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Lambert: It's Turning, We Just Have to Keep the Form Going
Thursday, 13th Dec 2018 18:14

Boss Paul Lambert is confident Town's fortunes will change if they maintain their recent performances as they prepare to face Wigan Athletic at Portman Road on Saturday.

The Blues go into the match bottom of the table, eight points plus goal difference from safety, with the Latics, last season’s League One champions, 16th, 14 points ahead of them.

Despite yet to record a victory since he took charge, Lambert has been pleased with his team's displays.

Asked whether Saturday’s match was a must-win game, Lambert countered: “If I was here at the start of the season and you’d asked me that I would have given you the same answer, every game’s a must-win.

“I’ve never played any game when it’s never a must-win, it doesn't matter whether it’s in August or whenever it may be, whether it’s the start of the season, you have to try and win games and this one is no different than when Ipswich played their first game of the season.”

Regarding Wigan, Lambert added: “They’ve done well. It’s a difficult game. But we’ll be at home and we’re playing well. That’s the thing that we’ve got.

“If we keep the form going, it’s turning, we just have to keep doing what we’re doing and let’s see what happens.”

Wigan boss Paul Cook isn’t someone overly familiar to the Blues manager: “I don’t really know Paul that well, I’ve met him a couple of times and he seems to have done a good job but I’m more focused on us and what we’re going to do.”

If Town are to end an eight-month wait for what would be only their third home win of 2018, they will need the backing of their fans, something Lambert says they have given his team during his seven games following his appointment late in October.

“Since I’ve been here they’ve always been there, they’ve always been right on it,” he said. “I can’t ask any more of them. They’ve been absolutely brilliant for me right from the off.

“I think they’ve enjoyed the football, I think they enjoy everything that we’re trying to do.

"They’re not silly, they know exactly what we need as well, they know what’s happened throughout the course of the season, they know what’s happened in the summer, they know.

“I know they will be [behind us on Saturday] because they’ve been excellent for me and I can’t thank them enough for the support they’ve given and I know they’ll turn up and they’ll get right behind us.”

Lambert is unlikely to stray too far from the team which impressed him at Stoke despite the 2-0 defeat.

That would see Dean Gerken continue in goal with skipper Luke Chambers and Matthew Pennington the centre-halves and Jordan Spence and Jonas Knudsen the full-backs.

In midfield, Trevoh Chalobah will continue in the deeper role in Cole Skuse’s absence with Jon Nolan and Flynn Downes - or alternatively Teddy Bishop - ahead of him.

Freddie Sears will be on the left, Jack Lankester - who will be making his full home debut - on the right and Jordan Roberts - or perhaps Ellis Harrison - the central striker.

Wigan have winger Gavin Massey available again after a hamstring injury, although manager Cook is in no hurry to rush the former Colchester man back into his starting XI.

"We've got to be careful with Gavin," he told iFollow Latics. "He's been out for some time now, but he's a strong lad and has always been one of our fittest players, so his early return comes as no surprise.

"He played 45 minutes on Tuesday and he'll be on included on the bench for Ipswich that's for sure.”

Regarding other injuries, he added: "We've had more encouraging news as well this week with Michael Jacobs [hamstring] back out on the grass and Chey Dunkley making good progress from his knee injury, but Antonee Robinson [ankle] is going to be out until February."

Kal Naismith is suspended having been red-carded in last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to Derby County.

Nick Powell, a Town target during Paul Jewell’s time as boss, is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Cook says his squad will be travelling to Suffolk first thing on Friday: "We're just at that crucial stage now approaching the middle of December. There's still so much football to be played before January and points in the division are so tough to get.

"We just want to focus on Ipswich for now. We're going to travel down early in the morning and train down there. We want to do our best to win on Saturday and put ourselves in a very good position in the league by the time we play Birmingham City back at the DW."

Reflecting on Town's season, he added: "Paul Hurst went in there at the start of the season and the results didn't go as well as people there wanted in the amount of time he was given.

"They've turned to a very experienced manager in Paul Lambert now. He's got a great CV of managing and success.

"You can see Paul's commitment, passion and desire on the sidelines, he wants to win games and it's there for all to see.

"He's had a lot of success and he conducts himself very well like a lot of the best managers.

"It's a great opportunity for Paul, not many get to manage Norwich and Ipswich do they?

"They will see this game as a very important game that's for sure. In the position they're in it's so difficult. It's scary how rarely teams get two or three victories in a row in this league.

"Saturday's a bigger game for Ipswich than it us for us, but there's no denying we'll be right up for it. If we win at Ipswich it will put us in a very healthy position in the league."

The teams last met at Portman Road in April 2017 when Sears scored twice and David McGoldrick once as Town eased their relegation concerns by beating doomed Wigan Athletic 3-0.

McGoldrick put the Blues in front in the 22nd minute, Sears made it 2-0 on the half hour and then sealed the three points five minutes from time.

