Holt and Lansbury lead Lambert’s cast of heroes
Paul Lambert proved himself the master of the understatement as he was asked to dissect a famous derby day victory.'We did fine,' said the City boss.
It was one of those slightly tense moments when you wonder whether the manager has entered the press room with a bone to pick with someone. Fortunately, he soon warmed to the task.
'Brilliant. They were first class,' he said, before revealing the most simple of secrets for such a resounding and memorable victory.
'Good players. It's not rocket science. I've got some really good players. I've got lads with a great desire to win football games and they're the ones that go and play the game.'
Among the great and the good, special mention goes to a couple of players who couldn't be more different.
Grant Holt's hat-trick clearly puts him on a higher plain in the overall picture, but new boy Henri Lansbury, who is almost a decade his junior and actually has more Championship appearances under his belt, won't forget his first taste of Norfolk life in a hurry.
Their paths to derby glory couldn't be more different: Lansbury is from the school of excellence that is Arsenal school, while Holt came to Norwich from League Two Shrewsbury Town. If one is going to be compared to Lionel Messi, it's going to be Lansbury, but football teams need a Grant Holt.
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Even Lambert admits he wondered why his skipper took a step down to come two steps back up, but when he was asked about the big man's performance, the smile finally appeared on his face.
'I'm not going to praise him – because all I see is his face on a bus,' he laughed. 'That's what I see when I'm in Norwich, his face on a bus.'
That's because he is in the realms of legendary status among Norwich fans, who will agree with Lambert's assessment of his heroics.
'I thought he was unplayable, I really did, I thought he was terrific,' he said. 'I think I said before, no disrespect to Grant but I don't think he is going to be a lad with great finesse, but when he plays as a typical old-fashioned number nine he is absolutely brilliant, getting hold of the ball and leading the line and taking the hit – it's paramount to the way we play.
'I thought him and Chrissy (Martin) were a handful right from the off and when those two play the way they do then we've got a chance.'
Holt is one of the few survivors of the Bryan Gunn era – one who, Lambert admits, deserved his chance of another crack at the Championship after fleeting appearances with Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool.
Whether he could cut it at Championship level was a big question – perhaps he answered it yesterday.
'You're never quite sure when they go up a level,' admitted Lambert. 'They deserved the opportunity to go and do it for what they have done, being up there. Going from the Championship I always thought it was a bizarre thing going to League Two with Shrewsbury. I thought 'why did he go that far down?'. And then all of a sudden you get the opportunity to go again and to be fair he has grasped that - but you have to keep performing to that level.'
Holt's first goal was all his own making, but it was a precision pass from Lansbury which set up the second – and it was a beauty.
'I thought you could tell why he's at the club he's at,' said Lambert. 'I thought his pass for the second goal was reminiscent of Messi the way he threaded that through. I thought after 15 minutes he got a grip of the game. He got the occasion. Without putting too much pressure on the kid, he'll be a top player.'
City's cause was helped by the first-half dismissal of Damien Delaney for hauling back Holt as he looked to have broken free for a clear, albeit long distance, run on goal.
'If you are going by the letter of the law then it might be red, but he (Holt) has still got a lot of work to do,' said Lambert. 'Other lads might have caught him. I don't know, but sometimes it is harder to pay against 10 men than when it is 11.'
Ipswich's defence was nervous all afternoon – which is part of the reason Holt made hay.
Whether it was their sloppy work, or City's good work was debatable.
'From my point of view when you look at it, our lads did brilliant harassing people and not letting people settle on the ball but you have still got to stick it in the net, you still have to score, which is one of the hardest things to do.'
Lambert – serving game one of a two-game touchline ban – watched it all from a seat in the directors' box.
Not the best place, he admitted, but what he saw was the end to a run of four draws and a climb to fifth place in the table.
The draws were frustrating.
'But it's great not being beaten,' he said. 'If you can't win a game make sure you don't get beat. We went away to hard places, we sometimes had a lot of lads injured and lads playing in different positions and still didn't get beat, but I always thought we were playing well. Never once did I think we were struggling.'
It was Lambert's first derby in charge: the verdict was inevitable.
'They are brilliant – it doesn't matter what derby you play in,' he said. 'They are vital for the Norwich fans, as they would be for the Ipswich fans, because you have that few months period where you can mock your mate or whatever you want to do. You always have it until the next one comes in.
'It was great for the Norwich fans and I am delighted for them because they have had a rough ride at times.'
It's a smoother passage nowadays – to fifth in the table to be exact, but Lambert finished as he'd started – and he'll find few City fans arguing with him.
'I'm just trying to keep my head above the water,' he said. 'Never take anything for granted, but we have done okay.'