Vital Football

Latest Colchester United News

U`sed & Abused? Lambert Leaves Essex An Anti-hero

U`sed & Abused? Lambert Leaves Essex An Anti-hero

Editorial: U`sed & Abused? Lambert Leaves Essex An Anti-hero

Yesterday, Colchester United initially must have felt to most fans like a club with a death wish - as Chairman and owner Robbie Cowling later admitted in a statement, losing both boss and team captain in the space of a morning doesn`t represent an overly good day`s work. In hopping north to Norwich, after just over 48-hours of eventually indiscreet flirting, Paul Lambert morphed from manager to public enemy number one.

The newswires went from red to white hot as the balmiest day of the summer so far turned into by far Essex`s most barmy. Tuesday morning`s motif leached violently between potentially glorious to irrepressibly grim as the man set to mastermind a best start for five years instead became the third in fifteen responsible for walking out while still under contract. The Norwich-to-Lambert link had sprouted a-few-too-many seeds the previous evening for a tame dismissal as some idle rival`s non-joke.

You can hardly blame United`s caretaker, Joe Dunne, therefore, for his refusal to look beyond the 24-hours spanning Gillingham`s league visit on Tuesday. This was a game for which both the fans and club had expected Lambert to take charge, to the point where he`d filed his programme notes and probably already picked the team. Next moment - gone.

During Saturday`s perhaps unnecessarily narrow win over Yeovil, it had all been so different. Smatterings of United`s home support began signing, in dribs and drabs, a common soccer-shanty in tribute to their now bedding-in boss, whose summer groundwork was set to seal a second league win in as many games. The afternoon`s wholly decent result, alongside a thoroughly stunning 7-1 score against those courting him, had plenty gleefully belting out not only the manager`s name, but about how there was only one of him.

It didn`t resound around Lambert`s redesigned pitch at the Community Stadium, however, as much as get caught in the wind. That image shows saying Lambert enjoyed a universal popularity during his spell as manager would be false; he`d spent the summer re-arranging a squad comprising a smattering of established names - Johnnie Jackson, Dean Gerken, John White - before the Championship Manager generation who almost to a man thought they knew better.

Whether you think Lambert`s brand of tough-love made sense in his all-too brief tenure depends largely on if you think watching football is about winning games at whatever cost ahead of getting partial towards specific players.

Lambert came to Colchester United to get results, laying out the team and tactics he alone designed, while flying in the face of flimsy and ever-changeable community opinion. Fandom was for others - hence why he was rarely seen at PR functions and recently avoided an appearance on an all-new flagship radio show.

As a Scot built in the mould of the modern game`s great power-wielders, Roy Keane, Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho, Lambert showed signs of moving mountains in his months with the U`s, especially when thrashing his next employers, 7-1. While Lambert may not yet have the track record to merit such casual comparisons, he has their same swagger and demeanour; a confidence that allowed him to forget professional ties and saunter swiftly into the Canary`s conference room on a rolling deal, technically still registered as Colchester United`s manager.

For U`s fans the hurt ran high because Lambert`s move showed a lack of compassion for the club as well as fundamentally undermining his own summer-long trumpery. Repeatedly came the insistence that Colchester could scale the play-off places; David Fox even told disbelieving supporters that he was convinced to join from Blackpool once the manager explained he intended to win League One outright.

The doubt evaporated at the start of this season when a new complement of players started to shine (Fox, Magnus Okuonghae) alongside last season`s most promising recruits (Simon Hackney, Ashley Vincent and Marc Tierney). But if Lambert actually reckoned his new team could do all he suggested and more, why didn`t he stay and see it through? That`s irrelevant now, because the sum of his scattergun exit means those empathic statements resonate as one huge empty promise.

Although admittedly sitting on presently a far-bigger infrastructure than Colchester, Norwich after all do currently hover haphazardly around the same division`s relegation places.

The man`s mentality was clearly to build what to outsider observers looked like a boot-camp. Yet, the amount of praise Lambert kept conferring publically to his players in the opening games suggests he was both defending them against attacks for the media mob and massaging their in turn egos, so to nurture some spirit and self-belief.

That`s why the crowd responded with such a siege attitude during the Gillingham game; they were protecting against the possible psychological impact behind losing someone prided on being an arch-motivator to his chosen core; the U`s though went on to prove a degree of self-motivation during last evening`s match by winning in spite and not directly because of Paul Lambert`s influence as a leader of his troops.

They rode the storm and supporters bore the scars from an episode in which an entire novel of melodrama compressed itself into just a single day. As supporters responded vocally in the stands against the affront to their judgement, that had mere hours ago allowed them to consider ushering Lambert`s way unconditionally into their hearts, Pat Baldwin`s cavorting and cajoling around the Colchester pitch spoke of something much deeper.

