceded already in 22 games).

    It is that, and a lengthy injury list (as to be fair you could point to our having had no proper LB available for a month now), that I consider to be the main obstacles to our gaining promotion. Otherwise, you won't hear anything other than contented praise for the players and, most of all, the magnificent job that Lambert has done, from Norwich fans.

  • Comment number 6.

    Just another thought Paul, but do you not think that (although the contrasting comments are typical of two different personalities), perhaps Lambert is more clever with his comments to the press than Boothroyd is? I often get the feeling that the latter is heaping unnecessary pressure on himself and his players. While (I think) you are right to discern a private confidence and ambition in Lambert's attitude, I think that his public comments are spot on - they deflect pressure from the players and prevent any unnecessary stargazing, which conflicts with ''taking it one game at a time'', which surely must be the secret to all great teams' success.

    Not that I think he's too congratulatory in private. For a dour ''cagey Scot'', Lambert isn't shy with praise for his players - when he feels it is warranted. In fact I think his man-management is fantastic, as he always couches such praise in a way that makes it meaningful and earnest, but not so exultant as to allow the players to relax or get too full of themselves. Classic carrot and the stick stuff, and if nothing else, Lambert proves that, even in the modern world today, the importance of a good manager is paramount. I hate to think where we would be now if it weren't for his appointment last August. Somewhere around mid-table in League One, probably. He really has made that much of a difference.

    As it is though, a good work ethic underpins a Norwich side that has few superstars but is most definitely more than the sum of its parts. You get the feeling that the sense of togetherness could be just as, if not more, valuable to Norwich than the contributions that individual stars like Bellamy and Taarabt can make to their respective sides. It could take us very far, and I see similarities between ourselves and Blackpool.

  • Comment number 7.

    I gave Lambert 2 years before he is managing a club in the Prem, may well be with Norwich.

  • Comment number 8.

    I personally think Lambert is a fantastic manager. If Norwich are lucky, they will go up and keep hold of him, because it wont be long before some bigger clubs come knocking. Norwich have a good enough set of supporters to be a fregular fixture in the Prem league, and now a manager to boot. I see play offs - minimum.

    Cov on the other hand, im just not sold on. They have Championship players and a mid table manager. Im not sold on Boothroyd at all. He did well to get Watford up, but took them straight back down and they were in financial trouble soon after. He didnt succeed at Colchester either. IMO there are far better teams in the Championship.

    QPR are following Sheff Uniteds path when they went up in 2005/6. Flying start and then got pegged back and finished 2nd (just) to Reading. I personally dont think QPR's team or squad is the best in this league, and i don't think they'll finish top. Play offs or 2nd, unless Warnock makes some good signings in the window.

    Cardiff have had huge expectations placed on them by Bellamys signing, Bothroyds England call up and their flying start. This pressure may work against them.

    Leeds have had no pressure at all this year, and incredibly the majority of fans would just be happy with not going down - this is the first time in 7 years, when fans expectations have not been promotion. After some heavy early defeats, this feeling was added to. Funnily enough, it seems the pressure of expectation was removed and the club/team is thriving. With some wise investment in the transfer window, they could well go up. The biggest worry is Graysons love of loan signings and tinkering with the team.

    All in all, a very exciting league - although lacking in real quality.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    excellent blog again Paul. I quite like Norwich for the playoffs this season but I can't see Coventry cutting it from what I've seen top 2 for me will be QPR and Cardiff

  • Comment number 11.

    poster 9...ur, no

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Nice post, Paul. Ta.

    I think Phil is missing the point with his comments regarding Boothroyd and the fact that there are better teams in the Championship than the Sky Blues.

    As a Coventry fan; whilst I can agree with the sentiment, Boothroyd started from a position of nigh-on negative equity. A horrendous spanking on the last day of last season saw the instant removal of Chris Coleman and the foundations, however flawed, that he'd been laying. As with many of our managers of the last decade (probably only Eric Black aside), we had started positively only to be clinging on to safety towards the back end of the season.

