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Can Lambert teach the Canaries to sing?

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Paul Fletcher | 12:00 UK time, Wednesday, 19 August 2009

At Griffin Park

New Norwich manager Paul Lambert cut a relaxed figure as he stood in the warm evening sun before the Canaries match at Brentford on Tuesday.

In between talking to his new employers and obligingly signing a few autographs, the 40-year-old Scot watched his squad go through their warm-up routine, occasionally casting a glance down at the team sheet in his hand.

But inside he must have surely been as amazed as the rest of us by the turn of events since the start of the new season.

The Scot had resigned as Colchester manager late on Monday before being officially unveiled as the successor to Bryan Gunn at Carrow Road on Tuesday morning.

Lambert then made the dash to Griffin Park to watch his new team in action, but preparation for the League One fixture had been left to caretaker boss Ian Butterworth.

The players that Lambert saw cannot have been unfamiliar to him. After all, just 10 days previously he was in the away dug-out as his Colchester side annihilated the Canaries 7-1 in what was comfortably the most spectacular result of the opening weekend of the season.

I could not help but feel sorry for Gunn as I watched the rather lengthy highlights on the BBC, goal after goal evaporating the optimism built during a largely successful pre-season.

He cut a slightly helpless figure, especially when two supporters invaded the pitch and headed towards him; one of who engaged in the histrionic gesture of throwing away his season ticket, something that the shrewd among us leave until the final and not the opening game of a season.

Norwich then ensured their club would remain in the headlines by sacking Gunn last Friday, just days after his team had beaten Yeovil 4-0 in the Carling Cup. Less than a week into the new campaign and we had the first managerial casualty of the season. Brutal.

I spoke to plenty of people over the summer who suggested that Gunn had been fortunate to land the job permanently after a largely disappointing attempt to keep Norwich in the Championship.

Gunn, of course, is a Canaries legend and the suspicion was that there was a hint of sentiment - always a dangerous ingredient when making a hard-headed decision - in his appointment.

Boardroom changes have been made at Norwich since Gunn was given the job permanently and new chief executive David McNally apparently had no qualms about taking swift and decisive action so early in the season.

The thing is, though, McNally arrived on 12 June - why not before the season started? Instead, Gunn rebuilt his squad over the summer and six of the new arrivals started at Brentford, with a further four on the bench.

Striker Grant Holt arrived from Shrewsbury and his link-up play with Cody McDonald at times on Tuesday must have pleased the watching Lambert. It is the classic big 'un, little 'un combination, with McDonald, who arrived from Dartford in January, looking like a real find. Both tested Lewis Price in the Brentford goal.

Right winger Simon Whaley, brought in from Preston, is more than capable at League One level and with Wes Hoolahan on the opposite flank, they look equipped to provide good service for the strikers. Several times against the Bees they found space in dangerous areas and drilled low crosses into the box. Whaley, though, is a confidence player and sometimes goes missing during a game, while Hoolahan occasionally lacks an end product.

It was a tight first half at Brentford, with both teams creating good chances, but the home team were clearly superior after the break and might have won by a greater margin than 2-1.

Norwich wilted after they fell behind to Ryan Dickson's header in a way that suggested confidence is understandably brittle. David Hunt's free-kick sealed the points before Owain Tudur Jones, another summer arrival who looked solid in the centre of Norwich's midfield, scored a consolation free-kick in injury-time.

Brentford are a little club on the up, while Norwich are a biggish club on the slide - and it showed on the night.

The calibre of the Bees' football suggested they will not struggle at this level after winning the League Two title last season. Eyebrows were raised when young manager Andy Scott was given a five-year contract in April 2008 but the London club backed their man and are now reaping the rewards.

Paul Lambert

Norwich must hope that Lambert, who had been at Colchester since last October, can make a similar impression at Carrow Road - and after the club opted to take such drastic action in sacking Gunn they must now give the new boss the backing and time to succeed.

It won't be easy because expectations are high at Norwich for an immediate return to the Championship. Brentford must have the smallest two-tier stand in football but nonetheless it was filled to near capacity by the 1,850 away fans who had made the trip from Norwich.

They saw their team opened up far too easily, while possession was often cheaply surrendered. I spoke to Whaley and Holt afterwards and they both insisted that morale was good in the dressing room and that as professional players they are capable of handling the early-season turbulence.

