Blog: Inspirational Lambert igniting the passion of the fans
Paul Brown on the Paul Lambert mission statement.
5th May 2013
Blog: Inspirational Lambert igniting the passion of the fans

Paul Lambert made himself very clear when he was unveiled in the McGregors Suite in June 2012.

There was one mission statement - and two vital factors in achieving it.

Lambert said in that opening press briefing, flanked by chief executive Paul Faulkner, that he wanted to - as he put it - "drive the club forward."

He also set out succinctly the two ways he would be able to manage this transformation.

First, he had to get the players to "perform with a hunger and desire to succeed."

Second, he had to "ignite the passion" of the fanbase.

He said that one was very much dependent on the other.

If you can get players performing to their optimum, fans admire, appreciate and ultimately go with you. And if supporters go with you, players have the freedom to shine. It's a win-win situation.

Lambert also said that "great teams have togetherness between players and fans."

It's been seen most vividly at Borussia Dortmund, Lambert's former home, where Jurgen Klopp has assembled a talented, emerging, youthful roster that has inspired the masses in Germany.

Lambert has never veered off his mission statement all season.

And, importantly, it's not PR bluster to gain him brownie points with claret and blue diehards, it's an unerring conviction in what it takes to be successful.

There have been testing times - like the 8-0 hammering at Chelsea - but Lambert has always remained positive and kept his belief that players and fans working together as a team will win the day.

Villa have been building momentum for months now, with those wearing match shirts and those wearing replica shirts playing their part.

But against Norwich, the 'Lambert Way' was there for all to see.

Villa struggled in the first-half but fans never showed any signs of frustration or irritation, they simply supported collectively.

Christian Benteke, for instance, had probably his worst forty-five minutes of the season but the fans still belted out the striker's White Stripes-inspired song throughout the opening period.

Lambert's Lions came roaring back in the second-half and produced the goods to win 2-1, a titanic result in the race for survival.

But, vividly, the players won, it felt, because they had the freedom to express themselves.

They seemingly felt no pressure from the fans, just total, unqualified support.

Lambert's mission statement was there for all to see and appreciate.

Just as Lambert reiterates, week after week, the importance of the fans, he also never tires - and certainly never forgets - to thank them after each and every game.

It was more of the same after the Norwich win, as he briefed television, radio and newspaper reporters about his admiration for the Villa Faithful.

"They have been absolutely phenomenal since the day I arrived," said Lambert.

"They have been terrific. I mean that.

"They have seen some beatings but they have stuck with it. I am not so sure too many fans would have done it. But they have stayed with it.

"It's a big club with demand on it and it's really pleasing to see those supporters happy because they have been outstanding.

"I am delighted for them because, as I said, they've had a hard time like everyone at the football club.

"But hopefully they are getting young lads now who they can identify with. They are bouncing off each other.

"They are right behind the lads. You could see that at Carrow Road.

"We will try to keep building the football club."


It was somewhat fitting too that the player who secured the points was someone who'd probably have been in the crowd had he not made it as a footballer.

Gabby Agbonlahor is the embodiment of fan-player togetherness as he straddles both groups.

He wasn't slow at coming forward and hailing the mammoth support on the final whistle.

"I am delighted for the fans who had to make this four hour journey - if not longer," he added.

"It's massive for us as players to see how many of them come to watch us and support us.

"It was great to go and celebrate my goals with them. It's always nice to do that with the fans because of the sacrifices they make week-in and week-out to come and see us. It's nice to give them something back."

Naturally, pictures of Agbonlahor's goals from Carrow Road swirled around social media channels like Facebook and Twitter immediately after the game.

There was one, above, which summed up the glorious day.

And, more importantly, it summed up the new "we're in it together" path that Lambert has plotted for the claret and blue family.

There may still be bumps ahead but I'm sure it will lead to something special.

paul lambert, norwich city, paul brown, blogs,
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