Lambert Leaves Us With Great Memories
The day is Sunday 15th May 2005 and I`m standing at Craven Cottage. I was 13, my parents had bought the tickets as a surprise and all we had to do was win to stay in the Premier League. We buckled, we choked, we got demolished. A 6-0 loss to Fulham condemned us to relegation. There seemed to be no fight on the pitch, and the manager himself didn`t seem to upset about it.
Fast forward to Sunday 3rd May 2009 and I`m standing at The Valley. A win wouldn`t guarantee us survival in the Championship but it was vital to stand a chance. A 4-2 loss followed and a win for Barnsley elsewhere meant even if we`d won we`d have been relegated. League One was to be our league for the 2009-2010 season and, as well as shouting with the crowd at the board, I was devastated. What had happened to my beloved team? Was there any way back? Were we doomed to the lowed leagues like other once great teams such as Bradford?
Move forward to Saturday 8th August 2009 and I wasn`t at the game due to coming back off holiday. My plane arrives at 4.40 and I`m waiting to be able to turn my phone on and find out what the score was. I looked, and I gasped, 6-1 at home to Colchester!? That can`t be right! I thought it must be a mistake so checked back 10 minutes later; 7-1 and full time. I, like many others, shocked and confused, wondered just how bad, and how far this slump could get!
On the 18th August 2009 Paul Lambert is appointed manager of Norwich City Football Club. I`ll be honest, I thought the club had gone for the cheap option, the easy option, and I was worried. What followed was miraculous.
Unfortunately due to other commitments I could not be at The Valley again on Saturday 17th April 2010 but a 1-0 win put us back in the Championship, and a win against Gillingham the week after secured the League One title as well as promotion.
Back in the Championship, what are we aiming for; survival, mid-table, top-half? Think bigger! Suddenly we`re in the playoff places and chasing down Cardiff and QPR at the top of the table.
Sunday November 28th 2010 at Carrow Road; the first East Anglian Derby for two years and of course, expectations are high. A huge 4-1 win and a hat-trick from Grant Holt defeated that little team down the road and sent out a strong message that we were back.
April 2011 is the month to see with Norwich as a 6-0 win over Scunthorpe, a crushing 5-1 victory at Ipswich complete an emphatic 9-2 double and THAT goal in THAT 3-2 win over Derby had us finally believing we were destined for the Premier League. That celebration will never be forgotten, nor will that commentary!
Again, unfortunately I was unable to make the Portsmouth game but I did see it at my local football club. When Simeon Jackson scores the place went crazy, and again at full time; we`d done it! Back-to-back promotions to the Premier League! If anyone had even debated that a couple of years ago they`d have been called mad but we`d done it.
Then a fantastic return to the Premier League with a 12th place finish. A 4-2 win over Newcastle United in December, a league double over "Swansalona", a clean sheet against Chelsea seconds from a huge point against Manchester United, a huge win at Tottenham Hotspur and a well earned point against Arsenal capping off one of the best years in Norwich`s history.
Now what was the point behind that trip down Memory Lane?
After the two relegations Premier League football got further away, the club got worse and was nearing administration.
Paul Lambert revived the club and has raised us to a point I never thought we`d reach again. We`ve played attractive football, got big wins and signed fantastic players. I don`t turn up to a game thinking "how many are we going to concede this week?" I turn up to games thinking "we can win this!"
Yes it will be gutting if he has left, but we all know he won`t/wouldn`t be around forever but even him leaving isn`t a bad thing. We`re now in a position - partly because of him - to go and get another great manager instead of scraping the bottom of the barrel like we were a few years ago.
Don`t dislike him for leaving because that was always going to happen. Instead, remember the memories because he has given us so many good times. If you still need convincing, search "Norwich Derby Commentary" on YouTube, listen to it and tell me you didn`t smile and remember that day.
One of Norwich`s greatest managers, a hall of fame member and when he does leave he`ll be fondly remembered.