(Reuters) - Paul Lambert provided as big a spectacle off the pitch as his new Stoke City side produced on it, leaping off the ground and punching the air during the 2-0 Premier League win over Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
In fact, energy crackled though every part of the best365 stadium where a record crowd welcomed the new regime with huge enthusiasm.
Not every Stoke fan supported the Scot’s appointment, apparently as third-choice successor to previous manager Mark Hughes. But by the end of an emotional day, his name echoed round the ground as a side who have under-performed all season suddenly rediscovered the lost art of winning.
Afterwards, Lambert looked almost embarrassed when asked about his over-exuberant celebration of each Stoke goal.
“You wonder why you come back into it sometimes but that’s the way I am,” said Lambert, who had been out of football since leaving Wolverhampton Wanderers eight months ago.
“I was enjoying my life last weekend and then you come back into this. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. The players were the main factor. Them and the supporters. I guess it is why I came back in.”
The effusive Lambert has sometimes been accused of talking a better game than he has delivered as manager, but Stoke looked invigorated by his presence.
With a fit-again Ryan Shawcross restored to defence and Charlie Adam running midfield, Stoke had the energy, aggression and invention to provide the sort of football Hughes had been demanding in the weeks before his dismissal.
”I thought we were outstanding from the off,“ said Lambert. ”The tempo, the atmosphere in the stadium...
”I thought the link-up play and cut back was excellent for the first goal and it was great inter-play with a brilliant finish for the second.
“There’s a lot of quality. We shouldn’t be in the position we’re in. Mark Hughes did a fantastic job here for four years, Tony (Pulis) before him.”
However, this result confined those names to history; Stoke supporters left the ground with real hope that their season has turned.
Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Christian Radnedge