    The players lacked confidence, the fans voted with their feet and the flag of perennial strugglers, stowed away upon our Premier League exit, was unfurled once more.

    Boothroyd's puppy-dog optimism has given us our belief back. We are tough. We are dogged. We no longer roll over (I changed 'rough' to 'tough' as we don't want to drown in rubbish canine puns).

    Chibba points to Ady's 'Feelgood Factor' - and it's certainly there. Boothroyd is smart though. He learns from his successes & failures. Yes there's the long ball, certainly no worse than under Coleman in my opinion, but there are partnerships. Working on the understanding 'twixt full back and wide man, so for the first time in ages we've an effective right back going forwards (our only two left backs have been injured all season). We've lost three games on the trot too, but we were able to recover with 4 back to back clean sheets. We're hitting hurdles, but we're getting back up.

    Paul points out that we've lost to the the other teams in top 6. Leeds beat us handsomely. Cardiff scraped a lucky winner in the last minute. The Swansea manager said we were one of the best sides to play there this season, and we've yet to play QPR. . Last season - Cardiff were in the playoffs, Swansea were in 7th, Leeds and Norwich were promoted, and QPR have their bundles of cash. Coventry finished in 19th, 7 points off relegation. No-one would've predicted us for the play-offs on the back of the last decade, but we're doing OK

    So yes, there are better teams, of course there are. I just doubt there are that many teams more improved than Coventry City.

  • Comment number 14.

    Good article Paul, and some excellent points raised by Chibba.
    Disappointing to see Huckerby_the_holy's comments got moderated - he's normally so spot on with his astute observations ;-)

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    Now then - how do you stop babies with an ear infection/snotty nose/chronic teething from crying? Slightly playing on my mind, that's all.

    Thanks to canary_chibba for a couple of excellent posts - the first was so good he left it twice.

    He (or she) makes an excellent point about the loss of form at Colchester last season. I saw Norwich beat them 5-0 - and there was definitely an absence of form that day. Watford also tailed off in their promotion season - from leaders to a side that slightly sneaked into the play-offs. I reckon Booothroyd's style is quite suited to the winner takes all, rough and tumble of the play-offs.

    However, I'm not so sure that his team had been 'found out' last season. I think he might have a squad more suited to his style this season and it will be interesting to see where they are by, say, February and the start of the long run for home.

    As for Lambert praising his players - yep, you're right. I've heard him be generous with his words a couple of times. He is loath to single out individuals - and when he does I have noticed that he often adds that such and such a reason is why he pays such and such a person. He prefers to praise the team/squad as a whole.

    As for the general reservations about Boothroyd's style, I still reckon that on balance I would be happy if I was a Cov fan at the moment.



  • Comment number 17.

    Nice to see Coventry mentioned at last in the same breath as top six. Consider we've been there or there abouts since pretty much the start of the season and constantly get bumped probably because we've signed Marlon King.

    Boothroyd's given us something that we've not had since the days of Eric Black, belief that we can actually get something out of games. And while we might normally be considered a family club, we've been too polite for too long. Yesterday was a prime example with the sending off, the ref played on and it was only when the Norwich players surrounded the ref and the rolling around on the floor did he produce a card (which he took no account of the conditions or had spoken to him before). Its nice that we've finally got a little bit of bite, even if it is from an ex con.

    Boothroyd's style might not be to everyones taste, but we're finally starting to go somewhere with him at the helm and while the route A can be a bit annoying at times, we're grinding out wins and normally losing to the late goal or a stupid mistake by our own team.

    Personally, i guess its the Coventry mentality but i can't really see us being up there for much longer. Almost like we miss that good relegation fight that we've been doing for the last fourty years.
    But i also can't really see Norwich being up there either. Neither team were good yesterday, might have been partly due to the conditions but while Norwich had alot of the possesion, they didn't really do much with it.

    A top 10 would be nice enough for a team that's finished bottom for most of years we've been in the championship.

