Lambert: Just Another Game, You Win Nothing in November
Monday, 25th Nov 2019 14:10
Boss Paul Lambert is treating Tuesday’s top against second match with his old club Wycombe Wanderers at Portman Road as just “another game”. The Blues manager insists he isn’t concerned that the Chairboys increased their lead over his side to five points via Saturday’s 1-0 injury-time victory over 10-man Doncaster with much of the season still to be played.
Lambert says he’s not looking at the match any differently because it’s a first-v-second clash.
“It's another game,” he said. “We live with pressure every day, this football club lives with pressure every day. It won’t change.
"It won’t change long after I’m away, it won’t change because of the size of the fanbase. Nearly 20,000 here again on Saturday was unbelievable.
“It’s brilliant, the atmosphere in the stadium was brilliant and I’m happy that the fans are coming back, the town’s getting involved with it. The club’s going the right way.”
Speaking after Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Blackpool and Wycombe’s defeat of Doncaster via Joe Jacobson’s 92nd-minute penalty, which stretched the Chairboys’ lead at the top to five points, Lambert was far from concerned.
“It’s a disaster that, isn’t it? Absolutely unbelievable disaster, honestly. I think we've played 45 games, we’ve one game left, it’s an absolute disaster!” he joked.
“We’ve played 16 games. Can we lose the title this month? Can we? Maybe not.
“Let’s see what happens in May. We’ve got two games in hand. We’re a good side. Make no mistake about it, we’re a right good side. It’s November. You get nothing in November. We’ve lost a couple of games all season.
“Let’s see what happens in May. We’re a good side and we’re playing really well. A team [Blackpool] came here and sat in and sat in and sat in.”
Is he surprised Wycombe are at the top of the table? “I don’t know. I normally concentrate on our own [team]. Great start, I’m pretty sure if you ask [Chairboys manager] Gareth [Ainsworth] he’d be saying the same as me. Let’s see what happens. You get nothing in November.”
Lambert was in charge at Wycombe between June 2006 and May 2008 during which time the club, his first in England, played 108 games, winning 44, drawing 29 and losing 35.
Reflecting on his time at Adams Park, he added: “Good club, really good little club at that time. We got into a play-off and we got into a [League Cup] semi-final, which was great.
“I had some good guys there, really good players there. Good little club, a lot of good people there.”
He says he’s still in contact with commentator Alan Parry, who has a long-time association with the club and is a former director.
“AP’s still there. The only thing wrong with AP is that he’s a Rangers fan!” Lambert laughed. “But he’s a good guy.
“I don’t know if [president] Ivor [Beeks] is still there or not. If he is then hopefully I’ll see him. Matty Bloomfield played under me, he’s still there. I had a good time.”
Former Blues midfielder Bloomfield, Wycombe's captain, is a regular visitor to Playford Road coaching academy youngsters and Lambert says the two have crossed paths on a couple of occasions: “I’ve only seen him once or twice, I’m not really seen much of him.”
Lambert could stick with the 4-3-3 system utilised against Blackpool with Wycombe usually operating in a similar formation.
That may depend on the fitness of James Norwood. If the striker, who recently underwent groin surgery, is considered OK to return, as seems likely, then the Town boss may opt to go back to 4-4-2 with the former Tranmere man partnering Kayden Jackson.
Will Norris will continue in goal with Luke Garbutt again set to be the left-back. Kane Vincent-Young could be back after his groin operation on the right, which would be harsh on Janoi Donacien, who was among the Blues’ more impressive performers against the Tangerines at the weekend.
The Town manager could look to rotate one of his centre-halves - most likely Luke Woolfenden - which would probably see James Wilson return to the XI.
In midfield, Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes have been virtual ever-presents in the league this season and if Lambert moves back to a four-man midfield they’re likely to be in the centre.
If he plays three midfielders then they’re likely to keep their places but Lambert could rest Jon Nolan and bring in either Andre Dozzell of Emyr Huws.
Alan Judge seems likely to be in the wide left role whichever system Lambert employs with Danny Rowe or Gwion Edwards on the right.
Following Saturday's victory over Doncaster, their fourth League One win in a row, manager Gareth Ainsworth said he would assess his squad today, the Chairboys having had a tough week with last Tuesday's FA Cup replay at home to Tranmere having gone to extra-time before the visitors - who coincidentally had also been reduced to 10 men - ran out 2-1 victors.
“We look forward now to picking the boys up, seeing where we are Monday morning with them all and going to Portman Road, which is phenomenal for Wycombe Wanderers fans and Wycombe Wanderers players,” he told his club's official site.
“Bringing anything back on Tuesday will be a result for us. They’re a strong side, favourites for the league I think, and rightly so.
“Paul Lambert obviously managed here and knows the club and has managed at the top level. It’s going to be a test.”
Away from home in League One this season, the Chairboys have won three, drawn four and lost only once, at Gillingham in September.
Town and Wycombe will be meeting in competitive action for the first time. The game was initially set to be played in October but was postponed due the Blues receiving international calls.
Blues right-back Donacien spent a short spell on loan with Wycombe between August and September 2015, making two starts.
Wycombe stalwart Bloomfield, 35, came through the Town academy and made one senior appearance as a sub before joining the Chairboys in December 2003. The Felixstowe-born midfielder has now made played more than 500 games for the Buckinghamshire side.
Tuesday’s referee is Alan Young from Cambridgeshire, who has shown 76 yellow cards and two red in 18 games so far this season.
Young is yet to referee a competitive Town first-team game but was in charge of Town’s 2-0 July 2012 friendly victory at Cambridge United and the 1-0 U21 Premier Cup defeat to Southampton at Portman Road in November 2014.
Squad from: Norris, Holy, Vincent-Young, Edwards, Donacien, Garbutt, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Skuse, Dozzell, Downes, Huws, Nolan, Judge, Rowe, Georgiou, Jackson, Norwood, Keane.
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