Lambert makes sure Norwich City are leading close-season transfer table

Should Norwich City's start to life in the Premier League emulate Paul Lambert's speed in the transfer market, City look set for a fruitful campaign.

Lambert has a New Year sales mentality to his football shopping sprees. Do your homework well in advance, get in the queue earlier than your competitors and strike before they have time to reach into their back pockets.

The Canaries already top their first table of the new campaign when it comes to the numbers signed up to the Premier League crusade. Three permanent deals and Ritchie de Laet on loan from the European Cup finalists and Premier League champions, no less.

Eight top flight clubs have yet to do any fresh business seven weeks after the old season finished. Another eight have contented themselves with just the solitary incoming transaction. Lambert is the exception to the footballing rule that dictates the professional game shuts down for a month or so once that final ball has been kicked.

The natural hiatus when players and managers head for the beaches and the five star hotels, a close season amnesty to let the dust settle before the madness begins again in earnest.


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Lambert remained largely at his desk – working in tandem with chief executive David McNally. Barely had those civic parade balloons floated back down to earth before City's hierarchy cut a swath through the endless transfer gossip column inches to unveil James Vaughan followed by Steve Morison.

The Welsh international is a perfect case in point. Morison has been going to Fulham, QPR and any other number of potential suitors since the last January transfer window – but it was Norwich who won the 'race'. Ditto Vaughan, ditto Elliott Bennett. Undisclosed fees they may be but safe to assume fractions of the �47m lavished on England U21 duo Jordan Henderson and Phil Jones plus Ashley Young by Liverpool and United respectively.

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Therein perhaps lies one of the reasons Norwich have been so quick off the mark.

The earlier you do your business, the less potentially inflationary pressure Lambert and his fellow bosses must factor into their summer spending.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis sounded a warning earlier this week regarding the detrimental effects of the big boys' recent multi-million pound plunge. Pulis is a voice worth listening to as he prepares the Potters for a fourth consecutive top flight campaign.

'It's going to be an active market and an expensive market this year,' he said. 'The top six clubs are all looking to spend. That always filters through.

'Sunderland have sold big, Blackburn have sold big and there will be other clubs who will have a little bit of money in their pockets to go out and buy players. I expect it to be a very difficult market but a market where there will be a lot of movement.'

Spurs' chief Harry Redknapp claimed Jones could have had his pick of any of the top four. A product of the ever-diminishing talent pool which forces competing rivals to chase the same players. Save Vaughan's arrival from Merseyside, Lambert has side-stepped the Premier League market. The Scot prefers to identify precocious lower league talent he can mould rather than buy off-the-shelf commodities. Hence why the character of his new arrivals is constantly highlighted - they need to have a collective sense of unity, to fit inside his harmonious, tight-knit group. Another reason for early purchases. Lambert actively wants to foster that sense of 'us-against-the-world' fighting spirit that has typified Norwich's rapid rise by getting fresh bodies into the building as soon as.

Expect the bulk of Norwich's business to have been completed by the time they head to their pre-season German training camp. It worked last year. Norwich headed across the Rhine with six new signings before completing a seventh deal for Simeon Jackson whilst there. Premier League they may now be, but no need to change a winning formula.

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