But there was an uncertainty to Norwich's play that suggested the bruises sustained over the last 10 days remain painful. Lambert must quickly iron out Norwich's frailties in defence and restore self-belief.

Speaking after the game Butterworth argued that the squad Lambert inherits is good enough for promotion. He went on to say that the players and coaching staff have a day off on Wednesday. Not until he returns to work on Thursday does he expect to find out if he still has a job. It seems unlikely as Lambert is taking his backroom staff with him from Colchester.

I have heard that Lambert, a Champions League winner as a player with Borussia Dortmund, was not formally interviewed for the position.

McNally, the man responsible for appointing him, was sales and marketing director at Celtic when Lambert was skipper of the Scottish club. But McNally insisted this is no old pals act and explained on Tuesday: "It's all about ability, experience, track record, drive, hunger, commitment and a winning mentality. Paul has all of those."

But this is very much McNally's appointment - and Lambert's success or otherwise will be a reflection on him as well. In this regard I can see why he has wanted to employ someone he knows all about.

Lambert said that he came to truly understand the size of the club and its fanbase after he took his Colchester team to Carrow Road. It clearly made an impression on him because he has left a team top of League One to take on the task of trying to revive Norwich.

As Lambert watched his new side slip to defeat at Griffin Park, Colchester won again, beating Gillingham 2-1 to maintain their 100% start to the League One season.

But then, Lambert's appointment is all about ambition and Norwich fans can rest assured they have a man who will work tirelessly to realise it.

I interviewed Lambert shortly after he became Wycombe boss in 2006. As we discussed the all-consuming nature of management he told me: "You have issues going through your brain about the club every day - and often into the night."

How successfully he deals with the issues he faces at Norwich will be of crucial importance as he tries to get the Canaries singing again.


  • Comment number 1.

    I suggest anyone who has not seen Colchester chairman's statement on their website has a read - the item is titled "U's Flash: Lambert Quits Manager's Job".

    While many Colchester supporters are not particularly concerned to see the back of Lambert, results aside he has not endeared himself to many at or around the club, the manner of his going and the way Norwich have gone about it are astounding. Perhaps Regulation 20 could usefully have a points deduction option amongst its sanctions.

    And if Norwich's finances are as precarious as their forums suggest how are they going to fund the major overhaul of their squad that Lambert will undoubtedly want to make.

  • Comment number 2.

    This move from Colchester to Norwich is a prime example of the lack or loyalty and respect in the modern game. Ok by comparison Colchester is a "small" club, when held up against what is essentially a Premier league set-up in League 1. However Colchester are a team on the rise, one which Lambert has built alongside it's chairman Robbie Cowling over the last two years, to the point now where there is genuine hope for promotion this season, highlighted by the great start to the season. Lambert has walked away from this, hopping onto the next stepping stone on his predited return to Celtic in years to come. My hope remains that while i wish all the best to Paul and Norwich, Colchester can maintain their good start and act swiftly bring in someone wih the same apparent drive and determination as Paul, however with a little more loyalty, if that possible in todays game.

  • Comment number 3.

    Great blog Fletch. It's particularly interesting to know that Lambert didn't get a formal interview.

    Whatever the players might say about their ability to handle the early-season turbulence, for a lot of the match last night Norwich looked like a team of strangers, often lacking the confidence and inspiration to do anything with the ball. Not all of that is explained by the number of new signings on the pitch.

    The Gunn affair has been badly handled; he might not have done enough last year to show he was up to the task, but the timing of his sacking was awful. And why allow him to bring in players another manager might not want?

    Looking forward to seeing what Lambert can do though. He needs to put Grant Holt on a better fitness regime. Good player, but he seemed to be struggling fitness wise and carrying a little excess weight.

  • Comment number 4.

    I really like Lambert, but has he maybe taken on more than he can chew with taking such a difficult challenge and leaving the comfy surrounding of Colchester. We've seen it time and time again; Ince, Holloway, Scolari just to name a few. I don't like Norwich (blame them for stealing Louis-Jean and Brennan off us, and also for injuring David Johnson who was only a quarter of the player he had been when he returned) and don't think they'll be good enough to come straight back up which the fans and staff will be demanding. Interesting but difficult.

  • Comment number 5.

    Oh Norwich! What has happened to you? How the might have fallen

  • Comment number 6.

