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Motivation is the manager’s X-Factor – just look at what Paul Lambert did at Norwich City

18:11 10 January 2015

Paul Lambert celebrating gaining promotion at Norwich. Picture: BILL SMITH

Paul Lambert celebrating gaining promotion at Norwich. Picture: BILL SMITH

Archant © 2011

There’s a sod’s law which runs through the sports desk: at times of managerial change, someone will be off.

David De Gea saves from Sergio Aguero during the Manchester derby. Picture: PA/MARTIN RICKETTDavid De Gea saves from Sergio Aguero during the Manchester derby. Picture: PA/MARTIN RICKETT

It happened to me when Bryan Gunn was unveiled and it happened to Paddy Davitt when Paul Lambert departed Carrow Road. Others have been affected in varying degrees, but it’s hardly the sort of thing you can plan.

After all, as the fork went into the squid at lunchtime the last thing I expected was to hear that Neil Adams had resigned.

Yes, the FA Cup defeat at Preston was, by all accounts, way, way below what was expected – although why anyone expects anything in the FA Cup nowadays is beyond me.

The last two home games have been 5-0 and 6-1 wins – how many managers leave their jobs after those sort of scorelines, and with their team seventh in the table?

When Bryan Gunn was sacked just two games – albeit one was a horrendous 7-1 loss – into the 2009-10 season, City were the subject of much finger wagging. When Chris Hughton was sacked past his sell-by date, but with only five Premier League games remaining, they were criticised again – and Gary Lineker is still mightily annoyed by it, judging by a recent tweet.

Both managers were in much smellier stuff than Adams, the FA Cup game notwithstanding.

At what point does a manager, or his employers, decide that the plan isn’t working? There won’t be too many Norwich City managers who have departed with their team in such a good position. Presumably, it is the under-achieving that was the concern. The accepted theory is that City have a squad which is capable of earning promotion.

But that quality becomes near redundant if it is not playing to its potential. If City’s current players performed as they should be, then Adams would still be manager.

So is it the players’ fault for not performing? Or is it Adams’ fault for not getting the best out of them?

Paul Lambert has cropped up time and again in this week’s debates, and while some will say it is irrelevant, the truth is that Lambert extracted every last bit from his players. He discovered the motivation for each and every one of them, and in turn was rewarded with performances that lacked nothing in effort.

Lambert had the ability to do what many of his predecessors and successors couldn’t – make his players play to their limit.

If Alex Neil can get the best out of the current squad, it could be a thrilling second half of the season.

Keepers need competition

Goalkeeper David de Gea would appear to be in the form of his life at Manchester United, and now faces the task of keeping Victor Valdes out of the side.

The rumours that Valdes might sign will have kept the United keeper on his toes: now that he has actually agreed an 18-month deal, de Gea will need to be sharper than ever.

Every club needs two good keepers: you can’t have one stand-out and one just for emergencies and cup games. Competition for the most isolated figure on the pitch needs to be at fever pitch.

The only question I have is: didn’t Liverpool fancy Valdes?

Perhaps they did – because they need him. A dodgy keeper saps confidence from the players in front of him, and Simon Mignolet and Brad Jones just aren’t good enough for a team which had pretensions of cracking the top four again.

Top of the world to all

It’s no secret that boxing has gone from being a subject of passing interest to a personal passion.

But while I do enjoy something that is alien to me – controlled and licensed violence – I am quite easily confused by the state of the sport in a worldwide context.

There are countless governing bodies and there are countless titles. The latter I don’t have a problem with because it is a device which ensures proper competition between fighters.

But the number of authorities perplexes me.

Now, World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman wants change, including a tournament of champions for each weight division, with the winner from among the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO champions being the only one who can rightfully be called a “world champion”. After all, how can there be several different heavyweight world champions?

It makes a mockery of the title – and boxing is better than that.

3 comments

  • OMG! Another article where PL is mentioned yet again!!. We're now on to the third manager since PL left and he's still getting mentioned by Archant!. This is frankly embarrassing!, this unhealthy obsession with PL needs to stop.

    Report this comment

    Michael Merrill

    Sunday, January 11, 2015

  • Lamberts perceived strengths have not carried over to Villa where he is deeply unpopular with the fans and producing goal shy football with just eleven from 21 games, easily worst in PL. I often say our board got lucky when he came here, maybe Lambo was lucky too. Can't see him surviving much longer and will probably need to rebuild his career in the lower leagues.

    Report this comment

    Lincs Canary

    Sunday, January 11, 2015

  • So whats happened at Villa. Not many managers are continually successful. Unless they have a bottomless pit of money.

    Report this comment

    sharky

    Sunday, January 11, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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