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O'Neill: Squad is Competitive Enough to Be Challenging for the Title
Thursday, 6th Feb 2020 16:03

General manager of football operations Lee O’Neill believes the squad is good enough to get Town promoted even though January saw minimal incoming business.

Josh Earl effectively replaced Toto Nsiala, who joined Bolton on loan, but there were no other senior additions.

Quizzed on whether he believes the players at manager Paul Lambert’s disposal should be capable of winning promotion, O’Neill said: “Yes, we think the squad is competitive enough to be up there and challenging for the title, basically. That’s what we set out at the start of the season.

“We know that’s going to be difficult and we know it’s not going to be easy to achieve that.

“There is competition for places when you look at the starting line-up, when we look at profiling the two or three we have in each of those positions, there’s competition.

“It’s up to the players to perform really well and each one to keep his shirt. When we are looking to bring in another player they’ve got to be better than what we’ve got and a player that wants to come and play for Ipswich Town in League One.”

O’Neill and Lambert have both commented on the “incredible” money being asked by clubs for loan players.

Asked what sort of sums were involved in the proposed deals, O’Neill wouldn’t be drawn into specifics.

“I’m not going to comment on the amount of money but the principle of what I was trying to explain was that if we take a player from a bigger club, the reason why that player is being allowed out of that club is to go and get game time, that’s the only reason he would be going out.

“If we then take the player in that situation, in order to make that happen, we would have to put certain things in place.

“For us, if it’s a younger player coming from a bigger club, there are no guarantees that he can deal with this environment, that he’s played in this situation etc etc, it’s a gamble.

“It could work out really, really well and he could be the best thing ever and it’s the best decision but we don’t really know until he’s in that situation.

“And then for us to take that financial gamble as well as player gamble, it’s not always the best option.

“We’ve also got a number of players here that we have to make decisions on. Some of whom you’ve highlighted.

“The balance of the two doesn’t necessarily weigh itself up, we’ve invested already in some of our players, we’ve got an opportunity to give them some game time between now and the end of the season and see where they’re at in relation to their contractual situation or even their performances - can they handle the next level if we did manage to get promoted into the Championship? Could they handle that process?

“All of those factors were taken into consideration when we were looking at all of the types of player and we had a criteria that we were trying to achieve. If we were bringing in a player that that player was ready to go and could make a big difference to what we’ve already got at this moment in time.”

He added: “It wasn’t that we weren’t actively trying to look to recruit players, it’s making sure we can recruit the right type of players that are available to us and we need to go forward in a bigger picture, not just the next three or four months.

“Of course, there’s not an open chequebook to go and buy whoever we want, that’s the business part of the club that we’re trying to operate but at the same time, if we felt there’s a right player and at the right price, we would approach Marcus and try and get the financial backing and I’m sure he would support us in that situation.

“Finding those right players at the right prices is the difficult area, we’re constantly facing a challenge at the moment and that’s something we’re embracing to try and make the squad stronger going forward.”

One source of frustration to fans was the sale of Bartosz Bialkowski to Millwall but with no funds made available to manager Lambert.

TWTD understands the deal, which as things stand is worth significantly less than the fee agreed in the summer before the initial move broke down but with further cash due to the Blues as Bialkowski plays games and based on other milestones.

“It’s difficult to comment on him in particular,” O’Neill said.“But a deal is never as easy as saying ‘There’s a transfer for a player, and there’s a fixed amount coming in the door that we can reinvest’.

“His situation in particular is ongoing and is slightly different. In some cases it’s spread over a long period of time and it’s spread over X amount of appearances and stuff like that.

“It’s a difficult one to comment on because for him in particular, he had his own pathway, he’s enjoying playing football for them and I think that was the right decision for both Ipswich Town and for Millwall.”

Town had a week at the beginning of the window when they could have recalled Bialkowski in order to sell him to other clubs with Cardiff and Blackburn both understood to be keen, although evidently without firming up that interest.

The Blues might also have waited until the summer to see whether other clubs came in for the Polish international at that stage, perhaps yielding a higher fee.

“It’s one of them, you might get less,” O’Neill added when that scenatio was put to him. “You can look at it both ways. There’s always that argument, you never know what’s going to happen in the future, a player could get injured tomorrow and that’s him out for the rest of the seasons.

“A player can go on to play every game and be the best player in the team every week, you just don’t know.

“We weighed up what we believed was the right decision based on a number of factors going into that situation and it think it was the right decision for the club and Bart going forward.”

