Stalwarts | Paul Lambert and Grant Holt have, more than any other figures, been synonymous with Norwich City’s mercurial rise from League One to the Premier League. Both will be sorely missed. (Image | EDP)

“It’s over, you don’t need to tell me.”

Norwich City Football Club look almost certain to lose manager Paul Lambert, the man who took the Canaries from bedraggled League One also-rans into genuine contenders in the Premier League. Further to this. With Aston Villa expecting to name Lambert as their new permanent boss on Wednesday, it has been rumoured that the Scotsman will make Grant Holt his first signing, for a fee in the region of £3m.

This is the nightmare scenario for City: while it is understandable that Lambert, who is fiercely ambitious and has worked wonders in the space of three years at Carrow Road, would want to move on one day, the timing is painful for the Yellows. Having acquitted themselves tremendously in the top flight, and not once looked out of place against more illustrious and financially potent competitors, the club is set to lose its heartbeat, the core of a tight-knit group of players and coaches.

It is impossible to know exactly what reaction to expect from Norwich supporters. Numb disbelief will probably prevail, tinged with understanding at the decision Lambert has taken. Holt’s exploits yesterday, however, are less easy to comprehend. Without the Canaries, the man who sells more shirts than anyone else in the yellow and green of Norwich City would never have been in contention for an England call up. Perhaps even the Premier League would have been a pipe dream for the 31-year-old.

A surprise package | 60 goals in 120 games for Norwich City demonstrates the impact Grant Holt has had in the space of three years. He leaves a void that will need to be filled. (Image | News Hub)

Clearly Holt is wishing to follow Lambert; his mentor, the man who gave Holt the chance to have a team built around him. One cannot blame the striker for this sort of professional attachment. However, City fans are probably owed more from their captain than a quick announcement on Twitter, which is what they were given.

“Just to stop the rumour mill again. I have expressed to the board and the CEO that I want to leave the football club. Due to disagreements.”

And that was it. Both will depart in the next few days, and the Pride of Anglia face an uphill battle to retain their Premier League status, and cope with a loss that will be more than merely physical. Holt was the veritable King of Carrow Road, while Lambert could do no wrong. It is hard to imagine a club built around figures such as these just carrying on in their absence.

There is also the question of why, and it is one that ought to be asked. Why Villa? An ambitious figure, you might imagine, would cast aside budgets and wage increases (Holt is apparently on just £16,000 per week at Norwich, for example) in favour of making a step up in footballing terms.

Ambitious | Paul Lambert would do well to remember that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. He may never experience the warmth and affection shown by the Yellow Army at any other club. (Image | Examiner)

It is hard to paint the Villains as this. Perhaps with Charles N’Zogbia in the side, who was inconceivably left out time and again by sacked former manager Alex McLeish, a finish greater than 16th in the Premier League table is possible. However, the Canaries were able to surpass this meagre achievement on a fraction of the budget, with far less experience and an incalculably higher rate of enthusiasm, organisation and team spirit.

Former player Malky Mackay, the current manager of Cardiff City, has been strongly linked with the position, as has Celtic boss Neil Lennon. While these two figures are incomparable, the “former player” warning remains pertinent. The last time a “club legend” was hired to the vacant manager’s position, it was Bryan Gunn, who proceeded to have a disastrous time in charge, and perhaps taint slightly his venerable image among Norwich supporters.

What this incident has really shown, barring the truth that nothing lasts forever, is the fickle nature of modern football. A dream can only go on for so long, eventually even the most dedicated reader will lose interest in the greatest of stories. The Canaries have to move on, and accept the loss of two undoubted club legends. Lambert, meanwhile, should bear this in mind: Mark Hughes left Fulham because of “ambition”, and finished the season a point away from the Championship as manager of Queens Park Rangers, while the Lilywhites ended up in the top half. Funny game, football.

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