Lambert - Players deserve all the praise
PUBLISHED: 12:39 24 October 2011 | UPDATED: 12:39 24 October 2011
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Manager Paul Lambert refused to take any credit for the inspired substitution that helped Norwich City claim a memorable Premier League draw against big-spending Liverpool.
Lambert sent on double player of the season Grant Holt 11 minutes into the second half at Anfield and the lion-hearted striker marked his 100th appearance for the Canaries with a stunning goal after less than four minutes on the field, powering home a header in front of the Kop from Anthony Pilkington’s cross.
The goal, on the hour, was Holt’s 55th for the club, cancelling out ex-Canary Craig Bellamy’s goal in first-half stoppage time, and the perfect answer to those who may have questioned whether the 30-year-old still has a role to play in the top flight.
Lambert played down what appeared to be another master stroke in making the change when he sent on Holt for winger Elliott Bennett to provide more muscle up front: “I think the game is all about players anyway,” he said.
“They’re the most important people at the club, along with the people that come and watch. Grant came on and I thought it was an absolutely fantastic header.
“Benno’s been brilliant for me but we just thought we needed somebody else up top maybe to try to hurt Liverpool a bit. I thought Steve Morison was brilliant again, and Grant took a bit of pressure off him with the physical side of it and the header was a terrific one.”
Holt almost scored a second five minutes later when Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina palmed away another powerful header from another Pilkington cross.
“He’s had another one at the back post, and I thought Holt and Morison together were an absolute handful,” said Lambert.
Holt played for City Reserves against Aston Villa in front of a crowd of below 1,000 at Carrow Road just four days before the Liverpool game, but Lambert insisted ahead of the trip to Anfield that he was “a huge part of this club” – and so it proved.
“I don’t have favourites. I don’t have any preference. I try to pick a team that will win this club a game of football and I’ve told them all that,” said Lambert.
“I know the disappointment that people can suffer when they don’t play, but I need everybody at this football club to drive it the same way. If they do that, we’ve got a chance. Every player I’ve got is definitely going the same way at the minute.”
Lambert praised his players for fighting back for a point after what he felt was a below-par display in the first half.
He said: “I thought in the first half we were a bit frightened by it. We never really got going.
“Liverpool put us under immense pressure but the way the lads defended and what they did to try and ride the storm was great.
“There was no ranting or raving at half-time, but Ian (Culverhouse) and myself said to the lads ‘Just believe that you can get something and don’t have any regrets’. I think that showed in the second-half performance.”
Lambert also praised goalkeeper John Ruddy for the brilliant stoppage-time save from Luis Suarez that guaranteed a point.
He said: “That save I thought was world class. I hear all the rumours England may be looking at him – they could do a lot worse.”