Former Celts Paul Lambert and Malky Mackay enjoyed the happiest of new years with Norwich and Watford both enjoying impressive home wins.
Norwich’s 1-0 win over QPR took them to within five points of the league leaders whilst Watford’s 3-0 win over Portsmouth lifted them into sixth place and a play-off spot.
In just over 15 months Lambert has transformed Norwich from a team on the slide to promotion candidates with his own reputation growing game by game.
After today’s win he said: “It was a monumental effort when you consider all the lads we had out – senior pros not just kids. It was a superb win anyway but the fact that we had players in the side who hadn’t played for a long time made it all the more special.
“All the lads were brilliant for me today and I couldn’t have asked any more of them. It was an excellent performance.”
But don’t mention the p(romotion) word to the former Celt.
“My target is still survival,” he claimed. “If we can achieve that in this league then hopefully I will be in a job for a little bit longer. Don’t ask me about promotion now. Try again in May and I might be able to give you an answer.”
Former Norwich skipper Mackay is enjoying a fabulous spell at Watford.
Four wins on the bounce has been achieved against speculation that he is wanted as Alan Pardew’s assistant at Newcastle.
Mackay hasn’t been given a cheque book to build a team but has concentrated on man management and scouting to bring success to Vicarage Road.
On loan Middlesbrough full-back Andrew Taylor opened the scoring with a spectacular strike that delighted his boss.
Mackay said: “Technically it was a fantastic goal and he’s someone that’s come in and his character, personality and professionalism has been unquestionable at the football club.
“He had a bit of a mixed time in the last nine months at Middlesbrough, so when he came here he was maybe not quite match fit, but within a few games I think we’ve seen the worth of him.
“I think the goal, just before half-time, really settled things down and made us come out in the second half with real confidence.
“It’s great that the youngsters are actually learning to play against good opponents because we were playing against a team who have got real experienced players, a good experienced manager and a team that, on their day, will give anyone a go in this division.”
Elsewhere in the division Tony Mowbray and Roy Keane enjoyed decent draws away to Leeds United and Coventry City.
Despite rumours of a return to Celtic Scott McDonald was in the Middlesbrough side at Eland Road whilst Darren O’Dea played the full 90 minutes for Ipswich.
Crystal Palace sacked George Burley after their 3-0 defeat at Millwall- the third Championship side to sack their manager this week.
Hip op made Freddie feel 25 again.
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