Seven reasons to trust Lambert
Chris LakeyPhil Parkinson clearly wasn't best pleased on Sunday as he tried to explain away the Charlton fans' frustrations after more points were dropped at home.Chris Lakey
Phil Parkinson clearly wasn't best pleased on Sunday as he tried to explain away the Charlton fans' frustrations after more points were dropped at home.
"What the supporters have got to understand is that I've pieced this team together with absolutely no money," he said. "I've always been in a position of uncertainty, even over what wages I can give players because of the financial constraints at the club.
"If there any supporters out there with the odd million pound floating around and they want to donate it to us to go and get a proven striker, like Norwich City did when they got Grant Holt, then I'll gladly go and get it.
"But with the wages I've had to spend, we're third in the table. The majority of the supporters have been great, but there is a minority that need to get up tomorrow morning and look at the league table."
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One assumes that players like Miguel Llera, Frazer Richardson and Christian Dailly don't come cheaply each week, while Parkinson's loan deals have, with one exception, involved players with either Championship or Premier League clubs.
Paul Lambert inherited Grant Holt, who was signed by Bryan Gunn last summer from Shrewsbury, the fee undisclosed, but reckoned to be around the �500,000 mark.
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That's a lot of money for a club like City, especially now as the new-ish regime behind the scenes continues its housekeeping in an effort to steady the financial ship.
Lambert has never bemoaned the financial constraints at Carrow Road, but his dealings in the transfer market suggest that he relies on a good eye rather than a thick wad of notes to bring in quality players.
Since he walked through the door he has brought in seven players, and while some have appeared more often than others, it's hard to find fault with his judgment.
First in was goalkeeper Fraser Forster, six and a half feet of pure talent who has grown in stature since late August when he joined on loan from Newcastle and is deservedly earning recognition for his heroics. His save from Jonathan Douglas at Swindon on Saturday was magnificent - his ability to win the eyeball challenges, the one-on-ones with strikers, is uncanny. Having secured him initially for a month and then until the end of January, Lambert now has him to the end of the season - any play-off games included.
Lambert then produced a loan double, bringing in right-back Russell Martin from Peterborough and winger Anthony McNamee from Swindon within 24 hours of each other at the end of November.
Martin has solved the right-back problem, where Jon Otsemobor was never 100pc comfortable. Not only can he defend, or play in a back three when circumstances dictate, but he's a quality overlapping full-back too.
McNamee has had to be content with a support role - although Lambert would probably baulk at that description, given everyone in his squad has to make an equal contribution. When Darel Russell was suspended for three games he stepped in to a rejigged format and did really well: he made goals in each game, before going back on to the bench.
Interestingly, his old boss at Swindon, Danny Wilson, said he had no room for McNamee, suggesting he was "a passenger".
"You've always got to look at whether you can have a player of Macca's ability in your team," he said. "If you've not got the players around him, he'll find it very difficult. I don't think there's many teams can carry any passengers in any league.
"But again if you've got a special one, then you need a special team of players around that particular person to carry on his defensive work. I didn't feel we could do that quite honestly and I still don't. I still think we need everybody out there who can do their shift defensively."
Swindon's loss is City's gain.
Early in January, Lambert brought us another double - defender Zak Whitbread came in from Millwall and young striker Oli Johnson from Stockport, both on two-and-a-half-year deals, for undisclosed fees.
Whitbread came in short of fitness after injury and after there appearances off the bench was injured against his former club. But what we saw of him we liked: a classy performer, without doubt.
Johnson has made a very different impact. He was an unknown quantity, with little over a year in the pro game under his belt. It was a fairytale move, he said. First impressions weren't just good, they were excellent.
His first touch of the ball in a City shirt - at home to Exeter - brought a mazy run and shot that was inches away from being goal of the season. He scored in the 5-0 win at Colchester and, more recently, grabbed two late goals to secure a come-form-behind win at home to Southend. The fans love him.
Michael Rose followed him from Stockport later in the month - perfect timing as the left-back spot was up for grabs after Adam Drury's thigh injury at Walsall three days earlier.
Rose scored on his debut, took a few games to bed in, but at Swindon on Saturday was my man of the match. Drury is fit again - but struggling to dethrone Rose, who is here until the end of the season.
That appeared to be that, until Lambert sprang a surprise three weeks ago when he signed striker Stephen Elliott on loan from Preston for the rest of the campaign.
Elliott is a classy performer, a Republic of Ireland international - one that perhaps Phil Parkinson would be able to look at and say "I wish I could afford to do that".
Two goals to clinch a fine win at Huddersfield underlined what a valuable acquisition he is. With Grant Holt and Chris Martin having such fine seasons in front of goal, we tend to forget that there weren't actually that many attacking options.
Johnson and Cody McDonald are young and relatively inexperienced. Martin is only 21. Elliott adds quality competition.
How much Lambert has planned ahead, in private anticipation of Championship football, we don't know. Of the seven new faces, three - Forster, Rose and Elliott - are on loan. Whether or not we see them after May 8 is also unknown.
The third unknown involves the money. The four permanent signings came for those infamous "undisclosed fees", while loan fees will have to be paid for the rest. That's the norm.
While Simon Grayson hunts for reinforcements to revive Leeds and while Parkinson bemoans his financial plight at Charlton, Lambert may just sit out today's final day of activity in the emergency loan market.
But if he does make a surprise move, there are seven reasons which suggest it will be a wise one.