    It's nice to see a blog about Norwich on the BBC sport website, although the circumstances are depressing. It seems that the national press (BBC included) had forgotten we existed from May 2005, our relegation from the Premier league, until May this year - the lowest point in our club's history for 50 years.
    Back on topic, whilst I think it's fair to say most of our support weren't happy with Gunn's permanent appointment in June, there was a lot of optimism generated by the signings made during pre-season (Whalley, Holt, Hughes etc) Unfortunately this optimism was completely scuppered by our 7-1 shambles on the opening day; highlighting a general feeling that Gunn, despite the encouraging transfer activity, lacked any tactical awareness/managerial ability. Lambert should have both of those in abundance at League 1 level, even if his loyalty is slightly questionable following the circumstances in which he departed both Wycombe and Colchester.

    Chris10563 - Holt was injured for the majority of the preseason and isn't entirely match fit. That he played at all shows just how short of strikers/options we are at the moment.

  • Comment number 7.

    Lambert strikes me as somebody who enjoys a challenge and I'm sure that he will get one at Norwich with the high expectations and pressure from the fans. It may not happen this year, but given time he can turn things around at Carrow Road.

    I remember when Grant Holt was at Halifax as a teenager, but they got rid of him for almost nothing (it might actually have been nothing) when they had signed him from Workington for £10,000! I wonder why they went bust....

  • Comment number 8.

    #2 wrote - "Ok by comparison Colchester is a "small" club, when held up against what is essentially a Premier league set-up in League 1"

    And this my friend is our bigget problem, we can't get our head around the fact that we have a Premiership set up and a League 1 (debatebly) team. When you guys came to CR, you got 23000 Norwich Fans in a stadium which has been developed over many years, the shirt on the pitch, did we have the Aviva Diva's I don't know I arrived just before kick off. The problem is that everything says Premieship then we wheel on a bunch of kids and a couple of old cart horses and expect them to perform miracles. You know how our crowd turned on Aug 8th, it was venimous, I stayed longer than most (80 minutes) but only because I had to stay to pick up new shirts we had ordered before the game. I don't think Lambert is the answer, but then I don't think Alex Ferguson would be the answer either. Maybe he has a better chance than most because of his links to McNally but then Gunn was Delia's man and she owns the club, I don't think he will be around long, recent history shows that promises will have been made by our board about funding etc which just won't happen, he will get frustrated and we will be back on the downward spiral. We are a big club on the slide and I fear the momentum is getting too great to ever stop the direction of travel, only a large injection of cash can save us now, and there isn't much of that about these days unless you're printing it! (little bit of politics there)

  • Comment number 9.

    Oh and make no mistake on this, Lambert and McNally have discussed this before the start of the season, they have history and Gunny was not in favour with him buit McNally couldn't just sack him. Lambert came down on the opening game with a distinct advantage because both he and Gunny knew he was McNally's choice for the managers office so Gunny tried to defend his position while Lambert went all out attack. That day they played for the job and Lambert won.

  • Comment number 10.

    Absolutely rediculous, Paul Lambert has summed up modern football and I for one have absolutely no respect for a man like that.

    Onwards and Upwards U's - Joe Dunne's Blue and White Army!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Norwich should be heavily fined and penalised as there is no doubt that conversations have taken place between McNally & Lambert prior to the start of the season without Colchester's knowledge.

    I don't think Norwich will go back up - reckon it will be the U's, Leeds and either MK Dons or Southend

  • Comment number 12.

    #11 - There is a world of difference between two old friends discussing possible situations and actually engaging in poaching activities, no doubt they had talked about possible situations but the actual move wouldn;t have happened without COlcheter's agreing to the discussion in the first place. Like a lion, McNally is not an idiot!

  • Comment number 13.

    I really hope Norwich suffer - I used to like the club as an impartial observer of football, but hings are starting to rot at that place.

  • Comment number 14.

    Norwich only had the permission to speak to Lambert on the proviso they couldn't offer him the managerial role until compensation had been agreed. This has still not happened, so Norwich have effectively made an illegal approach for our contracted manager.

    We have been done like this before. George Burley resigned on Christmas Eve 1994 to leave for Ipswich Town. Absolutely no-one, even the board and directors, knew of this until they turned up for the Boxing Day fixture. Whats more, it was years later in the summer of 1998 that Colchester received any compensation whatsoever, and even that was derisory. I never thought Norwich would stoop so low as to copy the actions of their near neighbours, but clearly they have done.

    It seems Norwich have got their man on the basis of one result. No wonder they are where they are.

