Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe Lambert revolution - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The Lambert revolution - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The Lambert revolution

On the 8th of August 2009, Paul Lambert’s Colchester began their League One campaign with a trip to newly relegated Norwich City.  The Essex side weren’t highly fancied in the division and traveled to Carrow Road as heavy underdogs for the match.  However, under the leadership of the young Scot, The U’s found themselves 5-0 up at half time, eventually running out 7-1 winners.  The devastating result was Norwich City’s heaviest home defeat in their 107-year history and, towards the end of the 90 minutes, two home fans ran onto the pitch and threw their season tickets at Canaries manager Bryan Gunn, a decision they would learn to regret very soon.

Shortly after this amazing result, the Norwich hierarchy acted fast.  Bryan Gunn was sacked and replaced immediately by Lambert, the man who had embarrassed them just a few days earlier.  On the face of it, the decision looked hasty and a little rash.  However, it was more than justified, as Lambert guided the Canaries to the League One title that season.  He then followed it up immediately with a second place finish in the Championship, achieving historic back-to-back promotions to the top flight.  And the upward surge didn’t stop there, with Lamberts men in yellow currently sitting in 8th in the Premiership.  A positive start to the season has continued into 2012 and Norwich fans will be praying it doesn’t end any time soon.

The team that Gunn fielded on the opening day of the 09/10 season looks very different to what can be seen today.  Only Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan started that day and take their place in Lambert’s Premier League squad.  However, that’s not to say this season’s Norwich are a team of top flight veterans; the manager has put together a group filled with individuals who have spent the majority of their careers playing in the lower leagues.  This is perhaps best demonstrated by his three main striking options: Simeon Jackson, Grant Holt and Steve Morison. 

Jackson, still only 24 years old, enjoyed spells at Rushden & Diamonds and Gillingham before moving to Carrow Road in 2010.  Holt has spent long periods of his career at Barrow and Rochdale before he signed for Norwich from Shrewsbury Town in 2009.  Morison, now a Welsh international, has risen fast from non-league football.  He was playing for Bishop’s Stortford as recently as 2006, before spending three years with Stevenage.  He earned his big move to Milwall in 2009, where his goal scoring form earned him the big move to the top flight, which he has grabbed firmly with both hands.  Other success stories include midfielder Anthony Pilkington, signed from Huddersfield in the summer, and goalkeeper John Ruddy.  The stopper was picked up from Everton in 2010, having been contracted there for five years and heading out on nine separate loan spells, including two at Stockport County.

Norwich have achieved some impressive results on their way to the top half of the Premiership, including a 4-2 victory over high-flying Newcastle.  However, Saturday’s result at the Liberty Stadium was perhaps the best yet, which is also an indicator of how far Swansea themselves have progressed recently.  Traveling to what has become something of a fortress this season, Lambert’s side recorded a 3-2 victory against a side that doesn’t concede a lot of goals at home.  It also announced the Canaries as number one among the league’s three newly-promoted teams, completing a double over Swansea and moving well clear of the Welsh side and struggling QPR. 

Brendan Rodgers is the subject of a lot of praise for the way in which Swansea play football but, in reality, it is the same brand of football the club has adopted since Roberto Martinez was in charge.  It’s true that he has attracted some quality players and done a superb job, but it’s also fair to argue that Lambert deserves higher praise yet.  The Scot took the helm at a struggling football club and turned their fortunes around immediately.  Norwich City continue an unlikely push for Europe just two seasons after appearing in the third tier of English football.  As for Paul Lambert, he’s the latest in a long line of Scottish managers to make a real impression in English football.

Paddy von Behr @HighBalls1

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