Lambert: I can’t pluck money out of thin air

Paul Lambert believes he could be suffering the repercussions of previous managerial regimes' spending policies as he tries to piece together a Championship squad on a budget that leaves little room for manoeuvre.

The Canaries boss has seen his squad hit by a succession of injuries and admits he may need to scout around for new players – but it will be bargain basement shopping, with Lambert refusing to put the club further into hock.

'It is something we have to maybe look at, but the finances dictate it,' he said.

'I don't have the major resources to go and do it. Everybody knows the situation on the finance side and you can only work with what you have got. I can't pluck money from thin air, we just can't do it. Winning covers a multitude of sins and that's what happens when you keep on winning - people think it must be a breeze, but it's not because I just can't physically go and make money appear from a tree, it's impossible.'

When Lambert arrived at Carrow Road last August he followed in a new-look board of directors, with chief executive David McNally charged with ensuring the club got back on to something approaching a financial even keel, which has meant trying to make inroads into a debt which now stands at �23m.

McNally and Lambert appear to be picking up the pieces.

'I am probably getting it from two or three seasons ago,' said Lambert. 'But I don't think the club will ever go in that position again. But people have got to realise we can't do it.

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'I realise. I am not naive enough not realise there is nothing there.'

Delia Smith, husband Michael Wynn Jones and deputy chairman Michael Foulger have all dipped into their pockets to helped fund signings, but today's visit of Middlesbrough, who banked parachute payments of �16m for this season, does highlight what they are up against.

'There might be a bit there, but we won't be able to compete with your bigger ones,' said Lambert. 'I keep hearing people saying we should be up there and all that, but look at the size of some of these clubs and the money that's been spent.

'I heard, whether it's true or not, Middlesbrough have spent over �11m in a year. We've spent 11 pence.

'Cardiff can go and get Craig Bellamy, there's QPR – there are loads of teams up there that are miles ahead on the budget side.'

Those are the facts – but Lambert has been consistent in his refusal to allow the financial issue become an excuse. Instead, he's spent wisely –summer arrivals Andrew Crofts and Elliott Ward are two who stand out as quality purchases.

'I am never going to turn round and moan,' he said. 'I also know the club has come an awful long way in the time that we have been here.'

Perhaps the financial constraints do make City's current fifth-place position even more creditable.

'It's a miracle, yes,' said Lambert. 'The lads deserve every bit of credit that has gone their way. It's funny when you do get beat and people are disappointed – that's how far you know you have come.

'They are coming to the stadium expecting us to win, which is great, you'd rather have that than not, but I can also sense people's disappointment when we get beat, but that shows how far we have come and we just go again tomorrow and try and win.'

Middlesbrough parted company with manager Gordon Strachan earlier this week, the Scot proving just as much as Lambert the adage that money doesn't guarantee success.

'It certainly helps, there is no doubt, not just in the playing side, but it helps when you want to try and do things. Money doesn't always guarantee anything, but they have some really good players and it will be a hard game.

'Everybody knows they were going to be one of the favourites to go up. Things happen, they don't get the results and the manager goes and somebody comes in and players lift their game for whatever reason, which is wrong. Because the same group of players are the ones that were already there and Gordon was there and if you pick up why couldn't you do that when the manager was there? That's the disappointing thing.'

The fact that Boro are fourth from the bottom of the table rings alarm bells at Carrow Road, where City have struggled against lower-placed teams.

Leicester were unlucky to be on the end of a 4-3 defeat, but Hull and, on Tuesday, Crystal Palace, both left Norfolk with all three points.

Three wins and three defeats at home doesn't compare favourably with three wins two draws and a defeat away.

'We seem to be doing things the other way round so if you can do it the other way around I'll take it,' said Lambert. 'We are only a point off third which is remarkable.'