    Revenge however will be sweet. Phil Parkinson left us for Hull persuaded by an old mate Adam Pearson. Exactly 151 days after he was officially appointed Hull boss he took his new side back to his old one. Hull were swiftly despatched 5-1 and even that scoreline flattered them. Parky was sacked just days later with Hull in the bottom three, whereas his old club were on the fringes of the top six in the Championship. Funnily enough, there are 151 days between yesterday, when Lambert was unveiled, and January 16th, when Norwich visit Colchester in a League One fixture.

    Revenge is a best dish served cold, after all. 151 days cold perhaps?

  • Comment number 15.

    It's absolutely disgusting the way that Lambert has treated Colchester - its fans, players and the Chairman. He has spent a lot of money buying the players the manger wanted and now he clears off, leaving them to get on with it. Those players he persuaded to come must feel let down, and the fans are absolutely shocked and outraged by the manner, timing and sheer heartlessness of his departure. Let's hope everyone pulls together and really gets behing the team. Last night's win was a triumph for the players and it was heartwarming to see the players come over to us at the South stand and celebrate the win. You could see that it meant a lot to them as well as us. Well done everyone.
    As for Lambert - only time will tell if he is shown the same disloyalty by Norwich as he is shown us. I won't stoop to wishing him ill, football itself will take care of that

  • Comment number 16.

    I think (and hope) that Lambert has made a huge error. At Colchester he would be backed and had the potential to get us back to the Championship. Had he done this he could have been head hunted by a host of larger clubs, much bigger than Norwich, and possibly a premiership club would have noticed. This is a realistic move for Lambert who as a player was a European Champion with Bayern Munich.
    Will Lambert be given time to turn Norwich around? Given their track record I would say that is unlikely and failure could result in Lambert being restricted to league One roles for the rest of his career.
    Given the lack of loyalty he has shown I would very much like to see this!

  • Comment number 17.

    What the average supporter has to get his head round is, today football is no different with regard to employment than any other employer/employee situation, whether it be player loyalty to manager, manager loyalty to chairman or chairman's loyalty to both.
    The only loyalty comes from the supporter.
    If another employer/headhunter comes knocking with a better deal than the present one, both financially and better prospects of promotion, then in most cases he or she will be on their way, football is no different.
    The main thing is don't get wound up too much by it, still support your team and keep coming up with opinions on the game, because when it all boils down, that is the only thing that dosen't change in football, opinions.

  • Comment number 18.

    Good blog, Paul. It was indeed a brutal end to Gunn's tenure, but the gossip around here is - and has been all along - that he didn't want the job in the first place. Rather, he is a loyal, long-time canary who came to the colours when called.

    He also did a pretty decent job. He couldn't save Norwich from relegation, but, by the time of his appointment, that was an impossible ask anyway - the club had been too badly managed, for too long, on and off the field.

    I feel that he was sacked too soon. The Colchester game was painful, but Gunn's changes had only just begun. With one possible exception, the most embarrassing performances on that abject day were put in by players inherited by Gunn, not signed by him. The last time that Norwich shipped seven goals was an opening fixture at Blackburn - and we went on to secure the highest-place finish in the history of the club. So I would have given him at least a couple of months. I don't know whether Lambert will be better. I suspect that board-level egos triggered this move, amounting to "we didn't appoint him, we want our own man, and we want to look decisive". "Hasty", rather than decisive, is how this looks to me. If they had given Gunn a bit longer, more thought could have been put into the selection of a possible successor if, after a few months, it was clear that Gunn was indeed failing.

    We need to stand back and look at the real problem here - there's been poor management on the field, but bad management off it is the real problem. This is by no means unique to Norwich, but our case is an extreme one. We have very high attendances - I think I'm right in saying that Blackburn won the EPL championship with a lower average home gate than Norwich enjoy - very loyal travelling fans, an excellent stadium and strong support from the broader Norfolk community. So why are we in League One?

    Answer - bad management off the field. There have been changes - there had to be, after last season's abject performances - and we have to hope that these will improve matters. But this hasty decision is not an encouraging sign. What is needed is long-term planning. It is - as, I think, will be found out by Southampton as well - by no means easy for a big club to regain its appropriate league status, neither is it quick.

    As Leeds fans can attest.

  • Comment number 19.

    Lambert is single-minded and ruthless.

    So are Ferguson, Wenger, Mourinho, Benitez, Redknapp, Moyes, Guardiola..........
    It's a very good trait for a football manager.

