|Bolton Wanderers 0 v 5 Ipswich Town|
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Saturday, 24th August 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Lambert: We Must Show Right Attitude and Mentality at Bolton
Friday, 23rd Aug 2019 13:00
Blues boss Paul Lambert warns that his Town side will have to go into Saturday’s game away against crisis club Bolton Wanderers with the right attitude and mentality if they’re to claim what’s a widely anticipated second victory on the road this season. He also pointed out that while much has been made of the youth of the Trotters’ squad, the Blues also have more than their fair share of youngsters playing week in, week out.
Bolton are currently second-bottom of League One having been given a 12-point deduction for going into administration.
They climbed one point ahead of Bury, also hit by a 12-point deduction and yet to play a game this season, by drawing 0-0 at home to Coventry in their second league fixture of the campaign a fortnight ago.
They were beaten 2-0 at Wycombe on the opening day and followed a 5-2 Carabao Cup loss with a 5-0 hammering at Tranmere last weekend.
Tuesday’s game at home to Doncaster was called off by the club's joint-administrator Paul Appleton due to welfare concerns regarding the club’s young players, with only three senior players fit. The move is set to lead to a further points deduction.
Manager Phil Parkinson and his assistant Steve Parkin left the club earlier in the week having handed in their resignations and Jimmy Phillips, the Trotters’ academy manager, has been put in temporary charge.
Wanderers, who are hopeful that their takeover by Football Ventures will be concluded soon, have only five senior players under contract, keepers Remi Matthews and Ben Alnwick, and midfielders Jason Lowe, Luke Murphy and James Weir. Another senior midfielder, Erhun Oztumer, opted to leave to join Charlton just over a week ago.
Lambert says it’s sad that clubs such as Bolton and Bury are in such parlous states: “It's terrible, it’s a shame it really is. Professional football in this country, it's a worldwide country for football and I'm pretty sure there are loads of people looking at that and thinking, 'What’s happened?’.
“It's a real shame and should never happen. For one reason or another, it's happened but in professional sport it's not healthy.”
Regarding manager Parkinson and his assistant Parkin, he added: “I saw Phil towards the tail end of last season, and I thought it looked straining for him, him and Parky up there, who I know really well.
“It's a shame, but there must have come a point where they thought enough's enough and obviously the two lads have decided to do it.”
Asked whether it must be tough on Bolton’s youngsters, their well-being given as the reason for Tuesday’s postponement, Lambert pointed out that his own team also includes a number of young players.
“I'm not so sure,” he said. “My own team is riddled with young kids, and my own team is expected to go out there and play in front of 25,000 people, could be more if you get momentum, our own kids have to handle it.
“Wayne Rooney, for example, played Premier League football when he was 16, so I'm not sure I go with that argument. I can understand teams been frustrated and saying ‘Why has the game been called off?’, I totally get it.
“But if I look at my own team, Idris is 18, Woolfenden has just turned 20, Downes is just 20, Dozzell is just 20, Kenlock is 21, Emmanuel's 22, we've got Dobra 18, Bailey Clements 18.
“So my own team is riddled with young ones, but we've got a different scenario on that with the size of the club and the size of the fanbase, but those kids still have to go through a lot of mental stress as well.”
As on Tuesday the Blues are expected to win on Saturday, which Lambert says increases the pressure on those youngsters in his side.
“Guys like you [the media] are putting pressure on the kids, so there's a double-edged sword there, you're saying about Bolton's kids and my kids but now you're saying the pressure's on, why do you say that?”
After it was pointed out his squad includes the likes of Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse, Tomas Holy, Jon Nolan and Toto Nsiala while Bolton have fewer senior players at present, Lambert responded: “You mentioned five. The younger ones outweigh the older ones here, and that's the thing. So there can't be a double standard for one club, there has to be a realism and we have young players here that will make mistakes, who'll play in front of 25,000, who are expected to try.
“We don't have a team of experienced lads, we have a decent mix, but some are really young who have to go through playing professional football.”
But Lambert accepts his team will go into the game as most people’s favourites: “Everybody will look at us because of the size of the club, but we've still got a young side ourselves. Whether we're favourites or not I'll let other people decide.
“They took a good point off of Coventry, and I'm pretty sure [Sky Blues manager] Mark Robins got asked the same kind of question, but you've got to go up there and earn the right and have the right attitude and the right mentality to win.”
Lambert says the Blues’ youngsters were in a similar position as Bolton’s kids last season as they were involved in Town’s Championship relegation.
“The only difference mine have got is that we did the same with them last year, we put them in,” he reflected.
“Go back a year and the kids playing in the Championship then, there's no real difference. We have one or two older ones to help them through it, but they've got to play in front of 25,000 people, that brings its own pressure.
“I heard Big Sam [Allardyce] saying it, and he was right, about playing the games - the only way kids are going to learn is if they play the game.
“I said before, our own team is young but I trust the young kids to go and play, I don't have problem at all about them playing, so Idris [El Mizouni], for example, has been playing really well and I took him off at half-time because it's part of the upbringing that he's going to have to go through.
“[Armando] Dobra did well against Luton, and I left him out, Bailey [Clements] did well against Luton, and I left him out.
“It's part and parcel of the game that they have to go through and they have to learn, they have to go through the extremes of the highs and lows because you'll have a lot of highs, no doubt about it their careers will have a lot of highs.”
Looking back at the week’s two late goals which saved a point at Peterborough and then claimed the win against AFC Wimbledon, he added: “I think when you have that support, that support was relentless on Tuesday night. It was absolutely brilliant. That drives you on.
