Lambert Can't Wait to Get Going
Tuesday, 30th Oct 2018 12:56 by Darren Campbell
Paul Lambert held his first press conference as Town boss at Playford Road this morning and TWTD was there to hear what he had to say.
Before answering any questions from the media, Lambert, 49 - who was appointed on Saturday on a contract running to 2021 - made time to send messages to Leicester City, having visited the King Power Stadium yesterday, and to Glenn Hoddle, who was taken ill at the weekend.
I was at Leicester City yesterday and I just want to reiterate that my thoughts are with everybody up there at Leicester.
I live up there. Really sad events that happened on Saturday, my thoughts are with the people who lost their lives.
And also to Glenn Hoddle, who is hopefully making a speedy recovery. I've done a couple of things with Glenn on television. Hopefully he's doing good.
How does it feel to be back in management?
Great. I've had around six months off and you start to get itchy feet. I can't wait to get going. Really looking forward to it, can't promise anything, but I'm really looking forward to get going. This'll be the first real day that I'll see most of the lads.
Considering your previous strong association with Norwich, did you have any concerns about taking the Town job?
None whatsoever. I don't want to go back to the Norwich time, that's seven years ago. I had three fantastic years, with everybody - not just myself, the staff, the players who actually did it, the supporters - three fantastic years there.
I don't want to hark back, I don't want you to ask me questions about it because I'm only focused on Ipswich now, to try and get this football club away from the bottom of the table. That's exactly what we'll try and do.
I don't want to be judged by past success or failures, it'll be judged from now on in and we'll hopefully climb that table.
Are you expecting any animosity from Town fans on Saturday?
No, not at all. I saw them on Saturday when I was at Millwall. For a team that's sat at the bottom of the table, they were excellent, right behind them. I'm sure that if we win games, it doesn't matter who's there, they'll get right behind the football club.
After a few days to settle in, what have you identified as the key issues in the squad?
You can't change the past, what's happened in the first few games. I'll identify things pretty quickly and try and sort them. That'll come from a collective. We need everybody. We need the team to enjoy playing football again, which I think is important.
We need the team to play with enthusiasm as well, with the drive, the hunger. And I'll give it 100%. Everything I've got, I'll give it - with my experience, with heart, everything I've got to try and make this club successful.
What has the Town hierarchy told you they want to achieve this season?
The owner Marcus [Evans] has been really good. There's no great expectation level on me at this minute in time, none whatsoever.
We have to get winning football games, and if we get off the bottom of that table and go on a little run, you never know where it can take you.
There's never any expectation level on my shoulders. I know football inside and out, I know the pressures of it, I know the pitfalls of it. And it's something I'm really looking forward to.
How will you use the January transfer window to change the squad?
Once January comes, I'll deal with it. I've got more important things, winning football games is more important at the minute.
I know the lads haven't won many games but they should still have a squad good enough to win games and do better than what they're doing. That's important.
My job is to get them to maybe try and do different things and play in the way I think they should play. And that's what I intend to do. The most important thing is to win games.
Will any funds be made available to you in January?
I'm pretty sure myself and Marcus and everybody at Ipswich will have a talk come January. I'm pretty sure we'll look at that and hopefully add to the squad come January.
You’ve spoken to the players. What's morale like among the squad at the moment?
I only came in on Sunday with the lads and the group that trained were excellent, really, really good.
I spoke to the staff, everybody's really upbeat. I think if you came in the door, you wouldn't think the club is in the position it's in. My job is to change the whole feeling of that, the whole mood swing of it.
You don't get jobs when clubs are going great so you know there's something not going particularly well, and it's my job to try and rectify it.
How will the side be different against Preston from what the fans have seen previously?
People can say, ’It’s a new manager, we'll get one or two wins and we'll go back to normal'. That's normal when people think that way. My job is to try and keep it consistent.
We need everybody behind everybody. We need the staff, we need the players, we need the fans to be united. If we do that, as long as they see a team really fighting and playing a different way, they'll get right behind us.
Are there any injury updates or concerns ahead of Saturday?
There's one or two little knocks from last weekend. I'll see how they are come the rest of the week. We're going to need everybody.
You’ve had some tough jobs in recent years - how do you go about an instant repair job at Town?
There’s no secret in the game of football. You just try and win games and that keeps everybody pretty happy.
I think what we have to do here is create an atmosphere where we're going to have a lot of fun, we're going to try everything we can, and we're going to try and win games.