  • Comment number 18.

    Great article, I couldn't get to the game on Saturday due to having to work. I've been following Norwich home and away and have only missed one game since Mid October until Saturday and have seen a complete turn around in the progression of Norwich from when the 1st dip started after Worthington was sacked and had no Goalscorer until Grant Holt when Earnie left for supposedly better move to Derby.

    Since Lambert has arrived he has not been afraid of getting rid of dead weight and has changed the team a lot since we got promoted back to the Championship that only half of yesterdays starting 11 were with the club last season. He is getting the side even more balanced and think we have the best squad since we were last playing in the premiership. He's got quietly about his job and I feel that hate of losing and determination to win has driven the players on and in Grant Holt who I agree we missed against Portsmouth who are a tall and physical side, in Holt we have a target man which Norwich have always suited to having "A traditional number 9 up front" and it's taken us really since Iwan Roberts/Dean Ashton to find that player who can hold up the play, distribute the ball and finally score goals on a regular basis.

    As long as we keep Lambert I think we can stay in the top six and we're just had the toughest run of fixtures in the past 2 months and we're still up there with good wins against Ipswich, Derby and Coventry all so important between a play off side and a side challenging for promotion.

    As long as Liverpool or Man United don't come knocking then I think we can hang on to Lambert.

    Finally he likes managing a club that can get over 25,000 to every home game and have a following away on average over 2,000 and praises the support of the fans.

    Norwich fans know we have one of the best managers in the country we just want to keep it quiet a bit longer...

    Bring on Palace on Boxing day!

    On the ball City!

  • Comment number 19.

    #17, Bothroyd said the sending off was correct. Having also seen it on tv, it was reckless, regardless of the conditions, and could have broken the lads leg.

    #13, fair point. I was merely saying that i dont think Cov will go up. Yes Bothroyd is an improvement on what you had before, and its good that the fans have taken to him. Like i said, mid table finish, which i guess the fans will be happy with, with an outside chance of sneaking 6th, but personally i doubt that.

  • Comment number 20.

    Although I am a staunch dyed in the wool Boro fan, and living on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, I have had the pleasure of seeing Norwich a few times this season, and have been very impressed the style of play and commitment has been nothing short of excellent.

    PL has done an excellent job, I know Neil Doncaster has a 7 year plan, but I think Mr Lambert might gatecrash the party early.

    OTBC.

  • Comment number 21.

    From a Coventry fan's perspective, this is an excellent write up. We do not need the sympathy of Norwich fans for the style of football we watch. We have the players who can mix up our style and we have languished in this division for a decade now. You have to remember that we were treated to well over thirty years of consecutive top flight football and have not looked particularly close to promotion since. Clive Platt was a signal of intent - nicknamed 'the Tree' and at 6ft4 from the lower divisions, it was not a glamorous signing. However, he cost £50k with appearances and his knock downs are often gleefully snapped up by the likes of McSheffrey and King. Norwich fans should be well aware of Clingan's qualities as a quarterback style midfielder. King has pace and undoubted quality. His signing did not go down well with all fans - male and female - but I have worked with people who have suffered domestic violence and offenders before and was willing to give him a chance at our club. Fans of rival clubs telling me I have something to be ashamed of for doing so do are misplaced in their 'holier than thou' attitudes. If we look at Coventry's squad, there is some often overlooked quality. Westwood is class and destined for better things. Keogh is an attacking fullback, full of running and willing, the 'white Cafu', if you will. In terms of centre halves, I would not swap Ben Turner, Richard Wood or James McPake for many others in the division. Clingan, McSheffrey, Eastwood and King are more than capable. We see more of our club than anyone else, I am happy to support a club that are talked down by rival fans but that other clubs hate to play against.

  • Comment number 22.

    A Cagey Canary writes...

    Do stop going on about Paul Lambert.
    He's not that great, no, really, he isn't.
    Quite ordinary, oh yes.
    And he's locked into a VERY expensive contract.
    And he hates chicken curry...

