Lambert seals a sweet success

Chris LakeyPaul Lambert says he believes Norwich City fans enjoyed a footballing "closure" after engineering a hugely profitable return from his first journey back to deepest Essex.Chris Lakey

Paul Lambert says he believes Norwich City fans enjoyed a footballing "closure" after engineering a hugely profitable return from his first journey back to deepest Essex.

Having engineered Colchester's 7-1 win at Carrow Road on the opening day, Lambert turned the tables on his old club on emphatic fashion - and finally exorcised a few ghosts for City fans.

Did Saturday's win make up for that awful opening day?

"Yes," said Lambert.

"You feel it. There is no doubt when you are standing there and you can do nothing about it, and especially the crowd at Carrow Road where there's 25, 000 or 26,000 people coming - you feel it, so I'm pretty sure that was sweet for them.

"They have been exceptional with me and I know how quickly that can change.

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"That can change within about two and a half seconds if we don't get a goal, so I never actually think this is going to last for ever.

"We will do our utmost to get this club up, but at this minute in time we have given them something back when they were hurt."

Like it or not, Lambert was clearly the focus of attention: City's 1,900-strong travelling army cheered his every move, Colchester fans did the opposite.

But eight years as Celtic in the maelstrom that is Glasgow football have hardened him against the best that Essex could produce.

"I know what it's like because I used to play up in Glasgow as everybody knows and half the city like you and half the city just don't, so it wasn't about me, it didn't bother me," he insisted.

"If I was doing that bad here why still go on about it after seven months? If I was that bad why is it still going on?"

While the soap opera may have been furthest from his mind, it may not have been the same for those players who featured in both games against Colchester this season, like centre-backs Gary Doherty and Michael Nelson, who were as good on Saturday as they were poor on August 8.

"I got asked did I ever think it was going to be a significant part and it wasn't," said Lambert.

"The lads at Norwich, they got beat heavily at the beginning of the season and I'm pretty sure for some of them it'd be at the back of their minds, but I never ever mentioned it really, to be perfectly honest.

"We came here to try and win another three points, which we have done.

"The lads were brilliant, considering everything that was going on and all the things that were being said, the Colchester crowd's reaction. I thought the lads kept their heads, they kept the game going and we were worthy winners."

Two excellent goals by Chris Martin gave City the upper hand at the break - and then they went to town, with Gary Doherty, Oli Johnson and Grant Holt rounding off the biggest away win since December 29, 2001, when City won 5-0 at Sheffield Wednesday.

Wes Hoolahan missed a penalty - but Lambert revealed there had been some concerns about the midfielder's fitness in the week leading up to the game.

"He has had a virus this week," Lambert said.

"He wasn't feeling well on Thursday and it was a big, big call for him to train yesterday. And he did ,and I thought some of his football at times was excellent."

City had to combat a sticky pitch which prompted some long and careful looks by referee Mike Dean before the game.

"I was a bit concerned because of the footballers we have got in the team," said Lambert.

"It's alright me saying they have actually got to go and do it, but the lads have had to change their game to certain conditions. I thought some of the football we played in really bad conditions was exceptional.

"They were lethal. Chrissy Martin - what a terrific finisher he is of a football.

"Grant does what Grant does best, which is being brilliant for me, and Oli coming on - and Oli is starting to become a cult hero with that crowd, and he's only played about 15 minutes."

And then there's Doherty, a player who looked to be heading out of Carrow Road last September and for whom the goal must have gone a long way towards some closure of his own.

"He has been brilliant," said Lambert. "I just said it to him and for somebody I left out of the side - and I need my head read the way he's playing at the minute - it just shows you, he's come back really, really strongly and you have got to give credit where it's due.

"Him and Hoolahan - everybody knows I did leave them out - have been absolutely colossal for me.

"It just shows you what I know about the game.

"I had to make changes just to give some of the lads a chance, but he has been outstanding.

"He (Doherty) is incredible, you just think he's going to score every time he's up there."