THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

24 July ~ Paul Lambert may have led Norwich back to the Premier League after two successive promotions but that has not spared him from criticism over the summer. The discontent is rooted in a transfer policy of buying “young and hungry” players. Lambert’s time at the club has been punctuated by shrewd acquisitions – notably of striker Grant Holt from Shrewsbury and Peterborough full-back Russell Martin – but his most recent signings are causing frustration in Norfolk. After all, you do get £50 million for going up, don’t you?

The grumblings, perhaps in part caused by the persistent linking of fellow new-boys QPR with Premier League nomad Peter Crouch, illustrate a wider issue – whether newly promoted sides need to recruit “Premier League experience” in order to survive. After all, the Blackpool team that nearly beat Manchester United back in January was hardly steeped in a wealth of top-flight nous. But having laughed off a reported interest in Miroslav Klose, the biggest problem now facing Lambert is placating fans that believe that he is preparing a squad with imminent relegation in mind.

Alongside the 29-year-old Millwall striker Steve Morison, little-known wingers Elliot Bennett and Anthony Pilkington and Leeds midfielder Bradley Johnson, Lambert’s only purchase with Premier League experience is the injury-prone James Vaughan. The squad has been bolstered by the loan signings of perpetual Old Trafford reserve Richie De Laet and Tottenham's serial loanee Kyle Naughton but the trio have amassed no more than 50 Premier League starts between them in ten-odd years.

Yet last summer fans were complaining that Norwich didn’t have a squad capable of sustaining a Championship play-off push. Admittedly, the Premier League is a vastly different level, but why destabilise a side that has proved its resilience?

Norwich’s recent history provides part of the answer. A club that has been hurtling between divisions in recent years can hardly be expected to splash out on unknown quantities. And with such a high premium now placed on the British talent that Lambert would clearly like to sign, the merits of buying players from lower levels and integrating them into a successful system are obvious.

It will take at least two years of stability in the top flight before Norwich could compete with the likes of Wolves in the transfer market. With such budgetary constraints in place, the chances of signing even a Jonathan Greening or Jason Roberts are reduced significantly. Josh Clarke

Comments (19)
Comment by double hipness 2011-07-24 08:26:03

Criticism and grumblings, not from where I'm sitting.
Has this been written after a quick 5 minute trawl through some of the more illiterate postings on the Pink Un Message Board. I'd be grumbling if we were signing the likes of Roberts and Greening.
In Lambert We Trust

Comment by t.j.vickerman 2011-07-24 08:29:28

I think Lambert has done more than enough to have the chance to do things his own way. I think it's a sensible policy as the new acquisitions will be on fairly modest salaries that won't upset the harmony in the way a 'big name' player like Crouch or Klose would.

If they were to go down, they could make a healthy profit from selling any players who gained Premier League admirers, and still have a squad packed with players who have proven themselves as good Football League players to give them a good chance of returning to the Premier League quickly.

As a Huddersfield fan, I'll be keen to follow Pilks' progress. He missed the last few months of the season with a serious injury so it seems a bit of a gamble to sign him before he's proved his fitness.

Comment by Pictou 2011-07-24 10:20:22

Criticism? Grumblings? Maybe in the Clarke household. But beyond those four walls, Lambert has unequivocal support from the fans. The policy of buying players on an upward curve makes perfect sense, both financially and in terms of squad psychology and any suggestion that this has been met with resistance by supporters is inexplicable.

How laughable to compare our seven signings less favourably with silly gossip about another striker Who won't be joining QPR. A club riven by internal dispute and whose marquee signing this summer is the barely ambulant Kieron Dyer. That kind of 'Premier League experience' we can do without.

Oh and Bryan Gunn signed Holt, not Lambert, as pretty much any NCFC fan would be able to tell you.

Comment by s10_yellow 2011-07-24 10:33:12

Lazy article from someone whose name I recognise as a Norwich fan. This is not the view of the vast majority of Norwich fans and you seem to be taken an issue out of the dribbling moans of an attention seeking minority on the Pink'un forum and run with it in the name of 'sports journalism'.

Hope I never see the day when we aspire to sign Jonathan Greening and Jason Roberts. OTBC

Comment by phnompenhandy 2011-07-24 10:35:25

City have got to be prudent, and I think they have every chance of securing 17th. QPR are asset-stripping, and Swansea aren't strengthening either. Together with Blackburn's implosion under the chicken-chokers, I can see Norwich's teamwork grinding out enough draws to survive.

Comment by crazyhorsefc 2011-07-24 13:18:53

If Steve Morison gets into double figures (appearances, not goals) I'll be surprised. He flattered to deceive at Millwall thanks to the service he got.

Yes, he has the ability to score goals out of nothing but when the going gets tough the size of the chip on his shoulder grows...

