What next for Paul Lambert? A man once adored by Norwich fans....

Lambert

What next for former Norwich City and Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert? - Credit: Archant/Stephan Waller/Pagepix Ltd

Paul Lambert was once a man who walked on water in Norfolk for the unrivalled success he brought to Norwich City after inheriting it at its lowest ebb in recent history.

Now, after exiting Ipswich Town, the Scot is firmly in the footballing wilderness. It has been a decade since one of his teams were considered to be successful. Since he walked out on the Canaries to become Aston Villa boss, the grass hasn't proven to be as green as he initially expected. 

His appointment at Ipswich was indicative of where both parties had found themselves. Ipswich's gradual decline after a decade of underinvestment and overachievement under Mick McCarthy was beginning to catch up with them. 

Lambert had bounced around clubs after leaving Villa, failing to secure a long-term role and working under difficult ownership groups in the process. 

At Ipswich, he seemed to bounce in to Suffolk and diagnose the systemic issues that left supporters feeling disenfranchised and disconnected. Yet, despite utilising the very best PR management he had in his manual, he was unable to retain their long-held Championship status. 

Few would have blamed the Scot for leaving. He could have pinned the failings on Paul Hurst and left somewhat intact. A failure to get the Tractor Boys back to the second-tier at the first time of asking seemed fatal, and yet he managed to secure a fresh five-year deal and a tighter grip of the reins. 

It's now increasingly difficult to speculate where Lambert may end up next. 

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To many, he will be seen as damaged goods. There is an undeniable connection between the difficulties in his managerial career began with Ian Culverhouse and Gary Karsa no longer working closely alongside him. 

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Paul Lambert seemed unbreakable at Norwich City. - Credit: Archant

His success at Norwich has been the reason other clubs have looked so favourably towards him. Now, his CV is littered with short-term jobs and one major underperformance at Portman Road. 

Lambert has played for some big clubs, whether that reputation is enough to land him a role in Scotland or to be provided with another opportunity to manage a club in England remains to be seen. 

What is more intriguing is how his legacy at Carrow Road will look after his reign with arch-rivals Ipswich Town.

Few will forget that occasion he arrived in Norfolk with his Aston Villa side in the League Cup quarter-final and celebrated enthusiastically on the sideline as a Christian Benteke inspired performance saw the Midlands club walk away 4-1 victors. 

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11/12/2012
Aston Villa Manager Paul La

Lambert celebrated as Villa beat City at Carrow Road in the League Cup quarter-final back in 2012. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

His return with Wolves was more positive. Lambert was met with mild applause and time seemed to have healed the fractious manner in which he exited the club. 

Then he became Ipswich boss. 

Lambert showed plenty of fight on the Carrow Road touchline after seeing red, both literally and metaphorically, as his team were comfortably beaten 3-0 by a side who eventually become Championship title winners. 

After the game, the Scot repeated a simple saying in his press conference. 'Short memories'. 

"Do I regret it? No, I don't. I am not going to have that. Me coming back here. Normal stuff. This club was in League One when I was here. Short memories, short memories. The steward put his hands on me and I objected to that."

In many ways, his demise at Ipswich may actually elevate his standing among City supporters. To achieve remarkable things at Carrow Road and then plunge their rivals to their lowest depth in 60 years is quite the achievement. 

Paul Lambert is sent to the stands by referee Peter Bankes

Paul Lambert is sent to the stands by referee Peter Bankes during the 2019 East Anglian derby. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

But, whereas Lambert was once a man revered and respected for the job he did in NR1, he is now the butt of the joke. He is the man who will always be remembered for crossing the divide despite unparalleled success in Norfolk. 

The next few years will be interesting to watch. Will Lambert's status resume as a City hall of famer or will that spell with Ipswich mean the light never shines as glowingly as once before? Time will only tell. 

At one point, Lambert was a man who looked unbreakable. After his Ipswich experience and horrendous battle with coronavirus, he looks like a broken man. 

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