    He's also winner of league titles and the biggest prize of all for club football; having shackled the man widely regarded as the best player in the game to get it!

    Whether you like him or Norwich, or not - he will be successful enough to get himself to the next level, obviously there is a question mark over whether he'll be taking his current club up that step with him; but few people horsed Roberto Martinez for bailing out on Cardiff after a short(ish) tenure - money talks, whether it's in the form of working budget or cash in the pocket!

  • Comment number 20.

    One other thing. I don't know the ins and outs of the signing, but the way Colchester have been treated doesn't feel good, somehow. Colchester fans have made some good points here. I don't know if they can get promotion, but I hope they can.

  • Comment number 21.

    It just highlights the joke of the "managerial merry-go-round." A plague on all your houses.

  • Comment number 22.

    Its all happened so quickly. Why Gunn was appointed in the first place I will never know. You mentioned sentiment in your blog Paul and I think you are spot on. Feel sorry for Colchester, and I think the way Norwich have gone about the approach is wrong. How will they afford the compo if they are supposedly in financial dire? Will look forward to the game at Cuckoo Farm. Another 7-1? Would do Colchester fans nicely. I don't expect to hear the end of this appointment, Colchester are entitled to fight for whatever they can get. Could have been a worse appointment I suppose, could have gone for John Barnes!

  • Comment number 23.

    I was at Griffin Park last night and have to agree with you about the sad state of affairs of a once succesful and likable club. In the same way as true football fans can sympathise with Leeds, Forest and Southampton fans, Norwich supporters must be gutted at the pace of their demise. However, the trio mentioned can argue they have been victims of mis-management yet, it would be difficult to blame Delia and co for such a rapid fall on the pitch at Carrow Road.
    The two teams last night were a complete paradox of each other.
    One side were playing League Two football just 12 weeks ago, own a very small, old but quaint stadium, have a gallery of relatively unknown and unskilled players and who's main priority is purely survival this season. You would have expected them to rollover to a former Premier League team with UEFA Cup pedigree (remember Jeremy Goss v Bayern Munich?), a 30,000 stadium in a 'fine city' and a loyal following. However, it was the players and fans in the red and white stripes of Brentford who showed the passion and match winning ability needed to get the 3 points and ultimately be looking up the table rather than over their shoulder to the edge of footballing capitulation. Surely if Lambert doesnt turn this around, 4th tier football will be upon them.

    He will need all the tricks in his managerial box to bring the best out of Holt, Hoolihan and Co. The frustration showing on their faces, in the multitude of misplaced passes, niggly fouls, and complete lack of match fitness. It must have been a long drive home for the band of canary followers and their cousins. Good Luck Paul, but i get the feeling promotion hunting Colchester would have been the better option.

  • Comment number 24.

    Have the canaries gone to seed?

  • Comment number 25.

    I am a Celtic supporter and normally would wish Lambert well but he has displayed miserable ethics in this case. He is proving to be a job jumper. Livingston>Wycombe>Colchester and he has resigned from all of them.

    He should have stayed through this season and show the people who handed him a position last October a little more loyalty. Celtic star or not, I will be watching the 1st division results this year and hoping that Norwich gets humped on a weekly basis. Its what the manager and organization deserve for behaving thus.

    In the US, when a head coach makes a move, he does it after the season and not during it (unless fired). When John Gruden left the Oakland Raiders to jump to the Tampa Bay Bucs in the middle of his contract, the Glazers (yes, those Glazers) had to pay Oakland heavy compensation worth millions of dollars.

  • Comment number 26.

    What a bunch of pathetic whingers you Col U fans are. First you moan that Lambert wasnt a very good manager anyway, then you whine about compensation. Thats like Norwich fans wanting punishment if someone had poached Bryan Gunn or Glenn Roeder. As for docking points, Norwich are doing a good enough job of not getting any without them being taken away!
    The Colchester chairman isnt being entirely truthful in his comments either. Its about time Norwich got a ruthless streak, they've suffered enough from other clubs, maybe now Delia's nice little club won't be pushed around!

  • Comment number 27.

    I can see why Brian Gunn took the Norwich Job same reason Shearer took the Newcastle job. Two fairly inexperienced managers who dont wish to see their clubs slide down a tier. Its a win-win for everyone, the board actually find a manager who is willing to take the job (often when a big club gets relegated its due to massive problems on the pitch loads of under performing idiots, no confidence etc), the managers win because they get a chance to manage a high reputation club and get started in the career at a decent level. The fans are happy because they get a club legend managing the club.

