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O'Neill on Lambert Press Conference: We All Get Frustrated at Times
Thursday, 8th Aug 2019 18:11

General manager of football operations Lee O’Neill says manager Paul Lambert’s frustrated comments at his press conference last Friday weren’t anything he and owner Marcus Evans didn’t expect with the Blues having been unable to add to his squad in recent weeks.

Asked how Lambert expressing his annoyance at the speed that deals are done at Town and the lack of cash made available to him went down with the Portman Road management, O’Neill said: “As Paul’s come out and said, and as Marcus has said in his statement, I think we all get frustrated at times when we’d like things to move slightly quicker.

“I think from that point of view it was, yes it could have been argued it was frustrations, but I don’t think it was anything we didn’t expect.

“We had conversations with Paul through the week and he’s trying to get the squad ready for an upcoming season, which is going to be a hard season, we all know that.

"So I think there are one or two things he would like to happen, or he would like to make happen as quickly as possible.”

How is the relationship between owner and manager, do they understand one another, see where one another is coming from? “One hundred per cent. I’m very fortunate to sit in just about all the meetings with Marcus and Paul and they’re both very highly driven people and they both want to succeed.

“As Paul rightly said, they’ll have a difference of opinion on things at times, but it doesn’t mean it’s not for the benefit for the club and the wider community.

“I think it’s important that they do talk and do challenge each other, if you want, in various things. I think Paul will always want more investment in the squad and obviously want things to change infrastructurally. Marcus is trying very hard to try and deliver on those things.”

Quizzed further on one of Lambert’s complaints, deals not getting done, the manager having said he was after three permanent signings a fortnight ago, former academy scholar O’Neill added: “It’s not easy, first of all. It really isn’t. I think getting the balance between the players that want to come to play for Ipswich Town Football Club for the right reasons and want to play in League One.

“They’re incredibly difficult conversations with players when, as any player would do, they want to play at the highest level they possibly can.

“From the recruitment side of things that hasn’t been easy. We’re working through it, it’s not finished in any way shape or form, we’re working through and we’re trying to address those issues that Paul [mentioned].

“And it’s not just Paul, we’ve recognised and identified with Marcus and other parts of the club that we need to help the squad, so, yes, the transfer deadline ends today for some areas but it carries on for us, so we’re still working through those processes.”

O’Neill says Lambert is very much in the loop as transfers progress: “He’s involved in every conversation about players. There’s no point in us bringing a player to the football club who the manager doesn’t want to play or doesn’t want to be involved. I think that’s important for that system to work effectively.

“Obviously Marcus is a businessman and he understands the economic side of things and from my side of things it’s to make sure that when Marcus isn’t here that we can do those deals and get them to fruition, to the point where we can get them over the line.

“It’s got to work business-wise for the club in the long-term economics and also players-wise - do they actually want to come and play in League One?

“It’s a trianglular approach, we all work together. Yes, we’ll have differences of opinions on players but that’s the game and everyone’s unique in that process but we definitely try to get the deals done for Paul’s benefit.”

While it’s often assumed that finance is the stumbling block on deals, that’s not been the case at Town this summer.

“You’ll always have the money situation, that’s always there but a player’s ambition playing in [a division], whether that be the Premier League or the Championship,” O'Neill continued.

“When you ask any player they want to play in the highest league possible to achieve whatever they can be.

“The pull of playing in League One isn’t as appealing necessarily as playing in the Championship, so from a player’s perspective you have to understand that.

“But at the same time you want players that want to come and try and achieve something with us. I want players, and Paul wants players, and Marcus wants players that are going to help drive the club forward.”

It can also be difficult persuading a player to come in if they can’t see an immediate way into the team.

“There is no guarantee, the manager makes that decision on who plays and there are no guarantees on any player that they’ll be playing every week,” O’Neill said.

“It’s up to them to convince the manager that they are worthy of their place in the starting line-up.

“As I explained when you look at loan players coming in, there are things in and around contracts where they want guarantees and you can’t guarantee anything in football, they’ve got to prove themselves.

“Sometimes that is added into the equation but at the end of the day if a player backs himself and performs in training he’ll get into the team.”

He added: “I think sometimes we get to a point where it’s about playing in the best league they possibly can play in and that’s the decision at the end of it.

“Finances, very rarely, we’ve been matching most of the deals that go on, it’s sometimes aspirations for a player, that’s what happens.”

