Norwich v Villa preview: Lambert - We're getting stronger
Paul Lambert takes Villa to Norwich on Saturday with growing confidence in camp.
Lambert, while keeping everyone's feet on the ground, accepts that there is a positive feel around the club - among the players, staff and fans.
It may only be four months ago but that tough festive period seems like an eternity ago.
Most managers would aim to gloss over questions relating to the pummelling his side took, 8-0 by Chelsea, 4-0 to Tottenham and 3-0 to Wigan in a terrible sequence of results.
But Lambert insists that terrible run was the making of his emerging side.
Rather than suck the confidence out of the team, Lambert believes it spurred them on to bigger and better things.
Asked whether he thought the games might have had an overwhelming impact, he said: "No. Not really. I knew they would come through it.
"Sometimes it's the making of you when you have so much adversity.
"If you do come through it, it will stand you in really good stead - not just as a footballer but as a person.
"It's never easy when you lose any sort of game. But to be fair to them, they never once got their head down and never once moped around.
"They kept going. That's a big testament to the team."
Lambert says he can't pinpoint a game or a moment where the tide turned, preferring instead to highlight gradual improvement week-upon-week.
He continued: "It's hard to pick one point when you feel you turned the corner.
"The confidence has always been there. The capability has always been there.
"The fact about the lads being able to score has always been a big, big thing for us.
"It's hard to say one thing has helped us. The confidence is growing and they are getting better in every game.
"And, as I have said before, the crowd have definitely stuck with it.
"I wouldn't say one game has turned the corner for us. It's a collective thing of a few months that has certainly helped us."
Now it's on to a reunion - his third this season - with former club Norwich.
Many will point to his past association with the Canaries but Lambert is having none of it.
He says "it's all about Villa now" and stresses that there is no time for sentiment in football as he gets set to return to East Anglia.
He added: "There's no sentimental stuff in football. I had a great time there, a brilliant three years, a great rapport with people there and the fans were brilliant with me. I do have great memories there.
"But in football sometimes you have to let things go. You move on.
"People move on. If you get caught up then it deflects from the game. It's not about me being back there.
"It's Chris's team now. There are some new lads there.
"All I would say is the lads who worked under us for the three years there were fantastic and the crowd were right behind them too. But you move on.
"My job is here. That's my job. It's just another game I am looking forward to. We know we have a hard game but we certainly know we are playing well enough. That's the big thing.
"And anybody who has seen us throughout the season, we don't go for a draw. If our fans are anything like they were in the cup game then we will take a ferocious support down there. It's a tough game but we are playing well."
Norwich v Villa
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Ciaran Clark and Karim El Ahmadi are both out of the Norwich clash.
Clark [foot] and El Ahmadi missed the Sunderland and will do the same for the Canaries match.
Lambert could well keep the same team for the Carrow Road encounter.
Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy is in line to play his first game after a five month lay-off with a thigh injury.
Defender Sebastien Bassong has recovered from an ankle problem.
Villa will be wearing their home kit of claret and blue.
The only players in the top five European leagues to score more league goals than Christian Benteke (13) in 2013 are Lionel Messi (18) and Cristiano Ronaldo (17).
It was honours even in the corresponding fixture in October - Paul Lambert's first meeting with his former employers ended 1-1.
Christian Benteke now holds the Villa record for the most Premier League goals in a season with 18. Dwight Yorke twice scored 17.
Norwich are unbeaten in their last seven league games at Carrow Road (W2, D5).
Go to full match coverage for Norwich 1 - 2 Aston Villa (3rd May 2013) >
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