In the preceding December, McGoldrick netted an 88th minute winner as the Blues beat the Latics 3-2 at the DW Stadium in what was a rollercoaster game.

Brett Pitman put Town in front from the penalty spot in the seventh minute before Yanic Wildschut scored two goals either side of the break to give the Latics the lead.

But Pitman’s second of the game and then sub McGoldrick’s header won the points for the Blues.

Overall, Town have beaten the Latics five times (four in the league), have lost six times (five) and the teams have drawn once in the league and one League Cup tie. The Blues have won three of the last four league games between the sides.

Wigan have won only once away this season, at Stoke in August, having drawn one and lost their other eight games on their travels.

They made a strong start to the campaign, hitting fifth at one point, but have won one in their last eight and two in their last 12.

Currently injured Blues midfielder Emyr Huws was with the Latics between the summers of 2014 and 2016, initially on loan, but made only 15 starts and one sub appearance without scoring.

Town keeper Bartosz Bialkowski had a trial with Wigan as a teenager prior to joining Southampton.

Blues club secretary Stuart Hayton is a Wigan fan who worked at the Latics for more than 20 years.

Ex-Town winger Gary Roberts, now 34, followed manager Cook to Wigan from Portsmouth in August 2017.

Roberts joined the Blues from Accrington Stanley, initially on loan, in October 2006 and made 45 starts and 14 sub appearances, scoring four goals before moving on to Huddersfield in July 2018.

Midfielder Callum Connolly, 21, is on loan with the Latics from Everton having been with Town on a similar basis last season when he made 30 starts and five sub appearances, scoring four goals.

Striker Joe Garner moved to the Latics for £1.25 million on the final day of the transfer window having joined the Blues the previous summer from Rangers and making 29 starts and three sub appearances, scoring 10 goals.

Former Town defender Alex Bruce signed for Wigan on a free transfer in the summer of 2017 having spent time on loan with the Latics the previous season.

Bruce, 34, who has made one appearance this season, in the Carabao Cup, made 123 starts and four sub appearances for Town in four years from August 2006.

Ex-Blues boss Joe Royle was recently appointed a director of the Latics following their takeover, while his son, Darren, is the club’s executive chairman.

Wigan goalkeeper-coach Nick Colgan was with Town between January and July 2008 without making a first-team appearance.

Saturday’s referee is Scott Duncan from Northumberland, who has shown 58 yellow cards and five red in 17 games so far this season.

Duncan’s last Town game was the 2-0 defeat at Derby in August in which he booked Skuse and Toto Nsiala as well as two Rams.

He was also in charge of the 1-0 pre-season friendly victory at the MK Dons and the 1-0 win at Preston in February in which he booked Skuse, Martyn Waghorn, Garner and one Lilywhite.

Duncan, who shares a name with a former Town manager, was also in control of the Blues’ visit to Pride Park last season when, during the 1-0 win, he booked Chambers, Adam Webster and Downes as well as three Rams.

Before that he was the man in the middle for the 1-1 home draw with Brentford in March last year in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.

Prior to that Duncan refereed the 3-0 away win at Charlton in November 2015 in which he booked two Addicks and no Blues.

He also took control of the Blues in the 4-1 after-extra-time win at Doncaster in the Capital One Cup in August of the same year in which he booked Myles Kenlock and two home players, and was also the man in the middle of the 1-1 home draw with Brentford the previous season and the November 2013 1-0 victory over Charlton at The Valley.

Squad from: Gerken, Bialkowski, Spence, Knudsen, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Pennington, Nsiala, Donacien, Chalobah, Downes, Dozzell, Nolan, Bishop, Edwards, Ward, Lankester, Rowe, Roberts, Sears, Jackson, Harrison.

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NSL added 18:36 - Dec 13
I hope the form doesn’t keep going!

ITFCsince73 added 18:45 - Dec 13
Sticking with the same back 4 is suicidal. Defensive Skusey missing through injury.
I’ll be shocked if 3 points are taken from Wigan. Same back 4, Skuse out. = Struggle.

Lathers added 19:08 - Dec 13
F8ck me Paul. 10/10 for your positivity. Wigan at home, very much 3 points in seasons gone by, but my positivity is probably 3/10 atm, but then I’m not getting paid to manage the once mighty Town. But like PL says, lets keep our good form going and we might lose 1-0 rather than 2-0. Sometimes I wish he would just be honest and stop pandering to the players.... because it isn’t working Paul.

cornishnick added 19:55 - Dec 13
This will be my annual pilgrimage up from Cornwall. So come on guys, do me proud!

TimmyH added 20:21 - Dec 13
What's turning?...if it is it's dam taking it's time, the similarities with the Titanic are obvious!

guentchev added 20:26 - Dec 13
We are in the worst run of form in my living memory...we don't want this to continue....

And as for the 3 points....this is clearly a must-win. We are literally sinking without a trace at the moment.....

