Chambers: Strength of Championship Was Underestimated
Friday, 2nd Nov 2018 10:55
Town skipper Luke Chambers believes ex-boss Paul Hurst, who was sacked last week after just one win in 15 league and cup games during his 149 days in charge, may have underestimated the demands of Championship football.
Hurst was new to England’s second tier as a manager, having only narrowly failed to win promotion from League One for former club Shrewsbury last season before being unveiled as owner Marcus Evans’s choice to replace the departed Mick McCarthy.
Chambers said: “I think the strength of the Championship was a little underestimated from day one and I think that’s come home to roost a little bit now.
"We need to perform over the next however many games and get us to January when I’m sure the manager will have some ideas.”
Asked how the team went about beating the drop six years ago, when McCarthy took charge of a team rock-bottom with just seven points from 13 games, started with a 1-0 win at Birmingham and eventually amassed an impressive 60 points to finish six clear of the relegation zone.
“Just being harder to beat,” said Chambers. “You can play all the nice football in the world but when you concede sill goals from corners, free-kicks and throw-ins from day one, it doesn’t matter how many you score.
“We have to be more compact and do all the things you have to do in the Championship.”
Chambers recalled how he recently suggested to the players that they should forfeit their day off, adding: “It wasn’t so much me calling them in, it was more the fact that we played on a Wednesday at Leeds and we had another game on the Saturday [at Millwall] that was massive for us.
“I told the lads ‘If you feel it is the right decision to go home and just laze about then you do that’.
“But being the professionals and the characters that they are, they all knew it was better to come in and have a cool-down, have a massage, have a stretch, see the physios, do whatever they needed to do to make sure they were ready to go again.
“We didn’t need to be coming in on the Friday morning with a hangover – from losing, not from alcohol – and then getting on the bus and travelling again. We’ve had chats and we’re trying everything to get that winning formula.
“I’ve heard talk of bust-ups but there’s never been any bust-ups. We haven’t got characters in the dressing room that would ever second guess a manager and that kind of talk is beyond me. Don’t believe everything you read.”
His team-mates having answered the captain’s rallying call and making their way to the training ground the morning after the 3-0 defeat at Elland Road, they later became aware of Hurst’s sacking.
“We weren’t aware anything was going to happen,” Chambers said. “Then the news broke and it was ‘Here we go again’.”
Asked if he or any of the other players had been in contact with Hurst since he exited the club eight days ago, Chambers responded: “Yes, there will be lads that have spoken to him. It is what it is and it’s a difficult time. What do you say? There will be fingers pointed all over the place and that always happens in football.
“Everyone will have opinions and disagreements but you have to move on because the football club is bigger than us all.”
Did Evans call his captain and ask advice about his next choice of manager? Chambers said: “I think that had probably already been spoken about between him and whoever, but he did pick the phone up to me after the news had broken and put me in the picture about what he was planning to do moving forward.
“That was great to know but it was obviously my responsibility not to tell anyone and let things happen.
“Marcus and I don’t speak very often. We spoke in the summer when he told me his ideas of what he wanted to do with the club and then we’ve spoken now when things have changed again.
“He’s made his mind up about what was needed and he’ll be backing him [Paul Lambert] over the next few months and also in January, when I’m sure things will change a bit as well.”
One thing Chambers would relish tomorrow, apart from leading the side to a much-needed victory, is to repeat his famous after-match fist pump celebration in front of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
It has not happened so far this season, and only twice in 2018, and he admitted: “Saturday would be a very good time to do it again or I might pass the mantle on to someone else. We’ll see.”
Lambert’s arrival at the club with a new backroom team represents a fresh start for all the players and Chambers added: “It’s a chance for everyone I think. Opinions were obviously made on every player in the club, not just the first team, and this is a chance for everyone to show how good they are again.”
Asked if some players felt they were ostracised by Hurst, the skipper replied: “I don’t think you can say that in terms of the first team because we used nearly 30 players, so everyone’s had their opportunity.
“It’s not great, is it? You don’t use 30 players because that makes it very difficult to have any kind of continuity.
“I think maybe the young boys have not been treated in the way they should have been, but apart from that I think the lads have been treated pretty well. We’ve just not been able to get it right on the pitch.
“We can only look forward and try and forget what’s happened in the past because that’s not going to help us now. All that can help us is moving on.
“I think there are players who have been sent out to try and do the best for both them and the club, but a lot of them aren’t playing and sometimes aren’t even in the squad.”
Chambers referred to the situation regarding midfielder Tristan Nydam, who is at St Johnstone but rarely getting a look-in, adding: “It’s not ideal sending someone to Scotland and not seeing how he’s getting on. It’s a long way from Scotland to Ipswich.
“Tristan has been around the squad here for the last couple of years and has played quite a few games so I think opinions were made very quickly.
“We are where we are, we have the players we’ve got and I hope we see those boys again in January because I think they have a lot to offer the football club.
“We’re 15 games in and have just one win so I think some of them will definitely help us and we need all the help we can get.”
Finally, Chambers was asked if Hurst had sounded him out when things were clearly not working out. But he was reluctant to give anything away, only adding: “I don’t really want to go into it to be honest because it’s done. That chapter’s closed and we have to move on.
“Whatever happens in a football club should stay in a football club and that’s how we will move on from it.”
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