Lambert: Hard Work is What Will End Downturn
Friday, 10th Jan 2020 13:30
Boss Paul Lambert says it will be hard work not systems that will get the Blues out of their current run of bad form and again defended his rotation policy.
Town, down to fifth in League One, last won in the league at Rochdale on November 5th eight matches ago, while they’re without a victory over 90 minutes in 12 matches in all competitions.
Asked what it takes to get out of such a run, Lambert said: “Hard work, getting intensity. Our intensity dropped for the last few games from what it was.
“That was apparent. Lads were dominating the games, we still had most of the ball, still had most of the chances.
“We had I think 73 penalty area entries against Bristol Rovers, 73 penalty area entries but scored one goal. Seventy-three! Incredible.”
He added: “It’s keeping that hard work going. And that’s why I said never hide from it. The hard work will pay off if you keep going and don’t turn away from it, it’ll come.”
Asked whether he felt a settled system might help the players in the current situation, he responded: “It’s funny you saying that because I was reading Kevin De Bruyne’s interview the other day and he was saying Manchester City practiced for 15 minutes before they played Manchester United and won 3-1.
“It’s not systems, you have to get that out of your brain. It’s the player, how smart the player is to deal with it.
“Good players will fit into anything, it doesn’t matter. Good players fit into anything and that’s the secret of it. The more intelligent players you have, the game becomes easier.
“It doesn’t matter what level you’re at. Whether you’re at that level with De Bruyne saying that [or whatever].
“I never played in a midfield four until I went to Borussia Dortmund, I never played in a back three. As soon as I was thrown in I could work it, I knew how to play it.
“It’s about the intelligence of the players, it’s not about systems, that’s the biggest cop out ever, that is. I don’t care what level you go to, good players will fit into any system.”
While the Blues have kept the ball well in recent matches, they haven’t turned that possession into goals. Does he believe there is a nervousness in and around the area at present with players making an extra pass rather than shooting on occasion?
“There could be that, it could be just with the expectancy level and people trying too hard with certain things,” he reflected.
“You talking about Kayden Jackson’s one against Bristol Rovers? And Judgey tried it. They’re trying things for the right reasons, it’s not as if they’re not trying it.
“The guys have been really good training-wise, playing-wise I don’t have a problem because they’re not hiding from the ball. If they keep putting the hard work in it’ll turn.”
Asked whether he understood some fans’ frustrations with his much-discussed rotation policy, he added: “We’re a squad that would never have handled everybody playing all of those games for the reasons I’ve told you - lads being young, the older guys, how can you ask a 34 or 35-year-old guy to play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday and Tuesday?
“They’re dead before Christmas [if you do that], it’s dangerous for them and we had to do the right thing.
“It’s put us into a really good position, we’re still in a really position, and we’re only halfway through the season.
“There’s a helluva lot of football to be played and we don’t have too many injuries at all, we don’t have any muscle injuries at all.
“You look at the Premier League, Newcastle lost five guys through injury, Tottenham have lost their best striker [Harry Kane].
“When you play a lot of football, it’s dangerous so we had to watch and I knew the amount of games we were going to have here, it was right.”
Might he scale it back between now and the end of the season? “No, now we’re only focused on the league. If you’ve got the shirt, my advice to you would be keep it.”
Lambert says he’s aware that things can turn very quickly in football: “Massively, that’s the game. But you can never ever let it weigh on your shoulders and players now in the modern-day game can be a bit weaker with it and want to read things, hear things and say things.
“My advice is stay away from that and concentrate on the football because that’s the most important thing and the only opinion that a player has to worry about is the mangers because he either picks him or doesn’t.”
He says that players can be affected by those outside factors: “I think the young lads definitely. Even the older lads, it might affect those guys as well.
“They need everybody’s help with it and we try and help them. The support has been unbelievable.
“Yes, they hear the odd thing, but the football club has come a long way. You’ve got to remember that the young lads aren’t used to this, this pressure of this type of [situation where] we have to do something, they need that little bit of help and pressure affects everybody differently whether you’re old, young or not.
“If you’re not used to it can become a bad thing to have, but you have to get your chest out, get your backside up in the air and go through it and you make sure you turn it around.”
Asked what his message to supporters is ahead of Saturday’s home game against Accrington, he said: “Do what you’re doing, get behind them. They’ll make mistakes, everybody will, not just the young guys the older guys will make mistakes.
“They need everybody’s support, and if they have that that fear factor will leave them, it’s just the weight of it, of 'we must, we must, we must, we must'.
“And that’s what they have to live with, and you have to live with that as a footballer when you’re at a big club and trying to have success.
“Football is a lot in the mind there’s a lot of mental toughness that you can get through it and if you get through it your ability is always there, it’s always there, that’s never ever going to leave you, it’s the actual surroundings.
"Whether you play in front of an empty stadium or a full stadium, the whole dynamic of the game changes because you have to be brave enough to take the ball.
“And that was the most pleasing thing at Wycombe, they took the ball, and as I said before, I don’t care if you’re in a phone box when there’s five guys around you, you take the ball at every opportunity you can, and that was the most pleasing thing.”
Are you starting to learn about some of your players during the current run? “You’re getting to see people’s characters and people come to the forefront and people [who find] this is a bit tough.
“You get to see all that but as I said before the big thing for me is don’t hide, don’t hide from it.
“That’s the only criticism I’ll give you is if you start to hide from the ball and you don’t take responsibility then it becomes a problem because I don’t want people to not enjoy their job or not take the ball in the pressure moments.
“For me, I don’t like it if you don’t take the ball because that’s not healthy for you as a footballer or if you’re trying to aspire to be a footballer it’s never hide from it.”
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