Has Jim fixed it for City?
CHRIS LAKEY Simon Lappin believes the Canaries are reaping the rewards of Peter Grant's decision to make a raid over the border - to bring in Jim Duffy as his assistant manager.
Simon Lappin believes the Canaries are reaping the rewards of Peter Grant's decision to make a raid over the border - to bring in Jim Duffy as his assistant manager.
The midfielder arrived at Carrow Road at the end of the January transfer window - and 10 days later Grant headed to his native Scotland again to bring Duffy to Norfolk as his number two.
Since his arrival there has been a gradual improvement in performances - consecutive 1-0 wins helping to steer City away from the Championship drop zone - and Lappin is convinced it is no coincidence.
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“He's been about a while and he knows what it's all about,” said the 24-year-old, who points to one of Duffy's star pupils as evidence.
“He was a top class defender for a number of years and he was at Chelsea and had guys like John Terry under him - and you can see how he has brought his game on as well.
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“You can't help but learn from a guy like that, he's got so much experience. Everybody's loving working under the manager and Jim's guidance on the defensive side of things as well.”
Lappin might just find his own defensive skills under Duffy's scrutiny today when City go to Colchester with a major doubt over left-back Adam Drury. Should the City skipper not make it, Lappin is likely to be asked to drop back from his midfield role to cover.
“I will play anywhere the manager sees fit to play me, I'm not too fussed,” said the former St Mirren player. “I have played there before on a number of occasions and if I am asked to do a job there then it won't be a problem, I'll just get on with it.
“It's good to have the flexibility in the squad just in case someone gets injured or is out for another reason, you have somebody to fill in in a certain position - but I am happy to play anywhere the manger wants me to.”
Lappin's cultured left foot has brought a new dimension to City's set-piece routines, which were in danger of becoming a standing joke because of their lack of productivity.
Now, City can look to either Youssef Safri's right-foot blaster, or the Lappin alternative, which was evident when it clinched all three points in the final minute at Luton last month.
“It keeps the defence and the goalkeeper guessing,” said Lappin. “The guys in the team have the ability to do it from different sides of the box, wherever it falls we have guys who can put it on target.
“Myself and Youssef and Mark Fotheringham we stay behind after training and work on it and it proved that night at Luton that practice makes perfect and as long as you keep working harder that you maybe get the breaks.
“It's only been the once so I'm just hoping there is another one coming soon.”
Lappin had one goal to his name for St Mirren this season before heading south, while he hit the back of the net five times last season - none from dead-ball situations.
“There is room for improvement there,” he admitted. “I don't set myself any targets because you disappoint yourself if you don't reach them, but I want to be on the scoresheet more than once, I can assure you of that.”
Layer Road this afternoon would be a perfect setting to add to his tally, but Lappin knows it will be tough.
“It would be great, but it's a very difficult one going to Colchester,” he said. “They have had a great season so far and they'll be looking to finish it on a high as well.
“There are no easy games in the league at all, it will be another difficult one for us and we need to approach it in the right manner and the same way as every game - especially the last couple.”
“We need to be more consistent - that is the key word.”