Lambert: It's a Repair Job First and Foremost
Thursday, 3rd Jan 2019 19:07
Boss Paul Lambert wants to reduce the Blues’ reliance on loans, believing a club has to have its own players, as he carries out what he sees as a “repair job first and foremost” at Portman Road.
Former manager Mick McCarthy augmented his squad with a number of loan players each season, while his successor Paul Hurst had six - including Janoi Donacien whose move has now been confirmed as a long-term switch following the arrival of his permanent leave to remain - by the time August ended.
Lambert has admitted that he could potentially have even more than that by the end of January - with Will Keane expected to become the club’s fourth current loan signing from Hull City tomorrow - as he looks for a short-term fix which will dig Town out of relegation trouble.
However, he says he won’t just be eyeing the short-term with his January business, he will also be trying to look to longer term future.
“A bit of both,” he said. “The football club, it’s gone down the route of a lot of loans, some loans come in and all of a sudden they go away at the end of the season and the next ones come in.
“You can’t keep doing that, you have to have your own team of players here and maybe one or two loans, I get that, but not an influx, it’s very difficult to sustain that.
“As I said before, it’s a great club with great foundations there, it just needs to be dragged up, I think. And if we get everybody unified in it and everybody going the same way it could be brilliant.
“I was in the town yesterday, just walking through the town, the first time I’ve been in it, and I thought, ‘If you can get this place going, this could be absolutely brilliant’. One team in the town, and that's the beauty about it. And that gives it the power. If you get it right, it could be absolutely brilliant.”
While there has been a lot of talk about strengthening up front and the team being more clinical, Lambert says he is also aiming to tighten things up at the back with TWTD having reported that ex-loanee Cameron Carter-Vickers among the potential defensive recruits on the Town boss’s radar.
“We’re trying,” he added. “I gave the club what I thought was [where strengthening] was needed and it was virtually every area of the pitch.
“I thought we needed to be a bit stronger in all areas because I thought it was unbalanced and I still think it’s unbalanced until we get people in.
“I think the physicality of us, we’re not a big side at all. Millwall played to their strengths in the second half on Tuesday. We got caught up in that euphoria of the game, the emotion of the game.
“We had to play with the ball, use our strength and in the first half it was evident that we were very, very good with the ball. In the second half it became a fight and we tried to fight them at their own game.
“The second goal, it was never a freekick against Flynn Downes, never. Jordan Spence should have done better, he thought it came off one of their lads [and was going out for a goal-kick rather than a corner]. He should have done better in that.
“On the third one, I’ll debate because it was a really strong tackle. I see goalkeepers getting fouls for them and it’s just the tiniest little nudge from a corner. That was a full-blown tackle [on Dean Gerken].
“We have to be stronger but we don’t have massive height in the side, we don’t have massive physicality in the side.
“As I’ve said before, the midfield lads are young kids, their bodies are still developing into footballers.
“That’s where the club is at the minute. I can’t give somebody physical strength. You can’t do it. I can’t give the experience, that has to come from themselves as well.
“They can only get experience through games, but that’s where our football club is at the minute until they get a bit of a hand.”
Lambert has viewed the squad as unbalanced from the moment he came in at the end of October.
“I recognised right away where I thought it was unbalanced, I could see it, you could feel what was wrong,” he continued.
“I knew if anything happened to Cole Skuse [we didn’t have] a sitting midfielder, I had to convert Trevoh Chalobah and he’s done brilliant at it. But Cole was the one who gives you the experience in there, he sprays the ball around really, really well.
“I’ve said before, this club lost a helluva lot of players at the start of the season, they lost 60-odd goals out of it. The lad [Bersant] Celina, he created a lot of stuff here, the lad [Callum] Connolly who scored five goals.
“That’s a helluva lot of goals out of the side, and experienced lads that knew the league. That’s where I think it falls down.”
Town’s downfall against Millwall was individual defensive errors, as has been the case on plenty of occasions this season. Is there anything a manager can do to address that?
“As I said before, I absolutely love watching them play and some of the football we play and I think people have said, it’s the best they’ve seen here for a long time,” he said.
“OK, we’re not getting the results but I think some of the performances and the chances we’re creating have deserved [more].
“Individual errors happen but I’ve only been here just over two months. The improvement in the lads as footballers and as a team is vast and, as I said before, the atmosphere in the stadium is incredible considering where we are. I think everybody sees what we’re trying to do here.”
Lambert says the style of football will remain the same even with his January additions, including big frontman Keane.
“Yes, that’ll be my blueprint here, right through the club,” he insisted. “If I go away from it, this club will never move.
“In the long-term to bring back an identity to the club is the way I want to do it. I love it here, it’s a great club. It’s lost its way a little bit but the big thing is that the supporters have been brilliant. The atmosphere at the stadium is great.
“Everybody’s right behind it, everybody sees what we’re trying to do here with it. I think they know it’s probably a repair job first and foremost but at least we’re making the football exciting, that’s important.
"Hopefully it’ll be more exciting and you’ll fasten your seatbelt and we’ll get going.
"It doesn’t matter what type of player I play here, if people play my way, I’ll make them better players.”
While Tuesday was ultimately a disappointment, fans went through the full gamut of emotions with the Blues passing the ball around slickly in a first half in which they ought to have had the game won. Although leaving the ground frustrated by the result and Town’s league position, most felt they had witnessed an exciting and entertaining game.
“You’re right, I think people are coming to the stadium excited because of the way the football’s being played and the atmosphere it’s generating,” Lambert reflected.
“Once it turns, it’ll be unbelievable this, it’ll be brilliant. That’s the way I play, that’s how I want the team to play, the atmosphere as well, even the fans’ group [Blue Action] the other month, they were brilliant, it’s really important for this club to get everybody onside.
“Everybody’s been great since I’ve been here, they really have. We need a little bit of help, players to come in and help us, and even then it’s a massive rebuilding job here to get this club back to what it should be.
“It should be a stadium where the football is exciting and it’s vibrant and it’s at it every single time. The games I’ve been here, the fans have been absolutely brilliant for us.”
He says that first-half display against Millwall is a taste of things to come, not just at first-team level: “If we get our own team and are given a chance at it, then that’s the type of football we want to play.
“The way we play is well-documented, but I want the football club to be run like that right through the other levels, that’s what I want.
“Because if I don’t put a foundation in or I turn a blind eye to it, the club will never move and the structure will never be there.
"I want the U23s to play the same way as the first team, I want the U18s to play that way, right through, U16s, U15s, right down.
“And if you do that for the future it certainly helps. But if you keep on chopping and changing and chopping and changing and you never build it, and if I only concentrated on one aspect of the club then I think I’m going to look at failure and I don’t want to do that.”
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