  • Comment number 28.

    The only good thing about the Norwich situation is that Shrewsbury (who I support!) bought Holt for £170,000 and sold him for a reported £400,000. Holt had been injured and was unfit - he always looked a bit rotund anyway! Good business for Shrewsbury! It looks as though too many cooks spoil the broth at Norwich, who really is in charge??

  • Comment number 29.

    I think Lambert will do a good job and Norwich will finish in the playoffs. Leeds United were in a similar "rose tinted glasses" senario when McAllister was there and like wise Norwich with Bryan Gunn. Club legends more than often fail. Lambert will strengthen them at the back and I fancy them to go on a good run, the nucleus of a good team is there.

  • Comment number 30.

    Having read the comments on this blog, many offering sympathy and good wishes for the season ahead to the Cochester fans hard done by the bullying way in which Norwich have lured their manager to Carrow Road, I felt compelled to contribute!
    I sat adjacent to the Colchester supporters at Carrow Road for the 7-1 humiliation and I can assure you that from when the first goal went in, we endured their taunts, jibes and celebrating for the rest of the game, quite rightly as had it been reversed they would no doubt have had to endure the same.
    But that is just it!
    All this nonsence of Norwich out muscling Colchester in luring Lambert is how it works, it's a dog eat dog world.
    No doubt if Lambert proves his potential, Norwich will struggle to keep hold of him and he will again move on to a bigger club, that's how it is, that's how it works.
    At every level, every club does the same thing - even Colchester are a big club to some other club - after all, where will they end up getting their next manager from????
    "Let him without sin cast the first stone"
    Onwards and upwards - OTBC

  • Comment number 31.

    I have some sympathy with Col U but not alot. Unfortunately it's the name of the game. Long time Canary fans will remember when it happened to us e.g. John Bond to Man City in 1980, Mike Walker to Everton 1994 and Martin O'Neill to Leicester in 1995, all excellent managers who we lost to 'bigger' clubs. We'll see whether Lambert gets anywhere near matching those guys. On The Ball City.

  • Comment number 32.

    Budgies, you are a disgrace to football, just you wait to the return fixture, Lambchops will realise what a poor decision he has made and I hope we smash the granny out of you.

  • Comment number 33.

    Poor Norwich he is the worst manager Livingston have ever seen!! All I can say is thank god he is so far away from Livingston, good luck Norwich you will need it!!

  • Comment number 34.

    Spot on Carraboy59 - Norwich fans are no stranger to seeing their club being walked all over by other clubs, and the Martin O'Neill incident particularly rankles. Colchester fans whinging now should try losing their talented manager to Leicester the day they play Leicester in a crucial match, with both sides battling for promotion to the Prem - now that really is a kick in the unmentionables!

    So it's about time we developed a ruthless streak. If you ask me it's the lack of a ruthless streak that's got us where we are now. Delia's played the perfect hostess for too long, McNally's no-nonsense style has gotten more done at the club in a couple of months than she and her husband have done in years.

    So I'm pleased that my club is finally throwing its weight around a bit to appoint young, ambitious up-and-coming managers such as Lambert, rather than pathetic nothing managers such as Grant and Gunn, largely because they have previous associations with the club.

    I don't mean to sound too harsh about Gunny but I have to - only someone with no knowledge of events at Norwich City since he took over would say he deserved more time. Fact is he was awful in terms of tactics and motivation (he didn't move from the stands or show any urgency until we were 4-0 down against Colchester, for instance, and failed to make any subs until way after half time - rubbish!), and after failing to keep us up - relegation was by no means inevitable, we were outside the relegation zone when he took over - he never should have got the job. He had no coaching qualifications, little experience and a poor track record from what little experience he had. At best he is a scout, good at identifying talent but not at running a football club (sorry Gunny, I wish you all the best but I cannot lie about my gut feeling on this). Still, nowhere near as bad as Megson was for us, that's for sure!

    All I can say is I'm as mystified as Paul Fletcher over the timing of it - why indeed did they not get rid in June or July?

    As for the question of a new playing squad - I don't see much turnover in players happening, actually. Lambert was reported to be chasing some of our signings (Holt, Nelson) when he was at Colchester - conspiracy theorists will wonder if Lambert was already assembling his new Norwich squad before he arrived! And as mentioned above, I do think Gunn has made some great signings, I really do - just he couldn't organise and motivate them.

