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Paul Lambert On Norwich And Managing In The Premier League And EFL

Paul Lambert On Norwich And Managing In The Premier League And EFL
Paul Lambert On Norwich And Managing In The Premier League And EFL

You started your managerial career at Livingston before moving on to Wycombe Wanderers. You led Wycombe to the semi-finals of the League Cup during your time there. You also managed Neil Lennon for a brief spell there. What was that like given the fact you were teammates for so long?

“Wycombe was great. I knew what I was getting into when I went there because it was a good club.

“I had a strong group of players there who were really good guys. Top professionals.

“The Cup run was brilliant and a real highlight of my time there because to reach that stage of the league cup as a lower league team takes some doing.

“The following year, after that cup run, we had to change a couple of things and Lenny was leaving Nottingham Forest after he went there from Celtic.

“I thought that we needed somebody to play that holding midfield role and Neil came down for a short time and did what we needed him to do which was good given all that he had achieved in his career previously.

“Overall, the club itself was great and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. It was a great starting point for me in English football as a manager.”

You managed Colchester United before taking over at Norwich City in 2009 who you took from League One to the Premier League. You defeated Norwich City 7-1 in your last game as Colchester manager before moving to Carrow Road. What was it like going from beating Norwich so heavily to then taking the job in quick succession?

“It was just a whirlwind time, but football often is like that.

“In terms of that 7-1 game, you just think it’s a normal game that you are going to be playing.

“I went down there with Colchester, and we went into the game with Colchester knowing that it was a going to be a big crowd in at Carrow Road so I challenged the players to show what they could do in that environment.

“It was a roasting hot day that day as I remember it but I knew we had built a decent little side at Colchester, so we went to Carrow Road without any fear.

“That being said, it was surreal as a day because I remember looking at the clock and seeing that twenty minutes had passed and that we were 5-0 up.

“I thought, this is unbelievable, what’s happening here because, honestly, it could have been more than seven.

“We had some unbelievable chances in the second half to potentially score even more goals.

“Every player for Colchester that day was excellent.

“Then a few days later, the owner of Colchester asked to see me and told me Norwich had come in for me and that he thought he couldn’t stop it from happening as it was a great opportunity.

“So, that was that and I went to Norwich City because I looked at their squad and thought, this squad is too good to be in league one.

“There were some really good players in there and as a group of staff, we thought, if we can push them along a little bit and see how they do then, we could be on to something.

“After that, the players were unbelievable and the run they put on to win promotion was extraordinary.

“Everyone at the club bought into what we wanted to do, and the group of players were absolutely brilliant.

“To go from League One to the Championship then bounce back up to the Premier League and stay in the Premier League comfortably in tenth place, I don’t think that will ever be done again.

“Especially when you consider that it was virtually the same group of guys that had been with me since the club was in League One.

“They were absolutely fantastic. Every single one of them.”

You had a great time at Norwich which led to you becoming Aston Villa manager in 2012. Villa was a club going through difficult times when you went there. How do you reflect on that period now?

“It’s funny because I needed a rest from Norwich because I was tired after what we did there.

“I needed to leave to have a break and recharge the batteries as I never really wanted to go back in right away.

“However, you cannot account for what football throws up and quickly after Norwich, Aston Villa asked me would I go.

“We had some good players at the club but when I realised there wasn’t too much money and we would have to sell players on, I knew it was going to be a hard gig.

“Due to the parameters of our budget, we had to get rid of some players because of the money but I think we did a good job there given the circumstances.”

Finally, Paul, in terms of your managerial career after Villa, you had spells with Blackburn, Wolves, Stoke and Ipswich. Do you want to get back into management again in the near future and would you consider managing in Scotland again?

“I definitely want to manage again but I think my time is finished in Scotland. Great times and a great grounding but your life moves on.

“I like watching the Celtic lads play and hopefully they have success.

“I think everybody wants to go back in when they’re out of the game and time will tell whether that happens or not.

“Blackburn was really good and then I went to Wolves, which was great. It was a brilliant club.

“Stoke was also an incredible club but I only had 15 games at Stoke which was a shame. I never have a bad word to say about Stoke because it was a great club. Great people working there, and great supporters.

“Wolves were exactly the same and we had a great cup run with Wolves in the FA Cup beating Liverpool and Stoke at that time.

“Blackburn was also a really good club, but they had no money, and it was a case of constantly firefighting which gets tiring over time.”