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Norwich City fans still have respect for Paul Lambert - shame that’s not mutual

PUBLISHED: 21:47 14 February 2019

Ipswich boss Paul Lambert is sent off by referee Peter Bankes during the match at Carrow Road last Sunday Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Ipswich boss Paul Lambert is sent off by referee Peter Bankes during the match at Carrow Road last Sunday Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Norwich fan Nick Conrad says Paul Lambert shouldn’t forget his time at Carrow Road, for those years are by far his greatest achievement as a manager - and City supporters still appreciate that

Have you ever felt a need to trash-talk your ex to keep your current partner happy? I’m sure it’s a very natural emotion that many experience. As a passionate Norwich City fan, it feels that our relationship with Paul Lambert is now a soured love affair. Maybe he is gutted because we’ve moved on. Whilst we currently enjoy better prospects and a richer union, he appears to be stuck in a depressing situation facing relegation with Ipswich Town. Regardless of the currently toxic feelings between the two parties, we all should remember the good times together. So...Paul, what we had was good... so please stop trash-talking our relationship. We say (mostly) nice things about you... honest!

The jabbing fingers and squaring up which occurred in the dugout last Sunday mimicked what many of us have witnessed on the Prince of Wales Road after a boozy night out. For both sides it was petty and a little tragic. For a bloke who had been at pains to make clear he ‘wasn’t bothered’ by the reaction he gets from Norwich fans, Paul Lambert did a poor job of demonstrating that nonchalance on the touchline.

Like a jilted lover, City fans had reason to feel aggrieved when we separated with the man who brought joy to our lives for three years. Our ‘messiah’ walked out when a ‘better-looking’ option presented itself. That more attractive partner was Aston Villa. I remember when he first came with the Villans to Carrow Road. In the build-up to the game fans chewed over how to react to Paul Lambert. A few booed, others cheered. I quietly clapped. I was, and still I am, thankful for the wonderful memories he gave us. Three fantastic years had reignited my faith that my football club could achieve something special. I remain thankful and the fact he’s in charge of our rivals changes nothing.

Maybe, like me, you felt bemused at this contrived toxic relationship between Paul Lambert and us Norwich 
fans that he appeared to be stoking. I honestly have never felt any of the animosity he talked of. Not even when he was unveiled as the new boss at Portman Road! Yes, it was irritating, but only because I really rate him. I’m baffled, and a little delighted, that he’s done so poorly with our friends down the A140.

Listening to Paul Lambert’s pre-match interviews I was disappointed to hear his view of the Norwich fans. He claimed we’ve got ‘short memories’ and ‘give him a hostile welcome’ whenever he returns. A total fabrication. But what can be gained from uttering these comments? Paul is absolutely brilliant at saying what his audience needs to hear. His primary audience now is Blues fans. I would suggest this faux animosity was contrived to appease our friends in Suffolk, who still can’t quite get over that the only really successful period of the Scot’s management career propelled their fiercest rivals up to the promised land.

This excellent attribute, making you believe in his and his team’s ability, was the bedrock of our adoration for the man. What we now see as hot air was once our breath of fresh air. But sometimes, when moving on from a relationship, you see the sweet talk was full of hollow sentiment. I’m not saying that’s entirely true of Paul Lambert, but how can the Ipswich fans really believe it when he appears to dismiss his time as Carrow Road like it’s just a line on his CV... it is his CV! His track record at Norwich is his major selling point.

Using our experience with relationships as an analogy – we feel smug. He moved on but now we are actually in a better position. We don’t miss him. In fact, we much prefer Mr Farke’s cool persona. Right now, he feels like a better choice. So... it is absolutely OK to enjoy Ipswich’s demise. After all, they loved it when we went down. But let’s not pretend we don’t still hold a little torch for Paul. For some it might feel like your beloved has waltzed off with the next door neighbour, but football is a fickle game with little loyalty.

I respect Paul. I hope in future he offers a little more respect towards our amazing fans.

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