    And hopefully Lambert, with his reasonable track record, will provide those qualities.

    And hopefully Lambert will bring those

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm just relieved we didn't get that foul mouthed thug, Roy Keane, as a manager.

  • Comment number 36.

    Thanks for all the comments - and it definitely seems that sympathy is a touch thin on the ground for Norwich, while Lambert has been cast as the bad guy in all of this.

    Nobody in Norwich will be bothered about all this if their team do go up but they have hardly brought in a manager in with a track record of winning promotion.

    As for Colchester, I do feel sorry for them but a manager walking out to move to a bigger club does happen often. It is sad but the reality of modern football.

  • Comment number 37.

    There is a whole world of difference between having a "ruthless streak" and breaking rules.

    We went from non-league football in the early 1990s to being a game and a half away from being in the top six of the Championship in 2007. During this 17 year period of continued growth and success, we did not poach other clubs' managers. We either promoted from within, brought someone in who was not contracted to a club, or if they were, suitable compensation was agreed before any appointment was made.

    The notion that Norwich have to be really nasty towards other clubs in order to achieve success is ludricous.

    The idea that Norwich have not had a ruthless streak before is ludricous too. They sacked the manager that got them promoted to the Premier League a few years ago as champions, Nigel Worthington, after some poor results in September which had followed a decent start to the season.

  • Comment number 38.

    If your going to mention Nigel Worthington at least get your information right. He was sacked after a poor first season back in the championship and left us bottom after losing 4-1 at home to Burnley. Yes, he got us promoted, but his lack of experience and poor tactial decisions soon saw us coming back down. Also, it was hardly ruthless the guy was in charge for 6 years and was only there for as long as he was because Delia and the board liked him and didnt want to get rid of a nice bloke. It was pressure from the fans and poor results that got him the sack. Plus you cant expect to try and get promoted back to the premier league only signing one new player (Lee Croft) when you've lost a lot of players (Svensson, Johnson, Helveg etc.).

    I can't stop laughing when I think about how upset the Colchester fans are. You beat us 7-1, this is a huge, humiliating result and your more annoyed than us becuase you've lost a manager which most reckon "wasn't all that good!"

    As for PAOLOofESSEX's comment, for member of the year is that the best you can come up with? Pretty pathetic childish comment, you'd be laughed out of any ground with comments like that.

  • Comment number 39.

    Enjoyed seeing the bewildered look on Norwich fans faces when they were down at Exeter the other day. Must be a big shock to their fans but sacking the manager this early in a season is madness. Especially given the connection Gunn has with the club.

  • Comment number 40.

    I found it hard to believe Gunn was given the job beyond the end of last season, but he was given a contract and then signed 'his' players so to outsiders it does seem crazy to give him the boot a week into the season. Gunny is a legend, whoever you support, the guy IS Norwich City and a fundraiser for good causes. I hope that he isn't too hurt by what has happened as I know what it is like to fall out of love with your club(when, in my opinion, they employ an inexperienced, gobby manager that half the support didn't want, keep him way too long then replace him with a 'foul mouthed thug' you tend to lose that spark... I am glad I am a football fan in general and can see beyond the colour of shirts).

    In saying that I was suprised Lambert jumped ship (although reading blog comments he has a bit of 'previous' in this department!) Col U looked superb in a pre season friendly v Ipswich, only beaten by a freak own goal and a superb strike by the best player Ipswich has had in a while who they then chose to sell for peanuts (off topic but in my opinion the stupidity of the sale deserves a mention). My friends and I discussed popping our fivers on Col U for promotion as they made Town look ordinary and to be honest an opening day win wasn't a suprise, the scoreline was. I really hope Col U stay at the top and get promoted as they semed to be playing well (I've seen one full game and three lots of highlights... not much to go on but it's all I have) despite Lamberts' leaving. I did note though that Johnnie Jackson had been sold and I remember seeing someone else (name escapes me at present) being lined up to leave... is there a need to balance the books? Did the players want to go? Did the manager want them to go? I don't know but it may have had some bearing on his decision.

    I hope though this doesn't see Norwich nosedive any further, success of the Eastern Regions' football teams really benefits the area, I will be interested to see how Lambert and Norwich do in comparison to Col U. All three leagues look ripe for entertainment this season and I for one will be happy to enjoy it all.