One player who opted against moving to the Blues, Danny Mayor, decided against the switch for other reasons, preferring a reunion with his former Bury boss Ryan Lowe at League Two Plymouth having been at Portman Road for talks.

“I’m not going to comment on Danny’s individual situation or anyone’s individual situation,” O’Neill said.

“I’ll just reiterate the point really, any player that comes in here, there are no guarantees, first of all they’ve got to prove themselves to the manager that they’re ready to play and the second thing is that they’ve got to want to play in League One to get us out of League One.

“Any player, that’s the same for current first team players and loan players or new players coming in.”

Is there money available to add to the squad? “Marcus has already said that investment is important so we’re looking into all those options and Marcus has said we’ll try to make investment available where possible.

“But, as I said, it’s got to be the right deal for the football club as well people coming into League One, and not paying over the odds for those players, bearing in mind that hopefully, if we do get promoted, we’ve got the longer sustainability of a squad able to compete in the Championship if we’re lucky enough to get promoted.

“There’s lots of different factors involved in that situation, it’s not just about throwing loads of money at it really quickly for a quick fix, we’re looking at building a squad over a longer period of time.”

Asked why has none of the sell-on cash from the moves of Tyrone Mings, Matt Clarke, Adam Webster and Kieffer Moore, estimated to be around the £3 million mark, has gone to Lambert, O'Neill responded: “You need to read Marcus’s comments yesterday really.

"Those deals might come across as a lot of investment coming in really quickly, but when you look behind the situation it doesn’t happen that way, it happens over a long period of time. That money isn’t necessarily available at this moment in time to go out and reinvest and spend.”

O’Neill and Evans agree with Lambert that the club shouldn’t go down the route of having too many loan players.

“We would agree with that, we’ve done that over a number of years,” he reflected. “I think to get the balance right you have to consider both options to get the quality of player that we need, possibly on the short-term contract to allow us to get to the next stage.

“I don’t think it’s something we can’t just write-off and say we’ll never have loan players, I think we have to look at what’s coming through underneath, what we’ve got available, what we’ve got with injuries. There are loads of different situations we have to be aware of.

“Arguably, and we have to agree with Paul on that situation, you don’t want a team full of loans because you’re investing in other people’s players but at times they are part of the squad and they do contribute to the team going forward.”

He added: “You look at a lot of these loan deals when the players come to the football club, the reason why they’re going out on loan is to play football matches.

“So, if they’re not, there are large fees involved for those types of thing. But we have a lot of injuries coming back, so the squad, hopefully, in the next few weeks will look a lot healthier with some of the injured players coming back.”

He says the club is continuing to work on adding to the squad: “We’re working through it. It’s been a busy summer in general, not just today, it’s been a busy summer in general and we’re working incredibly hard to try and get the right deals for the football club.

“It’s not just now all of a sudden panicking, it’s something we’ve been working on for a while. We hope to get them in as soon as we possibly can.”

O’Neill says he’s confident there will be signings before the deadline on September 2nd: “I’m confident we can do what is best for the football club. Everyone just has to be patient with that process.

“There are a lot of negotiations and, going back to the point I made earlier on, any player that comes to the football club has got to want to play for Ipswich Town Football Club, not just fill a gap for a short period of time.”

O’Neill reiterated that the aim is to get out of League One at the first attempt but warns that it might take longer.

“Certainly the ambition to try and get back into the Championship as quickly as possible and that is our aim and our objective.

“However, we have to be realistic with everything that we have and Marcus has commented on that, with the players that we have and the longer-term contracts and the younger players that we’ve got, it might take a bit of time.

“It’s up to the club and everyone around it to be patient with that but we want to win football games and we want to be at the top of the league and we want to be competing for promotion and we want to go on a good cup run. We want to do all those things.

“There is no one at the football club who is sitting back and thinking that mid-table or lower table is acceptable, that’s not what we want. We want to drive forward.”

Meanwhile, former Blues loanee Matthew Pennington joined Hull City on loan on deadline day, while Trevoh Chalobah signed a new Chelsea contract, which runs to 2022, before joining Huddersfield on loan.

Another of last season's loanees, James Bree, has joined Luton, also on a season-long loan.

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Dissboyitfc added 18:23 - Aug 8
A very sensible approach, had enough mercenaries down the years!

borat_the_blue added 18:27 - Aug 8
Adds to the frustration when you sell a decent striker to a rival and then actively look for someone in same position on loan.