If we do that, we've got a great chance, it'll be a better place to come and work when the atmosphere's a lot more upbeat. We'll try and generate that, and if we do that, we've got half a chance.
Would you have come here had money not been available in January? The consensus among most fans is that the squad needs some serious help.
It needs some help. But money doesn't always guarantee you everything. It doesn't. It can give you problems as well.
We have to get the right players in here to help, there's no point in saying 'we've got X amount of money' and you go and spend it on lads that have not got the character and things like that.
We have to get the right type of player to come here first and foremost. We'll create an atmosphere here where it'll be a good place to be.
So much of your success at Norwich was with young, hungry players, developed from the lower leagues. Can you replicate that formula at Town?
I don't know. That was seven years ago, it's a long time and the league's got stronger than it was. The Norwich lads were brilliant, they gave me everything and they're the ones that deserve the plaudits.
I'll try and generate something here. That’s what I have to do. This is my club now and I'll do everything I can, 100 per cent, throw everything I've got at it. People that know me down this neck of the woods know that's exactly what I'll do.
Do you still rank your achievements at Norwich above everything else as a manager?
It's gone. It's seven years ago. This is my club and this is the one I want to really focus on, this is the one I want to drive at.
I want to have a lot of success here, and I'll give it absolutely everything I've got. Let's see what happens.
As the first boss to manage both Norwich and Ipswich, can you believe you're here?
Nothing surprises me in football. I'm proud to be here. I can't wait to get going, I really can't. I've got a group of lads who want to do well which is really important. I've got a club that wants to do well.
There’s a big support behind this football club as well. That's my main focus, Ipswich Town. I will do everything I can, I keep coming back to it.
I've done it at all the clubs I've been at, I've never once not given it everything I've got, and this one will be no different.
Do you feel under some pressure at Ipswich to achieve success in the long term?
I don't feel pressure. I've never felt pressure really in any game I've been in. There's different types, even as a player I never really felt it, and I played for some massive clubs so I know exactly how pressure goes.
I know exactly how management pressure goes. The game is all about players and supporters, that's what the game really is about. Without the two of them, you don't have a game.
I'll try and do what I can to help them, along with the staff and everybody. If I can get the spirit going and a tempo going, we'll be a good side.
How tough a job will survival be?
Every job is tough, whether you're Manchester City or United, Liverpool, every manager's got a challenge on their hands. It doesn't matter where a team is in the table, every job you go into, there's a challenge there.
I'm really looking forward to it, that's for sure. I'm not frightened by it, I'm really looking forward to it. I know it's a huge club, great history behind it, but we have to start somewhere.
You respect the club because of the great players that have been here, but we can't be compared to years gone by. We have to try and do our own little bit.
You respect the history because it's huge - the UEFA Cup, the great managers this club has had - but we have to have a start, or else we've no chance. We have to do it ourselves and if we do that, we'll do fine this year.
Did you see a lack of confidence in the performance at Millwall on Saturday?
It's not just Saturday's game, there's been a few games. That's normal when you're not winning, that can happen.
As I said to them the other day, forget what's happened in the past, you have to look to the future now and what's going to happen. I'm sure we'll see a different team.
Whether we win on Saturday, I don't know - nobody knows that - but I'm sure you'll see a different team.
How do you quantify the 'fun' element you want to introduce into the team?
You've got to make the place a happy place to come in, you've got to do that. You've got to make the lads want to come and enjoy football.
Whether they make mistakes or not is irrelevant. If they make mistakes, it's my fault, not their fault, because I'm telling them how to do it. Come in and enjoy football again, enjoy the game.
The crowds have been pretty low in recent years - is enthusiasm among supporters key?
Massive. Absolutely huge. This is a big supported football club, we have to get them on side. They're vital to us, to get behind us, I'm pretty sure we'll have a good crowd on Saturday, that's for sure.
What was your reaction when you first got the phone call from Marcus?
The same reaction I'd probably had from any other jobs that I've been into. It was great, no problem.
If you look at the amount of managers out of work, there's thousands out there that want jobs. I was fortunate that Marcus asked me to have a chat and I got on with him really well.
You've taken some tough jobs during your management career. What motivates you to take them?
I love the game of football. I've never come away from any club thinking 'I wish I'd never taken that'. Not once, because they've been great clubs and there's been good people I've met along the way as well, which is important.
When you meet good people then you stay in contact with a lot of good people. The clubs I've been at have been very good.
Based on past tough jobs, it appears you're not frightened to take on big challenges.
I've done it all my career. I won't change, that's the way I am. I have certain standards that I try and hit.
