Paul Lambert on Norwich City’s future
Manager Paul Lambert has admitted he does not know how much further Norwich City can go after three seasons of almost non-stop success.
Saturday's 3-0 Premier League home defeat by Liverpool made it the first time the Canaries have lost three successive league matches under Lambert, who is nearing the end of his third season in charge at Carrow Road.
A record of back-to-back promotions followed by survival in the top flight – mathematically confirmed by Queens' Park Rangers' 6-1 defeat at Chelsea yesterday – amounts to a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of a club he took over in the League One relegation zone in August 2009.
But, asked after the Liverpool defeat where the club could go next and whether the challenge next season would be more difficult, Lambert said: 'I don't know how far Norwich can go, I really don't. I don't know.
'What I know is in the last few years the club has had a lot of success but you're competing in a different ball game in this league, that's for sure, because the finances dictate you have to try to compete with everybody else.
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'The top ones, on a given day, you can compete with, but over the course of the season you won't. That's the reality of it.'
The City boss also admitted he did not expect his transfer budget to be substantially bigger than last summer, when he signed eight players, two of them on loan deals.
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'No, not really, it's not. We have to work with what we've got,' he said.
He added: 'You have to keep moving forward.
'Every club in football when you get a new season needs new players, not just Norwich.'
Asked if there were players he had his sights on, he said: 'Yes, but finance dictates a lot. We have to watch and see what's going to happen.'
The Liverpool defeat, courtesy of a brilliant Luis Su�rez hat-trick, means City have taken just eight points from the past 11 Premier League games, all the more grateful for their excellent Easter and a memorable 2-1 win at Tottenham.
'We were beaten by the better team,' said Lambert.
'We lost goals that were disappointing but there are not many times I've walked away from here and been disappointed. Tonight I am but that's the game.
'I can't be too critical of the team because they've put the club where they are today. You pick yourself up and go again.'
Controversial Uruguayan striker Su�rez cashed in on mistakes by three of City's back four to record his first Liverpool treble.
'They were three bad mistakes – I won't blame any individuals but as a team we lost three bad goals,' said Lambert.
'You can't give somebody of that calibre time on the ball and chances. They can hurt you. He's certainly a top, top player.
'His finishing is great but it should never have happened in the first place.
'Every game we have to be bang at it and if you're not things like that can happen, especially when you're up against that magnitude of team or calibre of player.'
City lost full-back Adam Drury, who suffered a groin injury in only the eighth minute and had to be substituted, while skipper and top scorer Grant Holt played only the final 15 minutes as one of five players left out after the 2-0 defeat at Blackburn.
'He's played a lot. The Everton and Spurs games, Manchester City and Blackburn, that was a lot of games for us as a team so I've got to try to freshen it up,' said Lambert.
The Canaries complete their away programme with their first visit to the Emirates Stadium to face third-placed Arsenal next Saturday (12.45pm).
'It's great, it's something you go and enjoy,' said Lambert.
'You don't go there with any fear. I'd rather go to Arsenal than where I was two years ago.'