“When we got the equaliser I thought there was a good chance could nick it because I know something can always happen, especially when you have people like [James] Norwood up there and [Kayden] Jackson or Danny Rowe or [Gwion] Edwards or Anthony [Georgiou] or Judgey [Alan Judge].
“There are things that can happen, and we kept on knocking on the door, and I think we got our just reward.
“I think we're playing well at the minute, and we're ready for the games. We've got a fabulous support behind us that's driving us on.
“On Tuesday night I think everybody stayed in the stadium and it was bouncing at the end, and if we're going to achieve anything here, then we need the support.
“You take each game as it comes and you try and win every game you play, I'm pretty sure we'll have a big support up there again. Tomorrow, we have to go and do a job and try and win.”
Lambert started with a 4-3-3 system on Tuesday before switching back to 4-4-2 in the second half. Does he feel it was that that led to the late victory? “I pick a team and system that I think can win a game, lads that I think need games to get their game time up as well.
“I thought we had a lot of the ball in the first half. The stats show Wimbledon had one chance and scored one goal.
“We had a lot of the ball without really creating, Norwood had two good chances, I thought. If he takes one of those then the game opens up, but Wimbledon scored and they sat in and made it difficult.
“I made a change at half-time [Georgiou for El Mizouni] and brought Kayden and Judgey on and slowly but surely the game changed, but the three lads that came on gave another dimension to it.” Is 4-3-3 the system he’d ultimately like to play regularly? “Not really, no. Whatever formation wins is the one.
“The lads are playing well at the minute. There's a lot of enthusiasm there, [Will] Keane and the rest coming in has given it a lift as well. We're in a good place at the minute, and we just have to keep it going.”
He added: “The philosophy stays the same, the way we try and play stays the same, that mantra stays the same.
“The system and personnel can change, but the philosophy is still the same, and the lads know the philosophy I like to work to, so that will always be there.
“Whether it's high tempo or if we pass, that's always the mantra for the football club. I think going forward with the other side of systems and players is another part of it, but the philosophy is the same. If you play for me or if you play for this club you have to be a certain type of player.”
Lambert says those players need to be able to cope if the system changes from match to match.
“You have to deal with it,” he continued. “You have to adapt, that's football, it's not changed since the game was invented.
“We need a squad, we need everybody to go the same way, and I always think if you sacrifice me for we, then you'll be fine.
Reflecting on the season’s tally of eight points from four games which has seen his team into fifth in the table, Lambert added: “It should have been more. I think we should have beaten Sunderland. Especially in the first half, I think we should have had more than what we got.
“But the start is what it is, we've started well enough, and I think there's a lot more to come.
“We’re playing well and the feeling about the football club, not just the football club but in the town, there's a really good momentum at the minute.”
Lambert, whose side could end Saturday afternoon top of the table if they win and results elsewhere go in their favour, seems certain to stick with Holy in goal with Myles Kenlock continuing at left-back.
At right-back, he seems likely to give Kane Vincent-Young his Town debut with Janoi Donacien dropping to the bench.
Skipper Luke Chambers will probably return at the heart of the defence perhaps alongside James Wilson, allowing Luke Woolfenden a rest, the youngster having started all the Blues’ League One games so far.
Lambert seems likely to return to 4-4-2 against the Trotters, which will should see Skuse and Flynn Downes in the centre.
Danny Rowe or Gwion Edwards will be on the right with Anthony Georgiou making his full debut on the left and Jackson and Norwood the front pairing.
Bolton will be without two long-term absentees, defender Josh Earl and forward Connor Hall (both ankle), while Liam Edwards (also ankle) and midfielder Dennis Politic (hip) will also miss out against the Blues.
No members of either squad have played for the opposition but young Bolton centre-half Harry Brockbank and keeper Remi Matthews were both linked over the summer.
Historically, the Blues just have the edge, having won 20 times (18 in the league), Bolton 13 (nine) and with 12 (11) games between the teams ending in draws.
Town are unbeaten in 12 against Bolton, winning seven and drawing five. Their last defeat was a 3-1 reverse in the FA Cup at Portman Road in January 2005.
The Trotters’ last league win against the Blues was the 4-1 victory in Lancashire towards the end of 2001/02 which all but confirmed Town’s relegation from the Premier League.
The teams last met in Lancashire in April in a game which was twice under threat, firstly due to a potential staff strike and then because of an IT failure.
Once the match was finally confirmed in the early hours of the day it was taking place, loanee Collin Quaner’s two first-half goals saw Town to a 2-1 victory, while Josh Emmanuel converted a late own goal.
Quaner headed the Blues in front on 33, then added his second with a shot on the turn 11 minutes later. Town saw the game out largely comfortably after the break until a cross bounced off Emmanuel and over the line in the fourth and final minute of injury time.
At Portman Road in September last year Town recorded their fifth successive home draw at the start of the season as Bolton left Suffolk following a hard-fought 0-0 stalemate, despite having been a man down for 47 minutes.
The Trotters lost Marc Wilson to a red card on 34 after he hauled down Jackson but the Blues only created one serious chance - a Chambers header brilliantly saved by Ben Alnwick - having been reduced to 10 men themselves late on when Jon Walters suffered an injury which ended his Town loan, and ultimately his career, with all three substitutions already having been made.
Saturday’s referee is Kevin Johnson from Weston-Super-Mare, who has shown nine yellow and three red cards in four games so far this season. Johnson will be refereeing his first Town match.
Squad from: Holy, Norris, Donacien, Vincent-Young, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Clements, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Skuse, Downes, Dozzell, Huws, Judge, Edwards, El Mizouni, Rowe, Roberts, Georgiou, Jackson, Norwood.
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