Celtic boss Lennon praises Norwich City’s ‘miracle worker’

Paul Lambert's former Celtic ally Neil Lennon has labelled Norwich's Premier League ascent as 'remarkable'.

Lennon agreed with Lambert's own assessment just minutes after clinching promotion on the pitch at Fratton Park earlier this week that City's rise from League One to the top flight within two seasons was a 'miracle'.

'He's worked a miracle at Norwich on limited resources,' said Lennon. 'They are a provincial club, with a great fanbase. But what he's achieved since taking over there is nothing short of remarkable. He's done it the hard way because he didn't have a great time as manager of Livingston. But he went and did his apprenticeship at Wycombe then Colchester.

'Since he's taken over Norwich they have been a real force in League One and the Championship. They've got a great spirit and work ethic. Paul had a great career as a player but as a manager to get out of that Championship, some managers don't do that in their lifetime.'

The Celtic manager admits former Hoops' boss Martin O'Neil has been a major influence over the duo's rise through the coaching ranks – but despite the obvious touchline comparisons insists Lambert remains very much is own man.

'I'm not sure if he's done that by design but it just shows the influence Martin had on a lot of us, not just me and Paul,' said Lennon, who along with Lambert won multiple honours under O'Neil at Parkhead and reached the Uefa Cup final in 2003. 'I'm sure if other guys from that Seville team of 2003 decide to go into management Martin's a template for us all. Paul's had great success. There's no doubt the majority of the way he approaches football and the ideas he uses will have come from Martin.'

Lennon's bid to emulate Lambert's latest success south of the border suffered a setback when they lost 3-2 at Inverness on Wednesday to gift Rangers the initiative in the SPL title race.

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'Seeing Paul achieve what he has doesn't make me more determined to win something. I'm pretty self-motivated and determined anyway,' he said. 'Paul's achievements are not relevant to mine. It's just a really good friend of mine doing brilliantly.'

Lennon hopes Lambert gets the financial support to build on his knack of scouring the lower leagues for gems.

'Look at what he's done with Grant Holt who was with me at Nottingham Forest,' he said. 'He was rough round the edges but Paul's turned him into a scoring machine. He's brought in Simeon Jackson from Gillingham and Russell Martin from Peterborough who he also had at Wycombe. Paul knows these players and what they did for him before. He's taken them to a new level, similar to what Martin did at Leicester. It's a tough task for Paul in the Premier League and he'll need a bit of financial backing. The top flight has evolved into this monster of a league and it's now very difficult. If Paul finishes fourth from bottom it'll be a magnificent achievement.'