  • Comment number 23.

    I don't mind Norwich, but I want to see QPR, Leeds and Forest back in the Prem, I miss those Leeds Man Utd matches!

    http://www.inofftheghost.wordpress.com

  • Comment number 24.

    Whooooaaa, need to be QUICK to point out that Neil Doncaster is NOT involved with Norwich City anymore. When we got relegated he went to the dizzy hights of the SPL and we appointed former Fulham man David McNally.
    He in turn hired Paul Lambert and since then we have climbed the divisions and the tables.

    If it wasn't for BOTH men, DM and PL I highly doubt we would be where we are now. Say what you want about Delia Smith, but after making a few questionable decisions appointing Peter Grant and Glen Roeder she has learnt from her mistakes and the rewards are starting to pay off.

  • Comment number 25.

    majesticsproggo - I'm not sure you can put the toothpaste back in the tube. The word is out. Having said that, I get the feeling that he really believes he can build something special at Norwich.

    I wonder if Aidy Boothroyd feels the same about Coventry? I've been to plenty of new stadiums but I thought the Ricoh Arena was in many ways a cut above most of them. It is a ground that deserves better than lower end Championship football.

  • Comment number 26.

    I have the feeling Lambert really wants to stay at City and finish what he's started, he knows the potential of our club and will get us back into the Premier League playing the kind football we've been known to play for years.

    We may not have won many major trophies but our club has a fine history and tradition and PL understands it, he understands what loyal support we have and what a great place the club and the surrounding area is. We're a unique club and PL gets it.

  • Comment number 27.

    A few season ago it looked like Aidy was to become the Norwich manager and I glad he didn't because I wouldn't want to watch long ball after long ball, we have always be known as a team who play football the right way and under Lambert it is the best football I have seen at Norwich, we can if we need mix it up a play long balls to holt but sometimes this season it seems everyone needs a touch of the ball before we shoot.

    This team is starting to remind me of the team we got promotion to the premier league with and under Lambert anything is possible.

  • Comment number 28.

    Nice article, but I share the Norwich fans nervousness about pointing the spotlight on Lambert.

    Always liked PL as a player - from his time at St Mirren, through the heady heights of European winner at Dortmund, to his contributions to my beloved Celtic.

    I'd love him to come back and manage us one day.......!

    Just one question - how can anyone down there understand him as his accent was always......."thick".

  • Comment number 29.

    We don't understand him. It is ok now after more than a year with Norwich he normally just says the same things so we can all understand.

  • Comment number 30.

    Nice to see Norwich doing well after a tricky few years, it's a nice club and it's always good to see a fellow Scot doing well down South. Lambert clearly has a lot of talent and Norwich did well to act so decisevely at the beggining of last season to bring him in, as their previous few managerial decisions had been poor.

    I expect Norwich to maintain a challenge at the top of the Championship and I wouldn't be surprised to see them go up. That would appear to be Norwich's best way of holding onto Lambert as I feel sure he will get the chance to prove himself at a Premiership club before too long.

    Anyway, good luck to all Canary fans, and I hope Coventry have a good season too although I can't seem escaping the Championship just yet.

  • Comment number 31.

    29 Ha, good point, I have difficulty understanding him sometimes and I'm from Scotland, albeit the East rather than West side. The dressing room must resemble the sketch from Harry & Paul where Paul Whitehouse gives his team talk in the various native tongues of his multi-national team, only in Lambert's case it's only the Scottish accent that he employs..."hey Grantsy ya tube, ye should've hud a hat-trick oot there ya bam!..." priceless!!

  • Comment number 32.

    It might have been worth mentioning that both managers left Colchester United to take up the positions they are now in. At least Boothroyd and Coventry acted in the correct manager unlike Lambert and Norwich who couldn't have acted in a less professional manner if they tried.

