Lambert stays in survival mode
West Brom 1-2 Norwich
Monday 16 January 2012
Schooled as they are in toeing the party line, Norwich City continue to talk of 40-point targets, tough fixtures and, humbler still, "staying in this League". Which leaves the rest of us to argue the case that they look sufficiently organised, driven and equipped not only to survive but to avoid serious anxieties.
This snatched victory over a mystifying West Bromwich Albion, secured by two brilliant breakaway goals, added fuel to the belief that they will succeed where those other first-half fliers in the Premier League's recent past, Burnley and Blackpool, did not.
Norwich's record after 21 games is identical to Blackpool's last season – in points and virtually to the goal. But the current flag-bearers of the cause of unlikely post-promotion success actually appear to be growing stronger.
This was a third straight win of 2012, a fourth consecutive away game undefeated and, above all, another triumph for the pragmatism of Paul Lambert.
No vulnerability is yet detectable around the Canary breast and Lambert even has his players speaking for him while carrying out his intelligent instructions to the letter.
"If you haven't got the mentality and you get ahead of yourselves in this League, you're going to stumble," said their outstanding goalkeeper, John Ruddy. "The manager won't allow us to think about safety. He's brought a mentality where there are no big egos."
Ruddy defied Albion with three fine saves and was an admiring spectator as Norwich twice switched from defence to attack to strike through Andrew Surman and Steve Morison.
Albion created enough to have taken something and the ending of their 343-minute League goal drought was meagre consolation for a seventh home defeat. Shane Long raised hope with a penalty soon after going on but fully understands the exasperation of his manager, Roy Hodgson. The striker said: "We're playing good football and it's just not clicking for us."
Booking: Norwich, Ayala
Man of the match: Ruddy
Referee: M Dean (Wirral)
Latest in Sport
- 1 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 Is Ebola coming to Britain? UK health officials issue warning to doctors as outbreak fears grow
- 4 Richard Dawkins says 'date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse' on Twitter
- 5 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?