I’ve genuinely never been in this position before. As a Norwich City supporter when a manager has gone it’s often left me with a renewed sense of optimism. Now for the first time I have to face the honest truth that almost regardless of who we appoint as Paul Lambert’s successor he simply won’t be as good.
That’s the key when we’ve changed managers in the past, the promise of somebody better. The hope that this change will bring about the start of something new and exciting for the club. It’s a sign of his impact, it’s an indication of his talent and it’s a measure of his legacy that I simply don’t believe Norwich can appoint a better manager than the man who is set to depart.
But it goes further than that, as for me, I’m not sure there has ever been a manager I’ve liked as much as Paul Lambert. He’s the perfect blend of amiable mentor and fierce taskmaster. He rarely displayed aggressiveness on the surface but I got the impression that it was within him, along with a deep-rooted sense of purpose and incredible determination and ambition. The man is driven to succeed. This was reflected in the players he signed, hungry to prove themselves and the style in which his team played, never admitting defeat, going to the last.
“I thought we were excellent, the fans were brilliant”
Paul Lambert is a man who instantly commands respect. When he talks you listen. The things he tells you, you believe. In Lambert we trust, it’s not hard to see why. But never was a word spoken beyond which was necessary, never was a phrase not well chosen. He never patted himself on the back, indulged his ego, there was always room for improvement from both him and his team. Lambert always conducted himself with dignity except in one crucial area, the way in which he arrived and ultimately it seems has left the football club. This should perhaps tarnish his legacy but I think it speaks more to the game than to his character. This is a man heading for the top, better to enjoy the time and success we’ve had under him than be bitter when he departs.
As Norwich fans we’ve ridden on the crest of a wave which eventually was always going to break. The saddest thing about the Lambert rumours was that every Norwich fan knew the day would come, be it today, tomorrow or two years from now where he left the football club. I will always wonder what else he could have achieved had he stayed as I’ve no doubt he’ll gone on to have fantastic success at the highest level of the game.
The club moves on, players come and go, managers seek pastures new where the grass may well be greener. But with Paul Lambert as with Grant Holt, for the first time I’m not sure we can replace him with somebody I’ll like even half as much. The club has risen so rapidly, the story so much like a fairytale that the magic surrounding him is gargantuan and will be almost impossible to replace.