Lambert: We Defended Fantastically
Saturday, 12th Jan 2019 18:08
Boss Paul Lambert paid tribute to his backline after they repelled a second-half Rotherham barrage to secure a crucial 1-0 victory over the Millers.
“Second half [I was relieved],” Lambert admitted. “In the first half, I thought we were very good, I thought we were really, really good. Really strong and wanted the ball.
“They made it difficult, in the second half I don’t think there were two passes strung together, just long balls and throw-ins and set plays but the pleasing thing is we defended fantastically.
“To an extent [it was all about the result] but I wanted to still play good football but the ball would never come down, it was never out of the air. Long balls, you’ve got to deal with that and I thought we dealt with it really, really well.”
He says his bigger, more physical side since his January additions have come in more than held their own.
“They did,” he added. “You can’t do anything when you come to a club in November. You’ve got to wait for the window to open and the lads have been great, but I just thought we needed a little bit of help and I thought James Collins and the other new lads were outstanding.”
Debutant Collins, skipper Chambers and Matthew Pennington, who moved out to right-back, all headed innumerable balls away during that second half onslaught.
“Really, really good,” Lambert enthused. “Collins, a massive compliment to him, he wanted to be here, which was great. I think he trained with West Ham a little bit and then to come and do what he did there was unbelievable, how he performed there.
“Even Will Keane, these lads [the new signings] have not played for a long time. [That was a factor in the second half], 100 per cent it was, I knew it would happen but we had to throw them in, we had to get players in to help.
“They’re not match fit, as I said on Thursday, Collin Quaner as well, they’ve not played much football those guys. But they’ll get fitter, they’ll get up to match speed. They’ve given everybody a lift.
“And when you hear the atmosphere, I tell you, I’d love to see this club when it’s sitting at the top end of the table, you’d not be able to get a ticket for this place.”
The Blues boss says skipper Chambers was fine after the game despite a nasty-looking fall over a perimeter gate into the stand in the first half and suffering another knock in the second.
“He’s alright, I never really worry about Luke, he’s always there and I trust him,” he said.
“I trust all the lads but Luke is there week in, week out, week in, week out and he’s been absolutely brilliant for me since I’ve been here.
“The older lads, the more experienced lads at the club, sometimes get overlooked, people just take them for granted at times.
“But him and Cole, Bart, Deano, the lads that I have inherited have been terrific. we’ve just tried to give them a bit of help with Collins, Quaner and Keane coming in, Callum Elder’s a young kid but I thought the lads needed a bit of help experience-wise.”
Regarding striker Keane getting off the mark with the winner, he added: “Brilliant. Will Keane’s a brilliant finisher. Even when I saw him when he was at Preston on loan.
“He’s had a great upbringing at Manchester United when they were at their best. He knows the game, he’s a really, really good finisher. I think anything that comes his way he’ll stick it in.”
Lambert explained switching his usual 4-3-3 system to 4-4-1-1: “I just thought we needed that physical presence, I knew the game was going to be that type of game, so I put Will just behind Collin. The first half I thought was excellent. In the second half we certainly needed that height.”
He says there’s a lot more to come from his team: “I’ve said this before, I think we’re playing really well. In the first half I thought we were really good, in the second half we withstood a helluva barrage of long balls and throw-ins. Their throw-ins were hitting virtually the six-yard box, it’s a really powerful weapon that they’ve got.
“Football-wise, in the second half we can do a lot better. In the first half we controlled the game. Even Cole Skuse, that’s Cole’s first game in a month, he’ll get better as well. Trevoh Chalobah missed last week too.
“A lot of lads are probably not a 100 per cent, it’s a big compliment to them because they were very good.”
With the January influx of five signings, Lambert reiterated that some of those on the fringes will probably move out.
“I think one or two will probably go on loan, which is right for them,” he said. “We needed help, there’s no other way I could have done it, the lads needed help as well. There are probably one or two that will probably go on loan.”
Quizzed on the Blues’ move for Brentford’s Alan Judge, which is understood to be ongoing although with the Republic of Ireland international not at the game as had been believed to be the case, Lambert was keeping a straight bat.
“I don’t know where that one’s come from,” he said. “I just woke up to that this morning. I know of the lad, a really good player. I just woke up to that this morning.
“We can’t do another loan. We’ll have six and if you have to manage six loans it’s too much. I don’t want to go down that road, having another loan because I think you’ve got to leave one lad out.”
Judge’s contract is up at the end of the season with the deal Town are believed to be targeting a permanent switch.
“Is it? Is that what they’re saying?” Lambert continued. “I don’t know. I didn’t really pay much attention to it because of the game. He’s a really good player, a really good player.”
Millers boss Paul Warne admitted he was left wondering how his side didn’t come away with at least a point.
“I am a little bit," he said. "That’s just how football is, isn’t it? I asked the lads to play on the tilt, give me everything they’ve got.
“I didn’t think we were quick enough in the first half, I didn’t think we caused enough problems in the first half, although we had a good chance to score."
Rotherham remain without a victory away from home this season with their winless run on their travels in the Championship now up to 39 games.
“It’s always difficult when you come away in the Championship," he admitted. "Every away game’s tough for us and we haven’t won away from home, regrettably.
“But I thought we played really well and I’ve got no complaints about the lads’ performance at all.
"Obviously we needed a bit of quality on a couple of occasions but generally they were pretty outstanding and they should be proud of what they tried to do for us, but unfortunately today it wasn’t enough.”
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