‘Dog eat dog business’ leaves Norwich City with no room for Paul Lambert sentimentality, vows Jonny Howson

Jonny Howson applauds the Norwich City fans after their late defeat at Arsenal last month. Picture:

Jonny Howson applauds the Norwich City fans after their late defeat at Arsenal last month. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Jonny Howson admits Norwich City have to look after number one when former boss Paul Lambert brings Aston Villa to Carrow Road on Saturday.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert, who will return to Carrow Road on Saturday to face the team he too

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert, who will return to Carrow Road on Saturday to face the team he took from the depths of League One to the Premier League. - Credit: PA

Jonny Howson admits Norwich City have to look after number one when former boss Paul Lambert brings Aston Villa to Carrow Road on Saturday.

Three years of meteoric rise under Lambert will be pushed to the back of the minds of City fans and players, as the Scot makes his second visit since walking out last summer on the club he took from League One to Premier League survival.

His first return was a painful one for City, seeing Villa reach the League Cup semi-finals at the Canaries' expense.

But this time around, the stakes are even higher as both sides push to retain their Premier League status.


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'It's dog eat dog in this business and sometimes you've got to look after yourself,' said Howson, brought in at Carrow Road by Lambert in January 2012. 'I'm not too sure there is more pressure on Villa – I can only answer from our position and obviously it's a better one.

'It's another game of football and nothing is going to be decided on that game. There are still points to play for after it.

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'I think when you are at this stage of the season, you just prepare and go into every game like you would whatever stage of the season it is. And if you give it your best shot and you succeed, then great – and if not, at least you can say we've done everything right.

'I don't think it makes a difference to the atmosphere if Paul Lambert is coming back or not. The Reading game the other week was great and there was no ex-manager coming back then. So if we can come out of the blocks early like we did against Reading, get the crowd on the edge of their seats, I'm sure it'll be an entertaining game.'

Howson played in a changed line-up that succumbed to Villa in December – although revenge is unlikely to be a theme come Saturday. Neither is it a surprise Villa have found themselves in such a difficult position this season, as their youthful side continues scrapping to avoid relegation.

'The League Cup game was obviously disappointing, at that stage,' added Howson.

'On the night I think the scoreline maybe flattered them, although they probably did deserve to go through. But you never look at games like that, as scores to settle. You just prepare for every game right, looking for three points.

'If you look at the Premier League and the last 10 years or so, you look at the size of the clubs that have gone down – it never surprises you.

'Even looking at the likes of Newcastle and Sunderland this season, they're big clubs and they are down there.

'So that doesn't count for anything these days, the size of the club in terms of where they should be. You can even mention teams in the Championship and the size of some of those clubs.

'I've been at Leeds so I know all about that, and arguably Leeds were the first ones to trigger that off. So no club is too big to go down.'

Given City's evolution of style under Lambert's successor Chris Hughton, comparisons will be hard to avoid as in-form Villa arrive at Carrow Road off the back of their stunning 6-1 thrashing of Sunderland on Monday night.

'When a new manager comes in and there are a few new players who have come in, the manager at this minute has got a different strategy – but you could say that with all managers,' added the 24-year-old.

'They have all got their own ideas and their own plans of how they like to play, and you have got to adapt to that.

'I think if we stay in the league then it's job done. No disrespect but for the past two seasons, that's been the objective. I came in halfway through last season, and it was the objective then, and it's still the same.

'And if we do that again, then the achievement has been complete.'

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