Norwich City boss Lambert’s challenge for players to start another run
AUDIO: Paul Lambert shook off the disappointment of a rare away defeat to lay down a new and simple challenge to his players – go and start another run.
The Canaries' defeat at Burnley ended an eight-game unbeaten run and was the first reverse away from Carrow Road since they were beaten 3-1 at Cardiff at the end of October – three wins and four draws ago.
Defeat dropped City down a place to third and Cardiff's win over Swansea saw them fall another place to fourth as the top end of the Championship table was squeezed even further by the weekend results.
But Lambert insists all will be fine with his team, who came from a goal down during a second half when they laid siege to the home goal, only to be undone by a late Burnley winner when Jay Rodriguez scored after a controversial free-kick.
'I thought the way we played, especially second half, I thought we were relentless,' said Lambert. 'There have been times this season when we've been beaten when I thought we never deserved it, and I thought that was one of them. The only game where we really deserved to get beat was probably Doncaster away, so performance-wise I thought second half very, very good.
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'In the second half there was only one team in it – but at the end of the day you get beat. So you pick yourself up and go again.
'We hemmed them in. They couldn't get out – that's a team that has just come down, with big resources, but we have come here and showed how good a team we are. When we are playing like that we are a really good side, very good. We are right in the mix, we are right in it – we will be alright, we will be fine. Burnley have just come down from the Premier League, so nothing is going to hit them in the face and make them think it's different. You expect them to be strong, they have a vibrant crowd and we have just come up from League One.'
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City threw everything at Burnley in an effort to get a winner, but it may have proved their undoing.
'I thought we were on the ascendancy,' he said. 'Burnley took off a striker and tried to match us and if anything we probably played too attacking, but that's the way we play at times and you pick yourself up and go again.
'It's remarkable what the lads have done. As I just said to them in there, disappointed to lose the game in the manner in which we did because Burnley, especially second half, just couldn't get out. The set piece was especially disappointing. But performance wise there is not one thing to be worried about.'
Lambert changed his system, starting with three at the back, but abandoned it for the second period.
'We just thought the three of them would be really strong, which they are,' he explained. 'I just thought we lacked maybe a bit attacking impetus and that's why we changed it second half.
'It's difficult, it's new on them. There were certain aspects that were good, some not. That's my own fault, it's not the lads, it's my own fault for whatever team I pick and my prerogative to play. It took us a bit to get into the game but even losing the goal it never really put us on the back foot because I know what I'm going to get at half-time, I know the reaction I will get.'
As seems to be the norm, the match officials played their part.
The first major incident involved City left-back Adam Drury, who was perhaps fortunate to see only a yellow card after an over-the-top tackle on Tyrone Mears.
'I have to see that again,' said Lambert. 'It looked a strong challenge.'
Incident number two came in the build-up to Burnley's opener, when Simeon Jackson was barged over by Mears deep into Burnley territory, enabling the Clarets to build the break which led to Dean Marney scoring.
'It's a free-kick,' said Lambert. 'It's crystal. I've seen it – he pushed him.'
There was also an element of doubt about the winner, with skipper Grant Holt punished for bringing down Mears as he made strides down the right flank – it looked more like a brush of the shoulders, but referee Phil Gibbs was insistent, and Rodriguez got the better of Aaron Wilbraham at the far post to convert Danny Fox's kick.
'I don't think he did anything, but you still have to defend your cross better,' said Lambert. 'The ball has travelled a long ways, so if you have got a man you pick them up.
'I think we were a bit too open, probably the way we were playing the game – we kept on trying to get the goal but it's just too open for us. We're away from home – as I said before, if you can't win it make sure you don't lose it.'
There was nothing controversial about Holt's equaliser, the City skipper twisting on the edge of the area to make contact with Wes Hoolahan's excellent pass.
'A terrific goal and a terrific ball by Wes as well,' said Lambert. 'But I am sure Grant will be the first to say if you score and win it's a lot more pleasing, but when you score and get beat it becomes a lot more difficult.'
Holt took his chances, but others went begging, with sub Chris Martin denied either by keeper Lee Grant or a deflection.'