Lambert: Huge Gap Between Sides But We Never Capitulated
Saturday, 27th Apr 2019 20:43
Town boss Paul Lambert admitted there was a huge gap between the Blues and all-but-promoted Sheffield United but was pleased his team never capitulated during their 2-0 defeat at Bramall Lane.
The win virtually guarantees the Blades Premier League football next season for the first time since 2007 with Leeds, who play Aston Villa tomorrow, needing results to go in their favour and an unlikely turnaround in goal difference to finish higher than their fellow Yorkshiremen.
“We hung in and hung in, we never capitulated,” Lambert reflected after the game. “I always knew it was going to be difficult with the atmosphere and them going for the promotion, so if Chris [Wilder] does it, congratulations to them.
“You can’t say anything other than to give them praise, they’ve had a fantastic season. Chris has done a great job. They’re a strong, strong side, the atmosphere in the stadium was great, but we never disgraced ourselves by capitulating.
“We’ve a lot of young lads, that will do them the world of good. I’ve just said them in there, ‘Remember this atmosphere. Hopefully in 12 months’ time you’ll get something like that’.”
Lambert felt the character his team showed against a rampant Blades team at a vibrant Bramall Lane was pleasing.
“It was,” he continued. “They’re entitled to have a lot of the ball because they’re the team they are. I thought they were the best team we played at Portman Road and my opinion’s not changed.
“I think they’re a really, really good side but we kept on at it and at it and everybody knows 1-0 is never enough.”
He says the scenes after the game whets his appetite for a successful Town campaign in League One next season.
“The young players have to bottle that up and make sure that they’ve got that next year,” he said.
“But I know this club is in a good place. You take your medicine at the minute, you rebuild it but Ipswich could be an absolutely fantastic place next year, that’s for sure.”
Promotion is the culmination of a number of years fighting back after several seasons in League One for the Blades.
“They were in League One for six years, that’s a long, long time,” he added. “You can just feel the stadium has moved, it’s had a lot of work done to it, the pitch was fabulous, everything about it is very, very good and the team has been maybe with each other for a few years. A lot of success here.”
Reflecting further on Town’s display, the Blues ended the game without any strikers with Will Keane having been forced off after eight minutes and Kayden Jackson in the second half.
“Will was really unfortunate and Kayden had some tightness and we couldn’t take a risk with Kayden so we had to bring him off and all of a sudden you’ve no strikers,” he said.
“But I can’t ask any more from the team, they gave me absolutely everything. To keep doing that, that’s all you can ask of people.”
Regarding Keane’s injury, he added: “It looks like [his hamstring again], it looks like the same sort of injury, maybe not as severe but it’s a hamstring, I think.”
Lambert hops Collin Quaner will be fit enough to play against Leeds: “Collin hopefully will be OK, we’ll see how he is, but I think he’ll be OK.
“And maybe Jon Nolan may be OK. I thought Flynn Downes did really well. I couldn’t ask any more, the effort was there.”
On Cole Skuse starting in a back three for the first time for Town, Lambert said: “I just think Cole’s a really good footballer and I think any position he can adapt to because he’s got a really good football brain and playing at the back, he’s comfortable with the ball, which we need in that aspect.
“I know he can do that role, I’ve never had problem with him, we worked on it during the week. He’s played that before, so it wasn’t new to him and I just felt him being as comfortable with the ball he could fit in there easily.”
He says he can see Skuse, now 33, playing that role again in the future: “I think he can, if we’re flexible, I know he can do it. That’s the beauty about him, I know he can play that role at the back because he is really comfortable with the ball.”
Lambert made no bones about the gulf between the teams: “You could see that, absolutely. I don’t think anybody should be deluded and say we’re near it, we’re not.
“We’ve not long come in, we have to rebuild the club. As I said before, this club, it feels really, really good and the way it’s going and it’s been a few years together, so it’s something we have to aspire to, the crowd has been really, really good with them, so this is what you want, this is the type of feeling you want yourself.”
He added: “It’s huge, we’ve got guys that are coming through the ranks of the football club. They haven’t been out on loan, OK, Flynn had a wee touch at Luton, Bish has not played much football, Myles Kenlock until last week played 17 games in a row for the first time in his career, that’s incredible.
“Toto’s first time [in the Championship], he’s getting better. There’s a lot of good things here but the gulf is really, really big.
“But effort-wise, I couldn’t ask any more. The lads gave me everything in their bodies. But we’ve got to start somewhere and, as I said before, it could be really, really good here.”
Next Sunday’s game at home to Leeds is now a dead rubber but Lambert wants to go out on a high note.
“It’s a massive game,” he said. “Obviously, depending on what happens tomorrow with Leeds and Aston Villa.
“It’s a huge game, a brilliant atmosphere and I’m looking forward to the game and looking forward to the break. I guess everybody is, our whole team, our whole club needs a break, supporters included.
“But again the supporters were brilliant. They come in numbers to watch is, they keep going and they keep going and I think them as well. We’ve got one more game and we’ll try and finish as strongly as we can.”
He says he has congratulated Chris Wilder on the Blades’ promotion: “Yes, I spoke to him before it as well and I’ll maybe see him before I go as long he’s not too busy.
“I’ve a lot of time for him, I think he’s done a fabulous job. He’s very humble, and congratulations to them if they do eventually get up.”
While the South Yorkshiremen are at the end of their journey, the Blues are at the start of theirs, Lambert added: “That’s it, and that’s what you aspire to, these seasons at the end of the day. As I said to the lads, ‘Just remember this because in 12 months you’ve got the chance to do it’.
“That’s the beauty of it, you’ve got the chance to have the feeling their lads are having. Don’t let that feeling go, that’s what you strive for.”
He says confirmation of relegation following the Birmingham game will have been difficult for the players to take.
“And they’re young as well, so they don’t know how to handle disappointment yet,” he reflected. “This has probably been the first major disappointment of their careers.
“There’s loads of factors, loads, disappointment with relegation, disappointment with the club going down, the older lads feel it as well, it’s the first time for some of them as well.
“It effects everybody and once it’s mathematically it’s done, that’s when reality creeps in. But again I can’t fault them. These have beaten better teams than us by four or five. But I can’t fault the lads for their effort.”
He says the earlier performances prior to that are those which should be taken into next season and been more typical of the Blues since he came to the club.
“Absolutely, that’s absolutely right,” he said. “We’ll come back and we’ll come out of the traps, that’s for sure. We’ll be fit, we’ll be ready to go. You can never guarantee anything but we’ll be ready to go, that’s for sure.”
He dismissed that the way today’s game went and the 4-0 Good Friday defeat at Preston might make him concerned ahead of next season.
“No, the good things make me excited,” he insisted. “But the Preston game, as I said before we’ve got a lot of young lads, they’ll love that, they’ll not feel it at the minute but the experience [will do them good].
“The great thing is, nobody was hiding from the ball and that was the beauty of it. It’s easy to hide when things aren’t going for you but the lads never hide and they keep taking the ball, which is great.”
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