Premier League status the priority – Norwich City boss Paul Lambert
Paul Lambert insists his job is to safeguard the club's hard-fought Premier League status – not chase FA Cup glory.
The Canaries' chief reiterated he will always focus on the bigger picture in the wake of Leicester's fifth round win at Carrow Road.
Lambert's strategy has guided Norwich to within touching distance of top-flight safety, and the Scot had no intention of jeopardising City's meteoric league progress with a rare FA Cup last-eight place at stake against the Foxes.
'I'm pretty sure no-one would thank me to get this football club to the semi-final of the FA Cup, get knocked out, and then get relegated. I don't think people would pat my back then,' he said. 'The main priority for me, and it always will be, is staying in this league.
'I don't think the FA Cup is a diminished competition and everyone in it wants to do well. This club has worked really hard to get into the position it is in and you don't want to give it up lightly. You never get complacent or think you're safe when it's not mathematically done. That is my main concern. I picked a team I thought could win, so it is my fault.'
Lambert defended his decision to rest the likes of Grant Holt and Kyle Naughton, with youngster Jed Steer also preferred in goal to first choice John Ruddy.
'I don't think leaving out Grant or Ruddy or anyone made any difference because everyone else in my own view is good enough to play in the side,' he said.
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'If I thought that then Naughton would have played, Holt would have played, Ruddy would have played, (Andrew) Surman would have played. We just never did enough to go through.
'I have great faith in them that they will go and try to perform, which they do. I've never had one problem with that in the three years I've been here with the team I've picked – that they won't give me everything they've got.'
Lambert shared the frustrations of another huge home crowd after watching the Championship side triumph with goals from Sean St Ledger and David Nugent in either half. Wes Hoolahan had raised hopes of a comeback when he levelled after his initial spot-kick had been saved by Kasper Schmeichel.
'It's the expectancy level here, but it comes with football. I don't mind because that's the nature of the game,' he said. 'This club should have it because there are 27,000 people come in the door every game.
'You have to have an expectancy level or there is no point playing the game. I'm not going to criticise the crowd. They're disappointed, like everybody else, to lose. The players are disappointed, the staff are disappointed – but we also know the realism is we have to try to stay in the league.'
The City boss acknowledged Norwich had slipped below the recent standards which propelled them 14 points clear of the Premier League's bottom three.
'Every game you're disappointed to lose – every one you play in. I just don't think we did enough,' he said. 'I think you've got to be bang at your game every performance you play and if you go below it, you end up getting beaten.
'Good luck to Leicester in the next round. I knew Leicester would be tough. I never look at a game and think it will be easy – never have done – but we just didn't do enough to progress.
'Listen, you can't take anything away from Leicester City. They deserved to go through on the day. Leicester aren't going to just turn up and roll over.
'They want to progress and get out of that Championship as quick as they can. We just never performed.'