Norwich City boss Paul Lambert plays it coy over plans for next season
PUBLISHED: 14:04 14 May 2012
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Manager Paul Lambert would not be drawn on his future plans after guiding Norwich City to their highest finish in English football for 18 years.
A 2-0 victory over Aston Villa at Carrow Road gave the Canaries 12th place in the Premier League and, but for a late winner for fellow promoted side Swansea against Liverpool, they would have ended the season in 11th spot.
The result completed three extraordinary seasons for City since Lambert took over in August 2009 when they were in the lower reaches of League One. The last time they finished as high was also 12th in the Premiership in 1993-94.
Villa fans were signing Lambert’s name during the game – and national newspaper reports tipped him as a potential replacement for under-fire manager Alex McLeish last month.
But asked after the game if Norwich could match his ambitions, he said: “I don’t really worry about myself, to be honest. I just worry about the team.
“Speculation doesn’t really bother me – I just get on with it. You can never stop people speculating about your team or yourself.”
Asked directly if he thought he would still be at Norwich at the start of the season, he said: “It’s a hard one to answer, that, because, as I say, I’ve got a contract here and everybody’s doing great in their own respective jobs.
“We’ll get this season out of the road and then I’ll see what happens and think of what’s gone on and the achievements we’ve done, and we’ll wait and see.”
As to the surreal atmosphere, with his name being chanted by both sets of fans, Lambert said: “Aston Villa’s not my team. Norwich is and the Norwich fans singing that is greatly appreciated.
“I understand what’s happening at Aston Villa. I can see what’s happening with the crowd and the manager, which is never nice. I said the same about Steve Kean at Blackburn. It’s never nice when you hear that from your own fans, but that’s out of my control. My control is Norwich and the Norwich fans have been brilliant for me.”
City’s performance against Villa brought the highest praise from Lambert as they followed up their 3-3 draw at Arsenal with some polished football.
“I thought we carried on from last week. I thought we were terrific the whole game,” said Lambert. “We were fantastic and I thought we deserved to win the game. It’s a fitting way to end what’s been an incredible season for us. The task was to try to stay in the league, no matter how you did it. Everybody tipped Norwich to go down and we surpassed that long ago and I thank the players for their efforts. It’s been incredible.
“It’s been unbelievable what’s happened here – three years of success. It’s never easy to get one year, let alone three and we’ve had three years on the bounce.”
Finishing 12th had exceeded City’s hopes “by miles”, he said.
“Hardly anybody has played Premier League football, some haven’t even played Championship football and to play the way they have this season speaks volumes for their character,” he added.
With a string of senior players out of contract, Lambert has a decision to make over the immediate future of Adam Drury, Elliott Ward, Zak Whitbread, David Fox and Aaron Wilbraham, among others.
“The current group I will speak to over the course of the coming week,” he said.