  • Comment number 41.

    #40 writes "I did note though that Johnnie Jackson had been sold and I remember seeing someone else (name escapes me at present) being lined up to leave... is there a need to balance the books? Did the players want to go? Did the manager want them to go? I don't know but it may have had some bearing on his decision."

    There is no financial pressure at Cuckoo Farm (beyond the normal good housekeeping principles that any business should exercise) and unless the various sources that from time to time publish estimates of wealth are wide of the mark the Colchester owner is notably wealthier than Norwich's.

    Jackson was one of half a dozen senior players told by Lambert that they should go and who he tried to persuade to leave by that old favourite 'you're training with the youth team'. He also excluded him from the main pre-season friendlies and the training camp in Germany so his fitness was likely to fall behind the rest. Matt Lockwood, Phil Ifil, John White and Jamie Guy were other victims.

    Hammond was in the final year of his 2½ year contract and had said that whatever happened with the club this season he would exercise his rights to a Bosman next summer. The chairman took the decision that it makes sense to sell him now, for a fee reputedly about 66% higher than was paid for him, and recycle the money on a replacement who will be tied to Colchester for at least next season and possibly the one after. He'll probably be comfortable in the Championship and I wouldn't argue that Southampton have a decent chance of taking him there next year, even if they are probably already only chasing a play off spot this season. He's also a South Coast lad and has spent all his career there before joining Colchester.

  • Comment number 42.

    Well for years Norwich has been a "family club" "little old Norwich" with most supporters of Norwich having to endure such patronising statements such as, i hold a soft spot for little old Norwich, i follow them on the side yadda yadda.

    Now the actions of our board have caused all Norwich fans to somehow become deserving of other fans shallow decisions in wanting to see our club disintegrate. Do we really deserve it? Do we run the club? Most football teams would be clawing at the eyes to get the number of supporters we attract through the gates, and year after year we have to suffer as the people who run the club do exactly the opposite of what the fans normally think? Ridiculous.

    Its quite nice to see a ruthless buisness side being injected into this "family club" as long as it was done in the right way. Might me a massochist but i honestly am not missing the sentiment from other clubs, and hope that this is the. Other clubs want to victimise little old Norwich? Bring it on, as long as it gets us success i will quite gladly take the flack.

  • Comment number 43.

    P.S Some reason my computer decided to play up through one of the sentences so i apologise for the spelling and for this repost

    Well for years Norwich has been a "family club" "little old Norwich" with most supporters of Norwich having to endure such patronising statements such as, i hold a soft spot for little old Norwich, i follow them on the side yadda yadda.

    Now the actions of our board have caused all Norwich fans to somehow become deserving of other fans shallow decisions in wanting to see our club disintegrate. Do we really deserve it? Do we run the club? Most football teams would be clawing at the eyes to get the number of supporters we attract through the gates, and year after year we have to suffer as the people who run the club do exactly the opposite of what the fans normally think? Ridiculous.

    Its quite nice to see a ruthless buisness side being injected into this "family club", as long as it was done in the right way, then i think the appointment of Lambert is optimistic for most Norwich fans, as despite our struggling club, we still have some sort of pulling power.

    It might seem massochistic but i honestly am not missing the sentiment from other clubs. Other clubs want to victimise little old Norwich? Bring it on, as long as the fans gets the success i will quite gladly take the flack.

    I mean some of the most hated teams in the world, are also the most succesfull and most loved.

  • Comment number 44.

    Norwich have to be careful, its one thing offering lambert a steping stone but he can step off as well as on. Redknapp used pompey as a stepping stone to spurs, after pawning the kitchen sink to fund a european place and a cup win, one seson later and all the expensive baubles have been sold to stop the club self destructing. If lambert moves on he will probably take all of his staff with him doing the same to norwich. Having large crowds means nothing either, you never were a wealthy club if large crowds meant cash then you would not be in the situation your in. Take the chance to catch your breath to examine where you are, and want to be. Football is returning to a patient game your seeing smaller clubs come into the premiership with a plan to complete where they can but not at the expense of the clubs finacial future. you own your ground and your debt seem managble league one is not the place for non needed risk.

  • Comment number 45.

    Why don't colchester fans stop moaning and whinging about the Lambert affair? Its happened, live with it and stop going on about being bullied by bigger clubs, it happens all the time, get over it.


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