Would never expect millions to be spent. Possibly 750,000 max on two players would do me.

Not what the fans deserve O'Neil and Evans.

BlueArrow added 18:28 - Aug 8
So what do you actually put on your daily time sheets Mr O'Neil

BeattiesBackPocket added 18:29 - Aug 8
I agree with most of this tbh. But Unless your a player supporting, or with an affinity with a certain club what reasons do you look at joining a club? Ambition and yeah wages. So if in the past we havent competed wages wise and in turn then showing a lack of ambition by selling our best players or players leaving due to being able to get better wages and them feeling another club has more ambition why on earth would they want to play for us. A club has to show ambition and be willing to pay for the better players to get them let’s be honest we’d all be off for more money in our jobs that’s obvious. It’s a two way street I’m afraid and we’ve been found wanting in this department now for six years.

multiplescoregasms added 18:41 - Aug 8
I am not knocking anyone, but if PL hadn't have said what he did last week, would Evans or O'Neill have come out with any sort of comment?

Suffolkboy added 18:47 - Aug 8
I’ve said before , and don’t hesitate to repeat again - L O’N is real quality and we should respect everything he has to say AND the manner in which he couches his response and general communication .
My only concern , and it probably goes back to M E , is that it sometimes pays dividends to get in first , declare your hand and in our case tackle publicly the frustrations generally admitted .
Both O’ N and ME have sensibly addressed the concerns , but LO’N has been much clearer in several aspects : of course that may be because he feels on more certain ground ( ME having shown his hand ,as it were ) but there is little doubt we are heading in the right direction ..Greater co- ordination and sensibility will come .Overall , despite some failings, I feel a sense of joined up thinking and a coming together of a potentially extremely strong management team !

blueplumber added 19:03 - Aug 8
makes me laugh how we are now struggling to get players as we are in league 1....
Last year we wasn't?
Also lost a player to league 2 ???
Is it we are not in the market and just excuses?

warktheline added 19:03 - Aug 8
Everything is always incredibly difficult obtaining players with Evans involved, unless of course the players involved are cast offs, has-beens, journeymen or sick notes! Non stop smoke screens! Truth is Lambert has been sold down the river, and as stated yesterday, judge the manager on the ‘hand’ dealt to him by our disconnected and disinterested owner! The slide will continue!

warktheline added 19:12 - Aug 8
Oh and of course free!

rabbit added 19:12 - Aug 8
BBP, as always you make some very interesting points, fair play to you, however on your post in the article produced by ME you make highly relevant points that I have searched everywhere for but can't find.
Help me out on this one, firstly you say the ITFC budget was bottom three last season, I can't find any info on either our specific budget or other teams where can I find this info? you also say that ME charges interest on the debt but I can't find anything in the accounts to show this or that he is paid £500k pa by ITFC, are these in the notes or somewhere else in the balance sheet?
You also have info on the current wage budgets in league one which proves ITFC are in the bottom third, whee can I find this info please.

Carberry added 19:24 - Aug 8
There are three significant points here. Firstly, 'I’m very fortunate to sit in just about all the meetings with Marcus and Paul', says to me he is just an observer. After all he's an inexperienced academy administrator who is finding his way in a dysfunctional organisation. Secondly, regarding Lambert, 'He's involved in every conversation about players', which belies the fact that he often pleads ignorance about individual transfer situations. Thirdly, the argument that sell-on money isn't available straight away, well neither are transfer payments, they are staggered too. So again, more lies and more BS to cover the mismanagement of our once great club.

runningout added 19:32 - Aug 8
I’m afraid O’Neill and Evans don’t come across as if they know much about professional football. They are responsible for employing Hurst! I could see it was a big booboo and I am more clueless

Bluearmy_81 added 19:40 - Aug 8
Lambert forced ME into his latest PR outing. Would he have spoken if not pretty much forced to defend himself?!! And so many of you lapped it up, at times I want to weep at your gullibility!!

LonE17Blue added 19:41 - Aug 8
All very sad, very boring and predictable. Trust is dead! Bulls**t still alive for the gullible readers and posters.