    Personally I was glad to see the back of Lambert as he played the most negative football I have ever seen at Colchester United, Boothroyd's team wasn't pretty to watch but at nearly every game I saw when Lambert was boss was dull and turgid.

    I think his success at Norwich has been down to the players he has at his disposal rather than being due to his tactical ability. He'll leave Norwich as soon as a bigger fish comes calling, namely Celtic and until then he'll keep them in the Championship which in all honesty is where they should be.

    On a slightly different point, how do Coventry fans feel about the signing of Marlon King? Personally I wouldn't watch my team if he signed for them, he's a convicted thug and it's about time football took a moral stand against people like him.

  • Comment number 33.

    Paul Lambert is a pragmatic manager who will continue the success he had as a player. Scottish football is in decline and Lambert has stated playing sides 4 times a year is not for him." You don't know what you are doing" is a chant you will never hear at Carrow Road, he will make mistakes and he is not frightened to make big decisions. Holt has not been at his best in the early part of he season but we have reached the top six without him being at his best. The last month has seen him hit top form so i am optimistic for playoffs at least.

    32 Get over it, he's gone, move on.

    H

  • Comment number 34.

    RE: #32

    he has already turned down celtic. he doesn't want to manage in the scottish leagues as he has stated on many occasions. and your comments in general smack of a typical, jealous colchester fan. lambert left to join a bigger club - it was the right move for him. get over it. he is working miracles at city and will eventually (being the operative word) leave for even bigger and better things. however, in the meantime he has realised he is in charge of a club with big potential who could compete in the premier league in future seasons under his guidance. he isn't going to jeopardise that any time soon so you will just have to get over your pitiful jealousy

  • Comment number 35.

    #16 Paul - as a Watford fan, I think you're confusing two seasons into one. Our promotion season of 2005-06 with Aidy, we were in the playoff spots for most of the season and I don't recall any downturn in form at the end of the season. Our other full season with Aidy in the Championship was 2007-08 when we blew a big lead at the top and scraped into 6th on the last day of the season with a point at Blackpool.

    I think most Watford fans would agree that we look back on the time with Aidy with fondness but also frustration. He took us up to the PL (Promised Land) and that first season will always live long in the memory. But his refusal to change his style of hoofball even when it really wasn't working anymore, plus some of his horrendous transfer purchases (we are still suffering under the legacy of Ellington's fat contract) left a bitter taste.

    I wish Coventry all the best, but I fear that ultimately he may not have learnt the lessons he should have already....time will tell. Good luck Coventry and Norwich, would far rather see you hit promotion than Leeds/Swansea/QPR etc. And I can still dream that Malky will continue his wonders and keep the 'orns on the up :)

  • Comment number 36.

    What exactly do I need to get over? I've never been so pleased to see a manager depart our club as I was when Lambert left. And not only did we get rid of a manager that produced some of the most uninspiring football I have ever witnessed, we also managed to get a handsome chunk of money for him. The sum of which was even more than we originally wanted due to the fact that Norwich acted in such an underhand manner.

    With the squad you guys had last year a monkey could have managed that team to promotion and in the Championship anyone can beat pretty much anyone so a good run can see you shoot up into the play off positions and a bad run can see you tumble down the table.

  • Comment number 37.

    RSCOSWORTH;

    well then it is win-win for both clubs then isn't it! it just shows how little you know about our situation when lambert took over that you believe anyone could have got us promoted. we were a club truly on its knees and i can't be the only fan who could see us tumbling towards league two. the £475k we paid in compensation for lambert is without doubt the greatest bit of business the club has ever done and has to be possibly the bargain of the century. if your club got more than you felt he was worth it just shows why he left as he was clearly under-valued at colchester. what you say about the championship however is true - anyone can beat anyone but that is why we are near the top because we have been consistent. lambert plays the most exciting and adventurous attacking football seen at city since the days of mike walker and that could take us back to the premier league a lot quicker than anyone could ever imagined. i'm pretty sure you won't be happy to see that happen...

  • Comment number 38.

