Patience is a virtue fans need – Lambert
Paul Lambert has called on City fans to be patient this afternoon when the Canaries face bottom-of-the-table Preston.
The sound of booing from a minority of fans at the last home game – when City were held to a 1-1 draw by Doncaster Rovers – is clearly still audible to the City manager. Doncaster were on a run of four consecutive defeats, but managed to get their act together, stifle City and arrest the slide. It didn't go down well with some sections of the home support, who voiced their disapproval, leaving Lambert to remind them of how far City have come in the 19 months since he took charge.
If ever there was a match with similar ingredients, it's this one: Preston haven't won in the 10 games that Phil Brown has been in charge –and they are rock bottom of the Championship, five points adrift of the next club, Sheffield United, and 11 points behind Crystal Palace, who occupy the last 'safe' spot.
They are, says Lambert, fighting for their lives. And that's why he is expecting another tough afternoon at the office.
'It's massive, it is huge,' said Lambert 'Every bit as tough as any other game you are going to play. It is not an easy game – none are. None.
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'I think they are fighting for their lives to try and stay in and not be too detached from everybody. I think that's the thing Phil will be looking at – as long as you always have a chance to stay in it you have got to try and hang on as best you can and this is a hard game for us because the expectancy level is on us.
'We will need the crowd to be patient and hopefully stay with us when we don't have the ball for about a second.
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'They (Preston) are desperate, those lads up there, so the crowd have to be patient and realise that we are trying to win a game.
'As I said, the away fans last week – fantastic. But we are going to have the majority of the fans tomorrow and we need them. It's not rocket science.
'To try and achieve something you need the fans on your side, good or bad we need them.
'That's the big thing, we definitely need the fans to be with us because people think we are going to turn up and win. You may as well get it in your head right now – don't expect an easy game.'
The post-Doncaster reaction clearly still rankles.
'I don't mind what people want to say because they pay hard-earned money to come and watch,' insisted Lambert.
'It is their money, it is their club. As I said, the fans at Norwich are special I think because there is only one team in the city, but you have just got to hope they realise what has happened here.
'I hear that stuff about Norwich shouldn't have gone down, but they did. You go down for a reason. It doesn't happen like that. Nobody is just going to point at a football club and say, 'you deserve to be in that league or that league'.
'It's not rocket science. It's people coming in and not giving a damn about the place and going away to their parent club. People forget that is what you have to realise – the majority of fans realise I think what has happened.
'I'm pretty sure the fans will have a different thing tomorrow because I think they will realise we are not just going to turn up thinking we have a God-given right that we are going to turn up and things are going to be easy.'
Preston drew 2-2 at City's promotion rivals Nottingham Forest last week and Lambert and his assistant Ian Culverhouse saw them take a 2-0 lead at Watford in mid-February before being pegged back for a draw.
'You respect them because they are a good side,' said Lambert. 'They have had some unlucky results.
'But we are playing well, the crowd will be right on our side. You just ask the fans to be patient because sometimes it can be detrimental to the team. Maybe they don't realise it can affect the team.'