Paddy Davitt verdict: Paul Lambert is one of the few things Norwich City and Ipswich Town have in common
PUBLISHED: 13:00 28 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:06 29 October 2018
The build-up was dominated by the past. But we got another glimpse into the tantalising future at Norwich City.
Paul Lambert rightly deserves his place in the Canaries’ modern timeline.
Pitching up at Ipswich Town underlines how far his star has fallen since those heady days, and an intoxicating ride that travelled at blinding speed from League One to the Premier League.
Daniel Farke warmly wished Matty Gill the very best, after his decision to vacate a position at the sharp end of City’s academy and follow Lambert across the border. There were also kind post-match words for Lambert’s legacy in these parts and his standing in Germany from a spell at Farke’s former club, Borussia Dortmund.
Then the man who has inherited Lambert’s mantle at Norwich City returned to savouring Emi Buendia’s masterpiece, a third win in a week and the yawning chasm to the lowly Blues in the Championship standings.
Lambert’s presence in the vicinity now ensures February’s derby meeting will never stray far from the consciousness, but both clubs have their own agendas before then.
We saw another face to Farke’s squad against a Brentford side who belied their dire form since Dean Smith’s departure.
Norwich found a way to prevail after slipping behind to Nottingham Forest and Smith’s Aston Villa.
Against the Bees they had to find a way to cling on to a slender lead, after Jordan Rhodes’ again fluffed his lines from the penalty spot.
Such insurance may have alleviated the anxiety levels in the second period but, in truth, apart from Neal Maupay’s close range gaffe following Tim Krul’s initial double save, the Dutchman was well-protected.
Timm Klose and Christoph Zimmermann appear to have an almost telepathic understanding that begs the question if they remain so resolute how does Grant Hanley return to the ranks when fit? One for Farke.
The same as the dilemma he may have at the sharp end should Rhodes and Teemu Pukki continue to trade goals. Those are the kind of problems Lambert would love as Ipswich list at the bottom.
It is not simply the depth of resource but also the variety to Norwich’s play.
Rhodes’s predatory instincts finished a flowing 18-pass move to seal the win over Villa a few days earlier. Here, Buendia darted inside his full-back before cushioning Klose’s raking long range pass beyond Daniel Bentley on the volley.
One run, one pass but the same devastating outcome.
Farke has already publicly told his squad to embrace the soaring expectation and the lofty heights they are now scaling. Real pressure is what Lambert and his new players are under, to survive for an 18th season of Championship football.
Norwich may struggle to maintain their current perch as better-resourced clubs bolster promotion pushes in January. But irrespective of how this campaign pans out from this point, there is genuine forward momentum.
You can sense it on the pitch and now hear it increasingly off it.
Carrow Road has been raucous and fully supportive during this upturn, in the manner the place used to rock as Lambert drove his troops on manically from the home technical area.
Farke is a smoother operator but no less passionate and on the growing body of evidence capable of sustaining a formula which is proving robust and residually effective.
Just as he cautioned with regard to Buendia - prior to victory over Brentford - when discussing areas for improvement in the midfielder’s game, it would do wonders for the heart rate to see Norwich coast to the finish line rather than have to break the tape with a desperate lunge.
Todd Cantwell dragged a late shot at Bentley, after Moritz Leitner had rolled him in, but this win was forged from City’s cohesion without the ball.
These are delicious extras that should come with positive results and genuine consistency.
One of Lambert’s favourite mantras, during City’s glorious ascent, was a simple maxim it was all about the players and all about the fans.
Until it became all about him and his desire for self-improvement, by swapping the stability of Carrow Road for the rollercoaster that was Aston Villa.
The fascination now is whether he still has the magic wand or whether Norwich was as good as it got.
But that is all it should be from here for anyone peering over the fence from this side.
City have moved on and how far they can go this season under Farke must remain the primary focus.