Tale of two cities for Norwich City boss
The last time Swansea City rolled into town the Carrow Road faithful witnessed something which they had not been accustomed to under Paul Lambert.
The 2-0 win was pretty standard given the transformation City had undertaken under the Scot but the scoreline only told half the story – the Canaries had been second best.
After steamrolling their way through League One and making a promising start to life in the Championship, Norwich fans had become used to watching their side swat aside teams on their home turf.
But most fans would have left Carrow Road feeling like they had got away it after watching Brendan Rodgers' men dominate for long spells before succumbing to a familiar Canaries late show.
Supporters would surely settle for the same this afternoon but Lambert has heeded the warning from the last campaign – Swansea are not to be taken lightly.
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'They came here and were the better side if truth be told but we ended up winning,' said the City boss, who reported no new injury concerns after the international break. 'That's how strange football can be. It just shows you that goals change games.
'We are two different teams now that have settled into their own way of playing so Brendan has done great – I've got a lot of time for him, he has done fantastically well. It's going to be a really hard game.'
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Commentators will argue that if Norwich have genuine aspirations of staying in the top-flight then three points against a fellow-promoted side are absolutely essential.
However, it is not a view that Lambert subscribes to. The 42-year-old predicted his side are likely to pick up points when they are not expected to and vice versa. You have to look only as far as the defeat at home to West Brom for a game that Norwich were 'expected' to win.
'I don't think it will be a defining moment,' he added. 'Throughout the course of the season a lot of things happen. You pick points up when people don't expect you to and you drop points people think you're going to pick up.
'I think every game is hard, I don't look at the Swansea game and think it will be easier than Manchester United.
'Every game in the Premier League is hard and we've got to earn the right to beat them.'
Lambert insisted he does not look too far ahead for fear of wondering exactly where the next win is going to come from but is delighted with the way his squad have taken to their Premier League challenge.
'We've not played that many games but we've done really fine so far. There's an awful long way to go and it's not the now that concerns me, it's what happens later on.
'I think the performances say we have adjusted but it's still really early. We have come a long way from League One and I think our performances show that we have handled it.
'It's a really hard league, you can look over your shoulder and wonder where your next win is going to come from. It's tough to predict it but the three promoted teams in particular have done great.'
Good individual displays in the top-flight are bound to prompt talk of international call-ups with Bradley Johnson apparently catching the eye of England boss Fabio Capello, something that Lambert doesn't find surprising.
'I heard the rumours and I think Johnno is playing really well, it wouldn't surprise me if his name is being bandied around,' he said.
'He's not surprised me at all – you give lads an opportunity.
'They don't have to prove anything to me, I know what they can do.
'If they are getting recognition like that then it's good for them.'
Lambert has already felt the benefit of the confidence that an international call-up can give to his players in the shape of Andrew Crofts and Steve Morison with Wales.
The City pair have played key roles in the resurgence under Gary Speed and Lambert puts that down to them feeling like they belong in the company of the Gareth Bales and Aaron Ramseys of this world.
'I wouldn't want them to go there and feel that they are inferior to them. They are there on merit and if you are there on merit then I'm sure Gary thinks they can handle that company.
'I'm pretty sure their confidence will be really high at the minute.
'To be fair to the two of them they have done great and they have been for me, which is my main concern.'
After two tough qualifiers some managers would be tempted to give Crofts and Morison a rest, but Lambert wouldn't entertain such a concept at this early stage of the season.
'That's not in my mind at all. There's only been a handful of games played in the Premiership and if you can't run about in this early part then there's something wrong. I won't be resting anyone.'
Lambert revealed that Zak Whitbread is making a good recovery from a hamstring strain, but that today would be too early for the defender to make a comeback whilst the likes of Dani Ayala and Elliott Ward are also on the road to recovery.
James Vaughan and Korey Smith are the only long-term absentees although Lambert ensures he maintains close contact with the players to ensure they still feel part of the squad.
'Zak is doing alright – he is running out with the physios at the minute and there has been no reaction. Tomorrow will be too soon.
'Dani is doing fine as well, as is Wardy – they are a not a million miles away which is a good sign. James Vaughan and Korey (Smith) are the ones that are longer.
'I spoke to him (Vaughan) not long after his op. He is going to have good days and bad days when you have a long timescale but he will be ok.'