I've been not too bad success-wise, and I’ve had some failures. But as I said before, I don't want to be judged by success or failures. Judge now on what's going to happen.
What did you say to the players on Sunday when you met them for the first time?
I just gave them an outline of how I work, and what I expect from them as well. Not just the players, I spoke to the staff [coaches and off-field Playford Road staff], everybody.
To be fair, everybody's been great. This is my first real day with everybody and I'm really looking forward to it. Once I finish with you guys I'll get ready and go out.
Talking of your motivational approach, people are expecting you to sell some home truths, a few rockets. But you want to try and inject a bit of fun and tell people they’re good players?
There's a bit of both. I think management now has evolved. The game has evolved. There's a bit of both. You have to enjoy what you're doing, or else there's no point in doing it.
There'll be times where you have to tell people it's not good enough, but there's also times where you have to have that release of 'let's go and enjoy the game of football'. That's when you play well, when you enjoy it.
Are free agent signings a possibility in the short term?
I don't know, I'll have to judge what's here first. Even though the lads haven't won too many games, I'm not going to judge what's happened 15 games or so ago.
I have to judge with my own eyes now to see what's there, and if I think we need help, which I'm pretty sure we'll need a little bit of help in January. But you have to be fair to everybody at this moment in time.
Based on current league positions, how big are the next two games [at home to Preston in 20th and away at Reading in 22nd], and how much do you need the fans?
The next two games are huge. Every game is huge in the league, whether you're trying to get out of the league or stay in it, every game is massive.
As I said earlier, this is a big football club with a really good fanbase behind it. If they can not judge us by what's happened before, if they come and get right behind us, it'll be a brilliant atmosphere. And I'm pretty sure they will, I don't have any fear or trepidation that they're not going to come out and support their team. They will.
But we have to give them something as well, for 90, 95 minutes. They have to come to the stadium as well and enjoy their time, they pay a lot of money to come to the games, they pay money to come and see the team win. So when they're in that stadium, they can also have fun, they can enjoy it. But we have to give them something as well.
You wouldn't have taken the job if you didn't believe you could keep Town up?
No. I'm ready for it. I can't wait to get going.
Well if you're telling me that then that must be true! As I've said before, I haven't bothered with anything like that one bit. The most important thing is the here and now really.
We've got more or less a full week to prepare for the game on Saturday, and that's my main focal point. I know at the back of my mind, we need maybe a little bit of help come January, but I think the more important thing is to try and win on Saturday.
We know your coaching staff, but are there any changes planned among the scouting staff?
I haven't met a load of people, but I need to find out who does what and what's going on really. But everybody's been really good. As I said, the main focus is on this week and trying to get Saturday's win.
You’ll know the tradition of young players coming through at the club down the years. Are you a manager who gives young players a chance?
Well if you look at what I've done previously, if you're good enough, I'll throw you in. I don't have any fear whatsoever. If you're good enough and I think you can handle it, I'll throw you in. It doesn't matter to me.
I needed a manager myself to give me a chance when I was 15 at the time, and he gave me a chance. If I think you're good enough, I've definitely got no problem with throwing you in.
One of the hallmarks of your success at Norwich was dramatic finishes and late goals. Can Town fans expect the same?
I hope we don't need to score late goals. That means we're chasing the game. We have to go on the front foot, we have to play that tempo and intensity and we have to be on the front foot. I don't like slow football.
We'll have our own style that we'll try and play, if we can get late goals, but we have to keep going for 90, 95 minutes or whatever the game's going to last. As a team, we have to play on the front foot, that's for sure.
Can fans expect more exciting football?
I don't know what's happened before. As I said before, I'm not going to promise anything, but hopefully the lads will play the way I want them to play.
The squad lacks Championship experience. How important is having players who know the league in the fight against relegation?
There's a handful of lads here that have played a lot of games. As I've said before, we maybe need a little bit of help.
That's not to say the lads who haven't played in the division can't step up to the mark. I've done it before with a lot of lads. They always get told that they won't step up, then all of a sudden the lads do it and go and make a great career for themselves.
It all depends on the individual. If they're good enough before and I think they can go on and do it week in, week out, then I don't have a problem where they've come from.
The owner has talked about playing attacking football. Can that be done this year while battling relegation, or is it a longer term aim?
We have to win games, there's no doubt. And I don't play any other way. We try and go and win games, we'll try and compete with every team that we play against.
As long as we compete and as long as we're doing everything we can to win games then I can't ask for any more. I won't change my style of trying to play on the front foot.
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