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Lambert brings feelgood factor to Norwich City

PUBLISHED: 15:04 27 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:45 02 July 2010

Canaries fans, who have responded en masse to an Evening News survey.

Canaries fans, who have responded en masse to an Evening News survey.

Peter Walsh

A major fans survey has singled out City boss Paul Lambert as the man responsible for bringing back the feel-good factor to Carrow Road and dulling the pain of last season's relegation disaster.

A major fans survey has singled out City boss Paul Lambert as the man responsible for bringing back the feel-good factor to Carrow Road and dulling the pain of last season's relegation disaster.

The reversal of fortune that Norwich City Football Club is currently experiencing on the pitch has led to a seismic shift in the way the fans feel about the club too, as our latest supporters poll can reveal.

With the Canaries riding high at the top of League One the mood, both on and off the pitch, is one of optimism with Lambert the man many fans point to as the one responsible for lifting the gloom around Carrow Road.

If relegation into the third tier of English football for the first time in almost 50 years was not bad enough the shocking 7-1 home defeat to Colchester United on the opening day of the League One looked to be an ominous sign of even darker days to come for City.

But just 10 days later the architect of that record-breaking home defeat, Lambert together with former City favourite Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa, were on their way to Carrow Road to help rebuild Norwich's shattered season.

The rest, as they say is history, and City who on Saturday beat Brentford at home for their 10th successive home win - equalling a club record set in 1985 - 86 - are almost unrecognisable from the team which started the season.

But there are still problems. Earlier this month City bosses revealed record debts of £23m, a staggering figure which has sparked questions over whether the club's biggest asset - Carrow Road - might be put up for sale.

Chairman Alan Bowkett and the Norwich City board are considering a number of options to get the club's finances back on track and selling the stadium is among them, although Delia Smith has said this will “absolutely not” happen.

But while City's finances are likely to remain a long term concern the immediate priority for the club and fans alike is winning promotion back into the Championship.

And as our survey of more than 400 fans shows everyone feels that in the short-term at least the club is heading in the right direction, and perhaps most importantly has the right man in the hot seat.

The results included:

94pc of fans say the club is moving in the right direction

Almost 80pc of fans feel happy or content with the general health of the club, despite the worrying current financial situation the club finds itself in

94pc believe the club will be promoted this season, with 20pc of fans polled citing the Premiership as the target within five years.

98 pc of fans feel Paul Lambert is the right man to take the club forward

70pc said they would be prepared to pay even more for a 2010/11 season ticket

75pc said they would be against the club selling Carrow Road to help fend off its debts.

Norwich City fans today welcomed the findings of the survey which they say show the club is heading in the right direction - on the pitch at least.

Kathy Blake, secretary of the Norwich City Independent Supporters Association (NCISA) said: “It's a results-driven business and the survey was conducted at a time when everyone's feeling very positive so I'm not surprised.

“My personal views coincide with the majority and I think most fans who weren't surveyed would say the same. There's definitely a feel good factor at the moment and it's about time. We've learned from our mistakes and we've got the right people in charge at last so long may it continue.”

Mrs Blake said Lambert was perhaps the main reason why most fans felt so optimistic after having masterminded the turn around from the dugout.

She said: “Undoubtedly he's a star of the future. I don 't feel that he will be here forever and feel he's got great things ahead of him, but I certainly don't think he will be leaving here for the likes of Burnley. He's destined for greater things and my main worry is Celtic - I'm sure he will be top of their shopping list.

“I think all Norwich fans should become Celtic fans and hope they win every week to keep the wolf from the door.”

And while the full extent of Norwich City's financial problems were laid bare earlier this month with the publication of the club's accounts, Mrs Blake said there was still reason to be optimistic on that front too.

She said: “Show me a football club that's not in debt. There's a malaise in football in general and Norwich City Football Club's debt is not as great as others. It is being managed and at least we've got the crown jewels of Carrow Road to fall back on.”

This was the third fans survey to be carried out by the Evening News with previous polls conducted in October 2007, when Peter Grant was in charge, and in February 2008, when Glenn Roeder was in the hot seat.

The first survey revealed that six out of 10 fans were dissatisfied with the club and a massive 98pc believed it was moving in the wrong direction.

The 2008 survey, which came during the early months of Roeder's reign appeared to show that fans were happy with their lot - at least much more so than they were under Grant.

At the time 83pc said the club was moving in the right direction, 81pc were happy or content with how the club was going, and more than half believed the club would be promoted within five years.

But it proved to be a false dawn for fans and Roeder himself. After keeping Grant's team up in 2007/08 Roeder was universally cited as the man responsible for City's eventual relegation to League One last season when his successor, Bryan Gunn, was at the helm.

To see part one of the fans survey turn to pages four and five

Opinion - see page eight

What do you think? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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