    #35 - all Norwich fans wish Malky well! An absolute legend :)

  • Comment number 39.

    also, were you really that bored of him considering the previous week he had masterminded a 7-1 win? i forget who that was against... ;)

    malky mackay = legend by the way! one of the nicest men i've ever met and i'd love him to be a huge success at watford. it seems he is already well on the way...

  • Comment number 40.

    #37 - those comments are laughable to be honest with you and just backs up the point about Col Who fans having massive chips on their shoulders.

    Paul Lambert has got City playing the best football I've seen since we won promotion under Worthington and before that Mike Walker; when we were the most entertaining side in the Premier League.

    Not sure how you can hold a grudge against somebody who just wanted to better themselves with a great opportunity presented to themself. A chance to join a club with massive potential; a loyal fanbase and premier league infastructure, all the club has been lacking was a leader and Paul Lambert is that man.

    Where was he ever going to go with Colchester in the future?

  • Comment number 41.

    From the BBC highlights Cov had a shout for a penalty and probable sending off earlier in the match for exactly the same sort of challenge as Gunnarsson was sent off for. Boothroyd can admit he has no complaints but maybe Lambert can admit he was lucky to get away with theirs.
    I saw the Skyblues at Reading the week before and was disappointed that too many players refused to bring thr ball down even when not under pressure and just kept heading the ball on hoping it would finally get to a forward and this is not promotion chasing tactics.
    Marlon King has done his time, he deserves a chance to show he has learnt from his mistakes and concentrate on football.

  • Comment number 42.

    If you did not see the match and watch to check out some highlights - go crazy.........

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_div_1/9303166.stm

  • Comment number 43.

    i certainly think we got away with the penalty. difficult to tell on the red but it was certainly dangerous and by the letter of law it was a red for two feet off the ground, studs showing, whether we agree on the rule is another matter. marlon king should have been sent off for nearly snapping grant holt in half at one point too i should add - the ref managed to book platt for it though! at the end of the day the better team on the day won and nobody can argue with that. coventry battled well with ten men but the team with more ability came out on top, regardless of the referee who messed up for both teams at times.

  • Comment number 44.

    Re: #32

    So I guess that you do not follow the International side, as half the team have been in court for one thing or another and are morally wanting in many areas (eg Gerrard, Terry, Rooney, Cole....the list goes on!)

    Marlon has done wrong, served some time and deserves a right to work his way back into the community. As a City fan, it's nice to watch a footballer who is clearly a class above most footballers in this league, especially the canaries who were out on the pitch.

    As for the game, I cannot believe that the penalty was not paid for the tackle on Platt and then Fox (already yellow carded) upends Doyle, second yellow,surely, nothing from the ref. Cannot complain against the sending off for Cov, studs showing so had to go regardless of conditions. However, notcieable that Lansbury stayed down just long enough to ensure the red card!!!!!

    If anybody had offered me Cov being sixth at Xmas, I would have chewed their arm off, so it's great to be there and see that Aidy has created a different feeling and belief at the club. I think we're still a left back and attacking midfielder short but will be happy with top ten this year.

    PUSB

  • Comment number 45.

    hmm, so marlon king was the best player on the pitch was he? he did absolutely nothing until he scored and looked lethargic and generally fed up with the lack of decent service. grant holt or marlon king? thats a tough question! grant holt every time

  • Comment number 46.

    "Watford also tailed off in their promotion season - from leaders to a side that slightly sneaked into the play-offs."

    Sorry, Paul, but that's not right at all. As a Watford fan, I recall that we were around 4th the whole season. Certainly, we were never top - Reading ran away with it that year.

    I think you are getting confused with a post-relegation season, where we led for a lot of the year and did just sneak into the play-offs before being embarrassed by Hull.

    Good article, though.

  • Comment number 47.

    Re: #44

    Sorry but I can't recall Rooney, Gerrard or Cole serving time in prison unlike King who's been inside on more than one occasion. This isn't a guy who made one mistake and now totally regrets it, he's a criminal and a thug who just happens to be quite good at football. How many offences has he been found guilty of now? Maybe you'd think differently if it was your wife or daughter he'd punched in the face!

