Lambert Resigns: Reaction
So this is it. This is what it feels like to be Colchester. Lambert has offered his resignation, and though it has so far been rejected, he’s as good as gone, his personal ambition outreaching what he feels can be achieved with Norwich City and moving on to revive another ‘sleeping giant’, Villa. Make no mistake, that’s what they are in comparison to us, recent results be damned.
Ultimately, initial reaction has to be outright dejection. No amount of bargaining, reasoning or anything else will remove the fact that one of the best managers in the history of the club has left us behind. The shoes the next man has to fill are huge. The issue of loyalty is a tricky one; we all know the story of how he joined and that he’s always been ambitious. That he has left in a similar way should surprise no-one, and should serve as a warning to Villa fans who, in two or three years time, will go through the same worry we have.
But as I said in the Holt piece, loyalty is a relic in football, something only treasured and valued by fans. Loyalty isn’t exercised by players, clubs or managers. Managers leave to improve their lot like anyone would leave a job to take up a better one, and clubs dismiss managers like that. You only have to look at the fates Gary Megson or Lee Clarke this season; both doing jobs the rest of the country saw as excellent, both sacked. In both cases the club was vindicated but it’s a fine line, and above all it’s a business.
Frankly, Norwich are where they are because of Lambert and others who turned this club around, starting in the Summer of 2009. Like Holt, Lambert will always retain a certain status here because of his impact over these last three glorious seasons, but the manner of his leaving will stick in the throat of many fans, and not without reason. Many enjoyed a good gloat, a moment of schadenfreude, when the news about Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool was announced after Brendan made a show of his loyalty to Swansea. Lambert’s public protestations about never wanting to go anyway (while carefully not ruling himself out of doing so) will be memorable to fans, just as his quotes about having targets for next season, about scouting players, about building for the future, about loving the rapport with fans. His attempt to resign is merely a way of trying to avoid the issue of compensation for Norwich, who would be owed none if he was a free agent. All of these things will be remembered when judging the manager if not the man. I even wrote here that my gut instinct saw him staying. It’s a shame when you get proved wrong.
Thankfully, the club is in a different world to the one it was in just three years ago, and now have a board in place capable of making the tough decisions. Lambert is no more, and with him will likely go Culverhouse, Karsa and other backroom staff members. The worry is losing players like Holt, Howson and Pilkington. But at the top we still have McNally, and something that comes to mind is speaking to someone at the club last summer who stated that if he had to lose one, McNally or Lambert, it would be the latter. McNally has been the driving force for the rejuvination of the club, for making it viable, keeping it from administration and making hard decisions. There is no harder decision than replacing Paul, but I trust we’ve got the right person making it.