ITFCsince73 added 20:44 - Dec 13
Playing with our current back 4, will take a miracle to beat the mighty Wigan. Just hoping the Wigan squad are holding there Xmas do tomorrow night and still dancing on tables come 3am Saturday morning.

blueboy1981 added 21:03 - Dec 13
If we go down, which has to be said looks highly likely - the important thing is for PL to stay.

With him at the helm, we will bounce back to former levels - and beyond that.

Never fear, if PL is here - a proper Manager who knows what he's doing.

Taricco_Fan added 21:07 - Dec 13

blueboy1981 added 21:08 - Dec 13
Be fair people - What can he do more, than be POSITIVE at this time ?.

I know - change that back four -wouldn't be too much of a gamble would it ? - I don't think too much criticism would be forthcoming in doing so.

BlueandTruesince82 added 21:14 - Dec 13
Can we get Stumpy in to explain to our strikers what the rectangular Shaped thing with the netting is?

ITFCsince73 added 21:45 - Dec 13
I believe Paul Lambert is the best thing to have happened to the club since MM walked long as he stays our fortunes will change. A manager with massive contacts. A manager who is capable of creating a squad that plays football correctly. A manager that is capable of achieving the above, under a ME type budget. Weather we stay up or go down. Paul Lambert is key. But sticking with current back four is odd to say the least. We have better right backs in our youth squads for a quick fix as an example. Just shocking standard. That we knew of course when we sent him packing after trial. Mick are you sure!! It was a wind up yeh?

ITFCsince73 added 22:39 - Dec 13
Tariccofan. Yes, as in making four passes without losing the must continue.

dirtydingusmagee added 22:53 - Dec 13
the moaners ,are starting to get bored, it was only a matter of time .Lambert inherited a complete and utter shambles, left by Hurst and has not got the magic wand some expected him to wave. Bloody hell ,get real , apart from yourselves of course who could do more than Lambert is doing to save us .

PaulHurstITFCLegend added 01:52 - Dec 14
wish people would stop moaning and blaming Hurst for everything that has gone wrong at the club. Key decisions had already been made on a number of players contracts prior to his arrival.Crowe, Carayol, Bru and Hyam could all improve this squad. He clearly made mistakes but he isn't the only reason we are in this mess.

TonyHumesIpswich added 03:00 - Dec 14
PL is the best thing to have happened to ITFC since MM left and a shame he couldn't have taken over directly. PL did inherit a shambles and it is going to take ions to sort it out. Was looking at released and sold squad vrs our present squad and shows the difference.

Released/returned Loan/Sold XI
Iorfa, Carter-Vickers, Webster, Connolly
Bru, Hyam, Celina
Garner, Waghorn
Subs: Hayes, Carayol, Gleeson, Goteni, Blanchfield, Patterson, Knight

could see this side beating us easily: shows how much we have lost.

dirtydingusmagee added 08:09 - Dec 14
PaulHurstITFCLegend ?............that says it all really ,ITFCundertaker more fitting .

Dissboyitfc added 08:45 - Dec 14
tonyhumes with the exception of perhaps Crowe( never saw him play) waghorn and garner and possibly webster, although Wolfie i think is as good as webster and should never have gone out on loan! the others you mention were either loans or not good enough or both. Bru Hyam Gleeson Iorfa you are having a laugh, surely? McGoldrick hardly ever featured and was always injured. Carter-Vickers was great as was Celina, but were never going to stay!

I can see PL getting in some quality loans!

Dissboyitfc added 08:45 - Dec 14
tonyhumes with the exception of perhaps Crowe( never saw him play) waghorn and garner and possibly webster, although Wolfie i think is as good as webster and should never have gone out on loan! the others you mention were either loans or not good enough or both. Bru Hyam Gleeson Iorfa you are having a laugh, surely? McGoldrick hardly ever featured and was always injured. Carter-Vickers was great as was Celina, but were never going to stay!

I can see PL getting in some quality loans!

Swn98 added 09:18 - Dec 14
TimmyH i thought this was what you wished for!!
compliments of the season to you.

Swn98 added 09:20 - Dec 14
blueboy1981 i think he has already said he will stay whatever happens this season.

Razor added 10:50 - Dec 14
Crikey---if ever there was a must win game this is it!

Possible excuses for last 2 games with resources of teams etc but nowhere to hide tomorrow.

If we do lose again then all this great positive talk from PL will begin to look a little shallow and the spotlight will be firmly on him-----thats football!!

ChrisFelix added 12:41 - Dec 14
Most of our home games have been 'must win'.
These are rapidly running out. We haven't had the best of luck, Norwichs winner proves the oposite.
If this is done to bad luck if suspect one win will result in 4 or 5.
However time will tell

Barty added 15:35 - Dec 14
If we can win the next 10 games I might say that we have a chance of staying up

blueboy1981 added 15:41 - Dec 14
Swn98 ........ I'm surprised you are backing PL - about as far in the opposite direction of your messiah, as a Manager could ever be...... !!!

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