  • Comment number 48.

    GHBRich (post 46) - I think the explanation behind my confusion is explained pretty well by echogifton (post 35). I have basically merged two of your seasons into one, which does not work at all!

  • Comment number 49.

    finally, we agree on something cosworth!

  • Comment number 50.

    Maybe playoffs but still a long way to go, think QPR, Cardiff, Swansea and leeds in better position; and its crowded below the top one win or loose and you drop or advance 5 to 10 places

  • Comment number 51.

    Paul, I notice recently Phil McNulty has written blogs lamenting the shameful treatment of managers like Chris Houghton and Big Sam Allardyce by overly ambitious chairmen.

    However on the other side of the coin you have managers who don’t have a second thought, or loyalty, for generous and supportive chairmen. As demonstrated by Norwich’s shameful poaching of Paul Lambert from Colchester United in August 2009, just two games into the season.

    Given that by their CEO David McNally’s own admission Norwich were “close to administration”

    http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11095_6397390,00.html

    it is no surprise Lambert ‘resigned’ and turned up at Carrow Road hours later without agreeing compensation. Naturally the league did eventually censure Norwich for breaking the rules fining them £200,000 as well as awarding Colchester twice the amount of compensation Norwich were offering.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/c/colchester_united/8715286.stm

    Colchester chairman Robbie Cowling had backed Lambert extensively in the transfer market that summer, allowing him to spend a small fortune on players for a club of our size. As well as funding a pre-season training camp in Germany this was effectively reduced to a waste of time after two games.

    It is shameful that Lambert didn’t, at the very least, show the same moral conviction as Nigel Adkins did when leaving Scunthorpe to Southampton in reportedly very similar circumstances.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/s/southampton/8983286.stm

    Given that Norwich could stand to benefit greatly, directly from the rule breaking for which they were fined, by reaching the Premiership and its riches; is it appropriate for the BBC to ‘celebrate’ or bring attention to success brought about by the unfair conduct of Norwich City and Paul Lambert?

  • Comment number 52.

    Hi Colu-mike

    The way that Lambert moved from Colu to Norwich could suggest to some a flaw in his character, personal ambition over loyalty. Dion Dublin has said of Norwich that is was a 'nice' club, too nice he hinted, nice clubs don't win anything. It would be good to lose that tag. Lambert's move was not big news and it has been dealt with.

    Can you imagine a world where the BBC based their editorial judgement on long gone petty feuds that have been resolved. Move on. believe in Karma....


  • Comment number 53.

    I literally couldn't agree more with you Harisbo with regards the comments of Dion. City have always been too nice for their own good and have consistently been stripped of their best assets through a lack of ambition - now we are showing more ambition but to do so you have to step on some peoples toes... it has happened to us before and will no doubt happen again, probably when a massive club comes in for Lambert, but that happens in every line of business. leeds did exactly the same thing with Grayson from Blackpool... but one thing is for sure, we won't throw a huge hissy-fit and run a campaign of hate so vindictive and petty that it has to go through some of the most bizarre avenues such as asking for 30 points be deducted and relegation like Colchester's chairman did. Also, this 'supposed' flaw in Lambert because he walked out on Colchester means nothing whatsoever. Why does it have to be a trend? I suspect he is here for a good while yet - he has shown (unlike numerous others who went before) that he 'gets' the club. It's a club with enormous potential, huge fanbase and great infrastructure. The club has always been geared up for a stable period in the top flight but until now we haven't had the management team in either the boardroom nor pitchside to progress... now we do! Lambert has worked miracles on a shoe-string (not to say he hasn't been backed with everything the board can back him with) and I fully believe that he will take us to stability in the Premier League. Might not be this season but it will happen soon. When eventually he does move on to bigger and better things (which he will) he will go with my utmost respect and thanks for an utterly remarkable job he has done to bring an ailing club back to life with brilliant football once again.

