Lambert - Norwich City have emerged from the doldrums
Paul Lambert insists Norwich City is a club ready for lift off after an estimated 40,000 supporters saluted the Canaries' Premier League heroes at last night's civic parade.
The architect-in-chief of Norwich's dual promotion success since his arrival in August 2009 admitted the latest achievement has yet to sink in following the return to English football's elite.
'We've take a club that everyone knows was in major trouble when we got here and brought it out of the doldrums,' he said. 'What we've done is give not only the football club a major boost but the city as well – and not just once but twice.
'This is a special night for these players because they have been brilliant since I walked in the door at this football club. Obviously one or two lads departed, which happens in football just as it does in everyday life, but the performance of those lads has been superb.
'I haven't had a chance really to stop and let it sink it. It has been non-stop since the Portsmouth game. Once I actually stop and think about it, maybe in the summer, it will sink in.
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'If myself, Gary (Karsa) and Ian (Culverhouse) actually sit down and think about what an achievement it is, then it's immense. It isn't me, it's the three of us, and we compliment each other so well and have done for the past six years. What they have done for this club should not be underestimated.'
Lambert pinpointed City's opening Championship win of the season at Scunthorpe – courtesy of player-of-the-year Grant Holt's late flying header – as a pivotal event in another stellar promotion campaign.
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'I don't know if there was a moment when you could turn around and say that was the game when I thought we might do it,' he said. 'It's funny, I was speaking to Ian about this the other day and we actually felt the away win at Scunthorpe was huge, coming after the defeat against Watford.
'That was a huge game for us and maybe a game that gave us the belief we could actually win games in the Championship. The Derby game of course was a big moment because of the way we won it in the last minute, but there were so many late goals - which is a tribute to the players' hunger and desire.'
Lambert's close season planning is already underway to compete with the establishment – but the Scot warned he will not be blowing huge holes in an estimated �40m Premier League war chest.
'You can't say those sort of things. That is not the way it works,' he said. 'People have to realise I don't just suddenly have �40m filling my desk. That is what everyone has to realise. It doesn't happen like that. We'll do what we can do in the market and I'll try my best to bring in players who give that current group a hand. I've had a brief chat with the board and I'm pretty sure I'll have one again to try and see what we are going to do.'
City and champions QPR will be joined in the top flight by the Championship play-off winners – an ordeal Lambert was relieved to avoid after edging out Cardiff, Swansea, Reading and Nottingham Forest for the second automatic spot.
'I have lost a play-off semi-final and I said at the time that is an experience I would never want to go through again,' he said. 'It isn't nice and thankfully from our own point of view we don't have to that, but make no mistake the four teams who are in there are top sides with a lot of backing behind them.
'Billy (Davies) is obviously a good friend of mine. We go back a long way. I like Brendan (Rodgers) as well, but I have a good relationship with all four managers. Really, it's great for me to sit back and see the best team emerge.'