Dozzells_Bobblehat added 19:49 - Aug 8
Bluebarmy81- you just make me weep full stop .
Carberry - talk about twisting an article ! Or as some of you like to say " spin"

braveblue added 19:51 - Aug 8
Waffle. Waste of a salary.

brittaniaman added 19:57 - Aug 8
I see that the Cut Price striker we sold scored 2 goals last night against Birmingham ??

ernie added 20:02 - Aug 8
Step 1 - Lambert complains about lack of transfer activity and his hands being tied

Step 2- Lambert says fans need to hear more from Evans directly about what's going on

Step 3 - Evans sticks his neck above the parapet for its annual trip- says nothing already not known.

End result- gullible/apathetic fans revelling in mediocrity happy

ITFCsince73 added 20:24 - Aug 8
It really does beggar belief, that we continued to play loan players right upto the end.
There all alright now jack, going off to Huddersfield, Luton town etc.
Where as we are left with a whole crop of players who could have had important game time.
But was either sitting on the bench or out the 18 altogether.
These players we now expect to perform from the off....and be a big part of the match day squad.

midastouch added 20:26 - Aug 8
Transfers sometimes do seem to drag on rather long at ITFC. I don't know if that's the sign of the times in that it's getting ever more complicated to sign players in the modern age. But we're not trying to sign the likes of Neymar where you have all the other associated nonsense which has to be taken care of like image rights. I don't know if I'm off the mark but it seems we have more than our fair share of potential transfer deals rumbling on longer than you'd expect. Just like I think we could improve our injury record, I think there is room for improvement with out transfer negotiations. Evans is a business man so probably likes to drive a hard bargain (and no harm in doing your best to get a good deal) but in his other businesses he might have more leverage for the markets he is involved, where as in football when you have a half-decent player it's usually more of a seller's market rather than a buyer's market. Football agents are almost like estate agents, paid a lot for not a lot! When an estate agent values a home they simply look on Right Move and the Land Registry and see what other houses have gone for in the area and use that as a benchmark. Football agents are no different, they look at what other players have gone for to other rival teams at a similar level and what wages they are on and then use that as a benchmark for negotiations. If you want to compete you have to pay what your rivals are paying. Just like in business and industry if somebody has a decent market value they might be headhunted by a rival firm and tempted away by an offer of extra money. Footballers have relatively short careers and not all of them are earning enough in one or two seasons to last them forever, so when seeking a move elsewhere it's not usually the training facilities or history of the club that will be key in getting the deal over the line, but rather the money on offer! We'd love to think our club has more leverage than some others due to our history. However prospective players don't have anything like the emotional attachment we have for our own team, and usually it's the money that one club can offer over another that will swing the deal.

ITFCsince73 added 20:29 - Aug 8
As I said when the Harrison transfer happened.
Pompey got a bargain.
A striker who is proven in L1, with the added 12 month experience of Championship football.
£450k....I bet Evans and O’Neil would buy him back tomorrow.
Strange and odd decision.

Bluearmy_81 added 20:37 - Aug 8
Midas, your posts are too long, no one reads them all mate. Try to be more succinct. Just some friendly advice

midastouch added 20:39 - Aug 8
@ ITFCsince73, I think we definitely let Harrison go too cheap. Apparently Lambert didn't want him for whatever reason though, see here:
Harrison scores for Portsmouth by J2BLUE 6 Aug 2019 20:17
Looking lively.

Even so, seemed we let him go too cheap. I'm always uneasy about selling players to rivals. Hopefully this one doesn't bite us on the bum with Pompey pipping us to automatic by 1 point with Harrison getting 20+ goals this season, that really would sting! One thing I can say about Pompey (and I realise it's still very early days), Harrison or not, at least we've got 3 more points on the board than they have as it stands! :-)

midastouch added 20:42 - Aug 8
@ Bluearmy_81 some of us keyboard warriors can touch type! That's why I can spray out a lot of gobbledygook. I do realise I might need to work on quality over quantity, point taken.
That said, somebody must read them as I get my share of thumbs up and thumbs down. And what I wrote was a lot shorter than what O'Neill had to say although I do realise what he has to say will be of a lot more interest and significance than my ramblings! :-)

midastouch added 20:47 - Aug 8
And if you think my posts are long, remember the user Mickzzzzzzzzzzztactics????? Whatever happened to him? He was a right character), another one that seems to have sailed into the ITFC wilderness. I think when Mick finally left he felt like it was mission accomplished and hence whey he's gone all quiet since.

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