Paul Lambert – the football managers’ man
Focus Images 2009
It is now customary in these parts to rave about Paul Lambert – and rightly so. The fans love him for what he has turned Norwich City into and no doubt the players agree for doing likewise for them, plus he always has their backs.
• Two things I remember from April’s trip to the Liberty Stadium: 1) Swansea celebrating like they had gone up; and 2) Grant Holt et al being offered outside by a few gloating Swans fans up in a box during the post-match interviews. Good reasons to revel in teaching the Jacks a lesson on Saturday.
• I won’t write a column on it just yet, but I’ll happily admit feeling for the first time City may do more than just survive this season. On the basis of said optimism, I think City will get at least a point at Liverpool. Or having talked it up, be uncharacteristically out-played!
• Southampton watch – still no sign of their early momentum slowing. Worse than that, they looked good at Derby. Long way to go yet, mind.
• As always, I enjoyed Crown Meadow on Saturday. While it was a tough FA Cup exit for Lowestoft, competitively taking on a side they hope to share a Conference division with next term should give all Trawlerboys more hunger than ever to deliver it.
And that last point is pertinent – the respect Paul Lambert is afforded from those in the game. The majority of his quotes ooze the fact he is a football man – protective of those in the bubble – and it is not lost on his colleagues.
One subtle memory from last season came after City’s 6-0 thrashing of Scunthorpe at Carrow Road – Alan Knill’s first game in charge of the Iron and clearly a tough afternoon given the lack of new manager bounce.
As we waited by the tunnel to do a few interviews Knill walked through, followed moments later by a chasing Lambert, who put a consoling arm around him as he offered an ear and helping hand if things got tougher beyond that sunny day.
That Lambert went out of his way to do it in person, and so sincerely, spoke volumes.
And it is not only Knill. Speaking to Terry Skiverton last week we soon got on to the subject of the Canaries boss – from this point, the personable 36-year-old’s comments probably say it best…
“Paul is someone I’ve gone to on many occasions for little pieces of advice in adversity and he always comes up with gems and positive quotes to keep me going,” said Skiverton. “I’d say I’ve learned more than one or two things from his style of management and I’m trying to implement little bits and pieces from him into my club.
“He’s one of the outstanding British managers in English football at the moment. To do what he has done in the space of a few seasons is phenomenal.
“And he’s a real grounded fellow. For a young manager like myself, plying my trade in League One, to have someone like Paul on the end of a phone is vitally important. When you’re in testing times and you’ve got other people who’ve had the same and gone on to massive things, it gives great confidence.
“He’s very determined and focused on what he’s got to do – but the other side of him that perhaps people don’t see is he is out there helping other people and he’s not one of these selfish people who are all about me, me, me.
“This is the first time I’ve ever spoken about it so probably not many people know managers like him are helping other people out.
“At one point he was a rival to us in the same division – although we didn’t really get anywhere near Norwich in the games we played.”
Of course, that last comment isn’t exactly true; bringing back another one of those memories that points to exactly how far City have come under Lambert – the 3-3 draw at Huish Park in 2009.
“That was probably the first time when we had a little bit of fun because we thought we had won it in the 91st minute – we were jumping about like crazy – and then Gary Doherty headed an equaliser in the 94th minute,” said Skiverton. “So we did get close once, but that was about it.”
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