|Stoke City 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 8th December 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Lambert: We’re Not Far From Being a Right Top Side
Saturday, 8th Dec 2018 18:09
Boss Paul Lambert felt Town were the better team despite losing 2-0 at Stoke City and believes the Blues aren't far from being a “right top side” with new recruits set to be added during the January transfer window.
“I thought we were the better team, I really did,” he said. “Honestly, I’ve just said to them in there that I’m really proud of them, how we came here and dominated the game against a team that I think shouldn’t be far away from going up.
“There were two moments that hurt us but I’ve got a really young side but every one of the lads were brilliant. The way we came here and played with the ball was excellent.”
Town recorded more shots and more corners than Stoke and Lambert says there were plenty of positives to be taken from the display.
“I couldn’t ask any more than the way we came here and played,” he added. “If you look at Jack Lankester, Jack’s 18, Trevoh’s 19, Flynn’s 19, Andre’s 19, it’s not normal this situation.
“We certainly don’t look like a team that’s bottom of the table, but the result is the way it is, but performance-wise I thought we were excellent, really, really good.”
In recent weeks, defensive errors had been Town’s downfall but this time it was Stoke’s quality in and around the area which led to their goals.
“Joe Allen’s made a career out of it and he’s a terrific lad Joe, a really top player,” Lambert continued.
“Jack’s got beaten with the one-two. Jack’s only 18, so he’ll learn his game but I think Lankester is going to be a top, top player without a shadow of a doubt.
“He’s one of the best young ones I’ve seen in a long while and I think he’s going to be a really good one, but he got beaten by the one-two and Joe’s done it all his career.”
He says he believes Lankester has a big future ahead of him: “Absolutely I do, if he keeps his feet on the ground and he doesn’t get distracted, I think he’s going to be one helluva player, that’s for sure.”
Regarding dropping keeper Bartosz Bialkowski after his two errors in the last two games, he admitted it was a difficult decision to make.
“Really tough but I think mentally and physically needed a break from it,” the Blues boss said. “He’s hardly had a break since the World Cup and I think it was important to look after him as well. He’ll comeback stronger than ever.
“We had a chat yesterday and he was really professional with everything, no problem. Probably disappointed and it was a hard one but I just thought mentally and physically it was probably the right decision.
“Deano came in and did very, very well. Never really had many saves. But, as I said, the whole team, I can’t ask any more from the team.
“See the supporters, the supporters are right behind it. We need a little bit of help in January, when that comes in we’re going to be a right good side.”
He added: “I think the supporters can see how well we’re playing. I think that’s always your barometer of how well you’re playing and they’re right behind it.
“Honestly, we’re so close to being right top side. I know we need a little bit of help, I get all that, but we’re not far from being a right top side.”
Asked whether he’s concerned that the gap to safety is now eight points plus goal difference, he said: “I know the league. If you go on a little run and you catapult out of it. Where there’s all that light and hope we’ll always keep going because that’s our job.
“We certainly don’t look like a team at the bottom. This is not a normal situation. I’ve never experienced, the way we’re playing, it certainly doesn’t look like that. But no, we keep going, go to the next one and we’ll go and try and win that.”
Lambert was back at Stoke for the first time since leaving them in May after a short spell in charge during the second half of last season.
“I loved my time here,” he reflected when asked how he felt on his return. “It’s a brilliant club, great fanbase behind it, it was really from the supporters and even the lads, a lot of the lads as well, which was really kind.
“It’s a club that will always remain close because I had a really great time. We were that close, we were a penalty away from maybe staying up and Jack Butland [scored an own goal] at Leicester, he was brilliant for me. West Ham, I could throw a lot at you, Anfield, Ryan Shawcross had the chance at the back, little moments like that and we’d have stayed in the league.”
Stoke manager Gary Rowett was pleased with the win but not his team's performance and echoing comments made by a number of opposition bosses in recent weeks, said he doesn't expect the Blues to be bottom of the table for too long if they play as they did today.
“It was a good result, I think the positives are a clean sheet and two goals of really good quality," he said.
"Both the goals were excellent quality, probably the only quality that was shown for the majority of the game, but really good quality.
“And we’ve won a game that puts our recent run of form and run of points in a much better light, which we knew it would do today.
“What I have to say is that we didn’t play anywhere near as well as we need to. We didn’t show enough energy and enough composure and quality at times to really put the game to bed.
“I thought Ipswich were spirited, I thought Ipswich came and performed really well for Paul and you have to say if they keep playing like that then they’re certainly not going to be bottom of the league for long and with the run of form they’re in.
“But we have to be better and our standards have to be better than that. So, very pleased with the result, very pleased with won the game but disappointed with a lot of aspects of our play.
“We looked a bit leggy today and I’m not sure why, we’ll have to have a look at it. We certainly didn’t look as though we had the same zip about us or the same energy at times.”
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