  • Comment number 54.

    Oh and colu_mike, you don't have to ever like Lambert again but you will have to move on at some point... it has been nearly 18 months for crying out loud!!

  • Comment number 55.

    # 51
    I could have sworn the point of Paul's blog was whether Coventry and Norwich were genuine contenders for promotion.
    If you want to haul skeletons out of closets, colu_mike, eighteen months down the line, why not write your own blog on it rather than imposing historical details on fans of numerous different clubs who quite frankly couldn't care a monkeys whether your toys stay in your pram or not.

    Time is a healer ( not to mention a chunky compensation payment ) they say - but clearly not in parts of Essex.

  • Comment number 56.

    #52-55

    The fundamental principle of fair play in sport can never be trivialized as a ‘petty feud’.

    The fact remains Norwich City wouldn’t be in their current lofty position today if they hadn’t broken the football league rules in August 2009.

    If footballers are expected to be good role models to youngsters, then so should football clubs. It’s hardly a positive message to send out that if you can’t afford something you should just take it by deception.

    The BBC should not show any bias towards the corporate façade Norwich City wish to present. All blogs and articles pertaining to any successes enjoyed by Norwich and Paul Lambert should be tempered with reference to the football league disciplinary committees findings.

  • Comment number 57.

    Re. colu_mike

    Mate, I'm not wanting to patronise here but you really do need to get over this I'm afraid to say. I completely understand your frustration over the situation but football is a dog eat dog world whether we all like it or not.

    Yes, Norwich broke some rules when we appointed Lambert as manager - we have been fined for it, paid our dues (so to speak) and so we all have no choice but to now move on. We are not the first club to do this sort of thing and most certainly won't be the last.

    As a Norwich fan myself, in Jan 1993 Mike Walker jumped ship mid-season and went to Everton just a month after Norwich got knocked out of Europe and were challenging for the 2nd succesive season at the top of the Prem - a point at which we were at the peak of our success and when we all thought it was going to be like that for a couple of further seasons at least. Everton had not been given permission to speak to Walker, so he resigned. Surprise surprise, he joined Everton just 24hrs later. We were all peeved, but do you know what, we had no choice but to get over it, though Walker's departure ultimately was the trigger that broke our succesful side up. 18 months later we got relegated.

    In 1995 we appointed Martin O'Neill and after a disastrous 18mths, we were finally lloking in good shape again - we all thought we would bounce straight back to the Prem. We were near the top of the table and yes, he fell out with our chairman, but in December 1995 on the day we were live on TV away to Leicester City, it was announced O'Neill had resigned. Just a few days later, low and behold he joined.... yes, Leicester! Again, I think you can work how we felt (particularly as the appointment that followed O'Neill was Gary Megson, but that's another story!).

    What am I trying to say here? Well, it's happened to us also so we know exactly how you feel. But do you know what, probably every club in the 92 will have similar stories at various points, both as the victim and the perpetrators. Believe it or not, we aren't the only ones to have appointed a manager against the wishes of his previous club. Likewise, you aren't the only victims of this kind of thing either!

    I respect your clear and committed support for CUFC, but to continually channel some of your undoubted support to past issues not affecting the current team, I cannot see how this can help you climb the table?

    Like when Norwich visited in January, the town of Colchester surely need to get 100% behind their team now to try and get them up the table, especially at such a crucial period of the season looming. Unfortunately though, the support from that day (att. 10k) has proved to be a complete one off and, sadly, it doesn't seem that this happening.

    For the sake of CUFC, move on, channel your full support to your current team to help get back to the Championship. Whatever happened in the past has, certainly now, long since gone.

  • Comment number 58.

    The reality is that Lambert has come to the notice of the media more through the results of the team that he manages rather than being enticed from ColU. People will soon start to look at the man and his German links as regards his coaching methods and style of play. Bratwurst anyone!

    H

 

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