Premier League safety first for Norwich City boss Paul Lambert
Paul Lambert will get no extra satisfaction from proving the pundits wrong when Norwich City secure their Premier League status.
The Canaries were widely tipped nationally for an instant Championship return before a ball was kicked last summer but go into this Saturday's latest test at Fulham 14 points clear of the relegation places.
Norwich's 2-1 weekend win over bottom club Wolves also maintained their impressive record against those fighting for their lives – although Lambert is at a loss to explain his side's sustained success against many of the strugglers this season.
'I don't really know. All I have to worry about is Norwich and trying to keep Norwich in the division,' he said. 'But I can assure you it's never comfortable. No game is. I've never been involved in one and it's really, really tough. It's a really tough league and you don't rest until you've done it.
'It never bothers me if people want to say things about this club. I don't get involved in it. People's opinions in football are like that. I have no problem whatever with people having opinions. I just concentrate on Norwich City.
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'We've worked incredibly hard to get here in the three years we've been here and if we survive this season it will surpass anything that me and Ian (Culverhouse) and Gary (Karsa) have achieved, and that includes winning League One and that includes getting promoted. That's the magnitude of what we've done so far.'
Canaries' goalkeeper John Ruddy insists the focus remains on ensuring another Premier League campaign, but the City number one has echoed Lambert's call to try and push on for the run-in.
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'The aim is to stay in the league,' said Ruddy. 'Everybody wants to be here. It is the best league in the world. You are playing against the best players week in, week out and you don't want to drop out of it. To go on a run like we did, when we only picked up a point or two from the last few games, and still be relatively safe is a reflection of how well we have done for the majority of the season.
'If we can carry it on now we have got a great opportunity to finish in the top half.'
Norwich travel to Craven Cottage this weekend only three points behind seventh-placed Liverpool. Lambert watched Kenny Dalglish's men blow a two-goal lead at QPR recently, but the City chief is not interested in any sort of comparison between his club and the big-spending Reds.
'Liverpool is a top side. I went to watch them the other night against QPR and they were brilliant. I know they lost the game, but they were excellent,' he said.
'They've got some world-class players up there. But all I can do is concentrate on Norwich.
'I can only look after Norwich and we've done incredibly well to get where we are.'