Nothing will distract Norwich City from big job
The last time Norwich City ran out for a Friday night game, the damage had already been done.
It was the first game of the new season, and even a dreadful World Cup hadn't taken away our appetite for the beautiful game. After a day of wall-to-wall TV coverage by football's paymasters, City were beaten at home by Watford.
Watford left Carrow Road with the points after a 3-2 win – but City have hardly looked back since.
Never again, says manager Paul Lambert, will he allow eyes to be taken off the ball in such a way.
'That was my fault,' he said. 'I should have stopped it. People make decisions and, no disrespect to Sky and BBC whatever the case may be, but everybody and their granny was doing an interview.
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'People in the club shop were saying how much the teddy bears were getting sold for. It was my fault. We are here to play football, we are here to try and win a game and we get turned over. That will never happen again, not as long as I'm here.'
When City run out alongside Billy Davies' Nottingham Forest side, the preparations will have been perfectly normal. The presence of the TV cameras matters not a jot: City are slap bang in the middle of a thrilling, and unexpected, promotion challenge, and Lambert wants to stay there.
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'Nothing changes,' he said. 'That is my view – nothing changes. We've been through this before, it is not new to some of the lads who did it last year.
'Some of the lads may be new to it, but the feeling of winning is great. It's when you get beat by Swansea it is like a double hit because not many of them have experienced getting beat for so long. The important thing was not to get beat in the next one and go and try and win your next one and they did it again really, albeit it's a draw, but the point could be huge.
'The lads know their job, I don't think it's a hobby for them any more, it's a job, but we have to go and try and win as many games as we can and thankfully we have done alright.'
Lambert pits his wits against a familiar foe tonight: former St Mirren and Motherwell team-mate Billy Davies. He knows manager and club well.
'A top manager – he's been through it before,' he said. 'I know him really well due to playing with him a number of years. I know what he's like and Forest being in the position they were last year have been in this position before. It's a huge club, great tradition.
'I was lucky enough to work under two men (Martin O'Neill and John Robertson) who actually put that club on the map so I know the value of Nottingham Forest, I know the traditions of it and what they have achieved and that will never be done again, two European Cups back to back from a provincial club. It is a club that is stoked in tradition.'
'We had a laugh and all that sort of thing – a very good footballer when he played and he has taken that on.
'Everywhere he has been he seems to have done well so I am under no illusions how hard it will be.
'I think it's going to be a cracking game – we had a cracking game with them up there, 1-1, and if we win it can hurt them so we try and win.
'We are loving it, that's for sure. We are loving it, the lads are thriving on it and we will do everything we can.'