Norwich City are not on a Premier League revenge mission at Fulham

Paul Lambert may not carry the mental scars of Fulham 2005 – but the Norwich City boss is acutely aware of the historical importance fans attach to such defining moments.

Lambert insists this afternoon's first return to Craven Cottage since the Canaries tamely lost their battle for Premier League survival is not about laying to rest ghosts for him or his players.

An estimated 5,000 travelling supporters may be less willing to forgive and forget what happened on a nightmare day in west London seven years ago.

Lambert yesterday chose to dwell on another May milestone from his own past that may come sharply into focus this weekend if former club Celtic beat St Johnstone and Rangers falter at Motherwell to lift the Scottish Premier League title.

Lambert was part of a Bhoys' line-up that beat St Johnstone back in 1998 to end their bitter Old Firm rivals' bid for an unprecedented ten league titles in a row, after the men from Ibrox had equalled the previous winning streak of Jock Stein's Lisbon Lions.


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Lambert pays due deference to the lessons of history – but he prefers to live in the present.

'I know some fans will have been at the game (in 2005). The same ones will have been at Charlton, when they got relegated before we came in, in League One,' he said. 'I'm sure it was the same fans who then watched the team get promoted. For me and the team, if you are telling me there is only Adam Drury left from it, there is no point me worrying about six or seven years ago.

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'It is nothing to do with me so I don't really see why I should bother to worry about it. We'll go, try and win a game and if the crowd keep behind us – and I know we'll take a huge following – we can do that. I don't look back six years of my life and think about what happened there.'

Which is not to downplay Lambert's own personal experience in club-defining matches.

'The St Johnstone game was probably the most tense game I have ever been involved in,' he said. 'I think Rangers were up at Tannadice that day and you tend to get a vibe from the Celtic crowd how things are going and there wasn't a roar coming from them so you thought Rangers were winning. I think in our game Henrik (Larsson) scored early on and then Harold (Brattbakk) got the second goal.

'It was brilliant. There was a lot of history attached to it with the ten-in-a-row thing. The team that Wim (Jansen) built in one year did unbelievable. For the Celtic fans, it stopped that history because I am pretty sure Rangers would have still been making DVDs at this minute to celebrate ten-in-a-row.

'I was delighted because that was the toughest league to win with what was at stake and trying to preserve Celtic's nine-in-a-row with Jock Stein. Lenny (Neil Lennon) has done a magnificent job. It is a tough club to manage, there is no doubt, with the fan base and the expectancy. In the games I have seen they have been the best team by a country mile. If it's not this weekend, it will be the following one.'

Events south of the border are of more pressing concern to Lambert and ensuring Fulham do not end their current losing run.

Lambert saw plenty in the Cottagers' battling midweek defeat at Manchester United to suggest that corner is close to being turned.

'It didn't look to me like their confidence had been dented from watching the game and looking at how well they played up there,' he said. 'I don't think they will be too down. Swansea went there and beat them but it is still a really tough place to go. Fulham, look at the squad, they have top players who have competed in Europe. Look how much they cost.

'Maybe they don't get the praise they deserve because they have a good manager and really, really top players in their team. You could say they didn't have much luck at United. I don't think it is luck because Man United have been doing that for years, winning 1-0, 1-0. I know they had the penalty claim, I know all that, but United are vying for the title, but I don't think they will play like that against us. I think they will come out and attack us so it will be a different game.'

Lambert and his coaching staff will be prepared if it is; judged by the unqualified success of last weekend's new look shape with Elliott Ward at the heart of a defensive three and the likes of Jonny Howson and Wes Hoolahan operating in tandem.

'I thought for a spell in that first half we were brilliant and the way we kept the ball. I think we have got footballers in the side and the way we passed it was excellent,' he said. 'It's a very attacking formation. We have some top footballers at the club and we try to utilise them as best we can in certain games.

'We felt that game, at home, the onus was on us to make the running. I think we have got a goal threat just about everywhere from midfield going forward. I think Howson has added to the goal threat.

'At times perhaps last Saturday we tried to look for the perfect goal, which isn't there, but I was really happy with how they played. It is alright playing brilliant football but then not having an end product. The game is about sticking the ball in the net. We are no different but I thought some of the moves and one-twos around the box were incredible.'

Lambert accepts City's commitment to attack can leave them vulnerable –illustrated by Hoolahan's spirit of adventure in the closing seconds against Wolves last weekend by trying to launch a late counter.

'What is he now? 28, 29. I wouldn't have thought you could change him,' said Lambert. 'I think he is an extremely talented footballer, but sometimes the old common sense isn't there with him at times. That is not a fault because he is a talented footballer. I just wouldn't expect to see him on Countdown, put it that way. You man-manage him the best you can.

'When I first came to the club he was slightly Easter-egg shaped, but we changed him on that. Whether you can change the common sense aspect, I am not so sure.'

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