It was a symbol of life going on, as well as a reminder that it had done so before; Baldwin`s service to the U`s predates nearly every other first-teamer in the side. Meanwhile, Lambert was cast out as the anti-hero who traded his chips on Colchester`s fine first-day win much sooner than he had either intended or expected.

United always knew Lambert would use them as a means to end, though. It just wasn't expected quite as quickly as all that.

Bookmark and Share

So what do you think?

Let us know with a comment below, or chat about this article in the forum. Not yet a member? Don't panic, click on the banner below to join in.

We want to know YOUR thoughts...



Follow us on Twitter

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Wednesday August 19 2009
Time: 11:52PM


It is ever the way of the ambitious to tread lightly on the stepping stones to glory. Take heart from the massive task he faces to drag Norwich out of a mire which has been dragging us down for over 4 years now - a task which has proved beyond the abilities of the previous 4 managers! I suspect it will be some time before you have to look above Colchester in the league table, in search of the Canaries!!! Still, thanks for the boss, he may yet save our season.
20/08/2009 12:43:00
It will be interesting to see how he gets on now he has to make and not buy, due to the transfer window shutting soon, talent. Perahps then everyone will see what makeths this manager; he didn't prove himself at Colchester, but the offer was on the table anyway and he took it!
20/08/2009 15:49:00
he's not a proven manger so before you go all thanks for the boss you have to think at norwich your players are CR*P and your gunna need good enough players to get your selves out of religation once again because labert sighned some bloody good plays at colchester and there happy here
21/08/2009 17:08:00
Headza (and welcome to the site, by the way) is right in the sense that it is a risk by City to take him on... everyone here will be fine without him, in the end.
21/08/2009 17:28:00
Really hope they go down! Would love it! No loyalty at all from Lambert. Had a lot of respect for him and always backed him but he has shone no respect to Cowling, the club, players or fans! SCUM!!!!
StevieG Col U
21/08/2009 21:55:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Best of Euro Vital

Best of Vital Network

Recent Colchester United Articles

EFL Goal Of 2016 Contenders Named

Ten EFL professional footballers find themselves nominated for the treasured Goal Of The Year gong for 2016.

More Reliable Than A League 2 Octopus? (21/3/17)

Time for the new special computer that crunches the numbers to determine the final League Two positions for 2016/17.

Safe Standing Takes Another Step

Last weekend the EFL contacted League One and Two clubs and informed them that they had the choice of whether or not to introduce the new 'rail seats' that are a topic...

FSF February 2017 Round-up

February was an important month for the game as the future of the FA came under intense scrutiny. We submitted recommendations to MPs who are calling for...

Vital Colchester Social Media

Archived Vital Colchester Articles

Vital Colchester articles from

Have Your Say

Suggest an article
Suggest a poll
As featured on NewsNow:Colchester United newsColchester United
News 24/7

Site Journalists

Write for Vital Colchester
Write For Vital Colchester
Apply Here

Current Poll (see more polls)

Colchester v Rochdale
Suggested By:
Colchester win55%
Rochdale win36%

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
1 Doncaster 38 23 9 6 78 31
2 Plymouth 38 22 6 10 72 18
3 Portsmouth 38 19 8 11 65 25
4 Stevenage 38 19 4 15 61 12
5 Luton 38 15 15 8 60 20
6 Carlisle 38 15 14 9 59 0
7 Exeter 38 17 7 14 58 16
8 Blackpool 38 14 15 9 57 20
9 Mansfield 38 14 13 11 55 3
10 Wycombe 38 15 10 13 55 1
11 Colchester 38 15 9 14 54 3
12 Cambridge 37 15 8 14 53 6
13 Grimsby 38 14 9 15 51 -2
14 Accrington 37 12 12 13 48 -1
15 Barnet 38 11 15 12 48 -5
16 Morecambe 38 13 7 18 46 -13
17 Yeovil 38 10 15 13 45 -9
18 Crewe 38 11 12 15 45 -11
19 Crawley 38 12 9 17 45 -16
20 Notts County 38 12 7 19 43 -23
21 Hartlepool 38 10 11 17 41 -15
22 Cheltenham 38 9 12 17 39 -14
23 Newport 38 7 12 19 33 -20
24 Leyton Orient 38 9 5 24 32 -26
Write for Vital Football
Latest F1 News
Latest Vital Boxing News
The Vital Football Members League

Recent Colchester United Results (view all)

Colchester United Fixtures (view all)

Mar 25 2017 3:00PM : Luton Town (H)
Sky Bet League Two
Apr 1 2017 3:00PM : Notts County (a)
Sky Bet League Two
Apr 8 2017 3:00PM : Stevenage (H)
Sky Bet League Two
Apr 14 2017 3:00PM : Doncaster Rovers (H)
Sky Bet League Two
Apr 17 2017 3:00PM : Morecambe (a)
Sky Bet League Two
Apr 22 2017 3:00PM : Plymouth Argyle (H)
Sky Bet League Two

Breaking League News

Vital Football Comment