The Paul Lambert era can never be forgotten at Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Rightly or wrongly, one name will be on the lips of many at Carrow Road tomorrow, as Paul Lambert returns to the scene of his greatest managerial successes.
It's been almost three years since the Scot was last reunited with the Canaries but things have changed for him and his former club in the intervening period.
His time at Aston Villa came to an ugly end – as plenty of City fans had warned him it would when he left in the summer of 2012.
An odd decision to spend the back end of last season at Championship strugglers Blackburn came to a swift end but the former Celtic and Borussia Dortmund midfielder now looks to have found a project at Wolves which suits his skills.
His acrimonious exit here did not go to plan and, in truth, City have still not yet fully recovered from his swashbuckling era of success ending in an unsavoury nature.
The failure to make assurances Lambert would have the funds to establish the Canaries in the top flight saw him plump for Villa, a club with undoubtedly huge potential but in worse financial health at the time.
The man who superbly inspired City from League One to the Premier League with back-to-back promotions was soon facing his former club with Villa but with dark clouds hanging over his head.
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That came after Norwich chairman Alan Bowkett revealed at a fans' forum Lambert was suing the club for up to £2m.
He responded in October 2012 by saying he hadn't spoken to Bowkett in two years, as it emerged that a Premier League manager's tribunal had been set up to settle the bitter dispute.
The matter was settled two months later without the need for the tribunal though, with Villa agreeing to pay a settlement to Norwich and City agreeing to pay Lambert a bonus for the 2011/12 season – with all fees undisclosed.
In amongst all that off-field acrimony, the former Wycombe and Colchester boss saw his side held to a 1-1 draw at Villa Park, with Michael Turner's header earning City a point, and win 4-1 at Carrow Road.
He enjoyed every moment of the League Cup quarter-final victory, seeing Christian Benteke tear his old team apart, milking his moment on the pitch at full-time, celebrating with his players and waving to the away supporters.
Villa also won 2-1 at Carrow Road late that season but it was Chris Hughton who had the upper hand as City finished 11th in the Premier League and Villa in 15th, five points clear of the drop.
The following season he won yet again at his old home, with a 1-0 victory in September 2013, before the antipathy was to build further.
That came amidst Villa's attempts to sign Wes Hoolahan in January 2014, leading to confusion over a transfer request but the Canaries ultimately refusing to sell the Irish playmaker.
Typically, it would be Hoolahan who would open the scoring two months later, before Villa went on to win 4-1 at Villa Park.
By the end of that season Norwich had slipped back to the second tier and Lambert was limping on at an unhappy Villa, until he was sacked in February 2015, with the club in the relegation zone.
It's been quite the soap opera but today Lambert returns with the City faithful now able to see – with the benefit of time – just how brilliant his time with the club was.
So despite the bad blood that has existed since his exit, with the Canaries now struggling to build any kind of momentum back in the Championship under Alex Neil, the former boss could well get a warmer reception than the current man in the hot-seat.
It was even suggested last summer that, with Bowkett and former chief executive David McNally no longer at the club, Lambert would be keen on a return to Norfolk.
It seems he is settling in nicely at Wolves now though – as City fans could well get to see for themselves as the story continues tomorrow.
Since leaving Norwich City in the summer of 2012, Paul Lambert has enjoyed facing his former club...
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Oct 2012 – Premier League – Villa 1 Norwich 1
Dec 2012 – League Cup – Norwich 1 Villa 4
May 2013 – Premier League – Norwich 1 Villa 2
Sept 2013 – Premier League – Norwich 0 Villa 1
Mar 2014 – Premier League – Villa 4 Norwich 1