Comment by Dalef65 2011-07-24 13:34:41

I dont really see what Paul Lambert has done to deserve any criticsm at all really.....

Is this author seriously suggesting that Norwich should blow £50 Million on foreign international marquee signings.......?

Is that a credible strategy for a newly promoted club these days...?
Really....!?

Surely it is better (and more desirable,on the whole)to live within your means,and not bankrupt the club by buying and paying silly wages to "big name" players,in a perhaps unsuccesful attempt to stay up.

The Stoke City and/or West Brom model has to be the way to go here.
Start off gradually and maybe even accept the fact that you might not survive in the first season.
Then use a combination of selling players on,and the Parachute payments to bounce back stronger.That way you stand a chance of competing without sending the club into financial meltdown.

Comment by jonmid 2011-07-24 13:57:08

and don't forget wolves's model as well one of the few clubs not in debt

Comment by Dalef65 2011-07-24 15:19:28

Yes indeed Wolves as well as Stoke and WBA

Comment by bradwelljosh 2011-07-24 16:42:57

I think that the article has been massively misinterpreted. It doesn’t advocate the signings of players such as Greening or Roberts – rather highlights how both, as examples of individuals with Premier League experience, are not only financially unfeasible, but also definitely not the kind of players Lambert needs to bring in.

As mentioned, the system employed by Lambert is evidently working and is an example of how a football club should be ran.

Any discontent is not representative of the entirety of the club’s fanbase but supporters with those opinions – not the sort who are likely to be vocal on this site – do sadly actually exist.

Comment by Pictou 2011-07-24 17:25:15

Sorry 'Bradwelljosh' (author?) but that doesn't wash. Article begins by talking of 'grumblings', 'criticism' and 'discontent' as if that is the popular view when, in reality, Lambert's strategy has almost universal support.

If the article has been 'massively misinterpreted' it is because it is poorly written and suggests a wide-held view which simply doesn't exist.

Comment by Arturo 2011-07-24 18:58:32

No criticism or grumblings from myself, or any of the Norwich fans that I know. As a couple of posters have said above, the tawdry Pink'Un message board is probably the source for all that, and I haven't bothered going on there for about three seasons anyway.

Lambert has worked miracles in two years. I think I can trust his judgement somewhat even if a few others can't.

Comment by double hipness 2011-07-24 19:01:37

Sorry Bradwelljosh but the implication is clearly that Norwich fans are aspiring to such marquee signings as Greening and Roberts when I don't believe that is the case.

Your assertion that "the discontent is rooted in a transfer policy of buying “young and hungry” players" and "his most recent signings are causing frustration in Norfolk" is not a view that I hear aired at all.
The suggestion is that this is the commonly held view, when in reality it's that of an almost invisibly small minority.
Lambert is trusted 100% a trust earned by the magnificent way he has turned the club around in less than 2 years in charge.

Comment by MoeTheBarman 2011-07-24 21:56:54

Good luck to Norwich next season, Blackpool showed what can be achieved without blowing millions on no marks. They only went down because of a freakishly high cut off point last year. I can't imagine anyone but Ipswich fans who doesn't wish you well next season :)

Comment by madmickyf 2011-07-25 04:31:31

Will Chris Martin get a game next season? If not can you please send him back to Kenilworth Road sharpish. Good luck to the Canaries, I reckon you can stay up without blowing millions on dodgy imports or fading EPL journeymen.

Comment by HG Yellow 2011-07-25 11:25:37

Has this article been written purely to get a reaction from Norwich fans? I didn't think WSC was like that. While it has been noted that generally Lambert's signings have no Prem experience no-one is complaining. They are all young, hungry with something to prove. As this has been Lambert's policy from the word go and seen us promtoted twice in as many seasons everyone is on his side. The other advantage is that should we be relegated most of these players will probably stay, something sorely missing from our last round of Premier League acquistions. Fianlly, for the record Gunn signed Holt not Lambert.

Comment by USAcanary 2011-07-25 17:31:02

Spot the true fact

(1) Holt signed by Lambert

(2) Morison is 29

(3) You get 50 million for going up.

(4) Paul Lambert is constantly under fire from the fans

(5) Josh Clarke should NOT be writing for WSC

Clue: the number is bigger than 4

Comment by Waddockhunt 2011-07-25 23:28:49

This is probably the worst article that I have ever read in WSC. I simply cannot remember a time when the fans, board, players and manager have been so contented and united. There is something special happening at NCFC which won't be undermined by such malicious rubbish. OTBC.

Comment by skiddy83 2011-07-30 00:07:09

An 'article' with very little fact, a quick google search would reveal Holt was signed by Gunn and Morisons actual age. Not to mention no Norwich fan worth their salt having any questions over the recruitment strategy. What a poor article in a generally very good publication.

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