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BeattiesBackPocket added 16:10 - Feb 6
He knows we haven’t beaten any team in the top 8 yet right?!? More spin ‘Evans my boss and pays me is great’ we beat Lincoln and tranmere recently but that doesn’t mean anything even Southend beat Lincoln last weekend how can he possibly say this!? There are 5 players max who would cut it in the championship that says it all and one of those is Garbutt who isn’t even ours! Come on people stop being sucked in by the same speeches every week from players and managers etc our squad is average in a very average league completely outplayed by Rotherham and Peterborough that’s how far we’ve fallen as a club. I know we have no Devine right however the downfall has come during Evans tenure that is plain to see!

r2d2 added 16:32 - Feb 6
O Neil is just another mouth piece, trotting out the same old spin that Clegg and Milne trotted out before him. Evans little puppet.

TractorCam added 16:43 - Feb 6
How can this article be followed by "Lambert contract not premature" ?

It shouldn't even be up for debate if the squad is competitive, on paper it's the best in the league. To go from 7 points clear of 3rd to then drop down to 5th after 0 wins in 10 and then offer the manager a 5 year deal is completely ridiculous. If we don't get promoted then Lambert has failed hard.

Radlett_blue added 17:14 - Feb 6
The usual whining about how much decent loan players cost. We're getting a little bored with this, especially when we have one of the 2 largest wage bills in this league.

norfolkbluey added 17:33 - Feb 6
Absolutely on the mark TractorCam. I think Lambert had done a good job up to Christmas but so many bad results recently hardly fills supporters with the confidence that we are going back up. His choice of players has been strange at times and tactics leading up to goal scoring opportunities is devoid of any creativity. Norwood has spent far too long on the bench in order for players to form a relationship with him. He should have a nailed on place in the team as should Holy who has the build and presence and command in his area.
I have to say that Lambert's five year tenancy is premature and poor business acumen. If he fails this year it has to come down on him with such a strong squad. To then question his position would cost the club dear if he were asked to leave. His credentials are not that good for a five year contract. I want him to succeed of course I do but has he shot his bolt............who knows. I hope not, as I want this club to be good again. I have supported the town since 1961 and we have never been this far down the leagues in that period. Much of this has been down to poor management and missed opportunities.
I would like to see a clear strategy and an honesty by the club keeping us properly informed and in the picture. Money spent wisely is now a priority but please ME not on players from lower leagues anymore and don't let the likes of Waghorn go again cheaply.

Cloddyseedbed added 17:44 - Feb 6
Whatever league we find ourselves in we are underfunded and not able to bring better players in. We will continue to struggle and work our way down the league placements. Our squad is too big and we are carrying too many players who are nowhere near the team or likely to be and of course we continue to pay players who only play a handful of games per year because of injury issues. Our management and coaches should also shoulder a lot of the blame as well as the owner, they seem to find it difficult to get the players to play as a team and fight for every point. Every team I have seem against us this season seem to have that extra desire and commitment, they may not have as much skill or earn as much money as our players but they more than make up for it in organisation and endeavor. If all our money is going on wages and poorly performing players then something is wrong. It is a managers job to manage and get the best out of the players available. Lamberts results record is not good is it? 5 year contract, I'd say we're in the poo! For us to continually keep dropping down the league places it's shows the club is poorly run from top to bottom. Don't blame the fans, we have a great fan base.

OwainG1992 added 17:54 - Feb 6
I mean this squad is good enough to challenge for the title.

Churchman75 added 18:15 - Feb 6
Strong squad yes

8th best starting 11 - that’s the issue

Michael101 added 19:21 - Feb 6
He wasn't there Saturday then??

madmouse1959 added 19:27 - Feb 6
A competitive squad but is it a squad that can compete in every game ? Whatever the conundrum of a team that is put out we lose games when the other team decides to play just a little better. The player clear out will not happen. Evans must believe this fan support will last forever despite the poor football on offer. When our best young players do get sold it will be proof that all is not right at this club again.

ITFCsince73 added 19:30 - Feb 6
Same old. Chance to strengthen. Not taken.
Now without 2 of the better starting 11.
As I’ve said many times, half the squad good enough. Half not good enough.
Same old. Big money wasn’t needed. Just a tweak here and there.

RegencyBlue added 20:22 - Feb 6
Am I alone in thinking our squad is nowhere near as good as some people seem to think?

We certainly have a big squad but that doesn’t equate to quality. Judge is a classic example in that I thought he would rip this League up but he’s a shadow of the player he was. Bishop and Huws? Good players when fit but both spend more time in the treatment room than on the pitch. Dozzell promises a lot but delivers very little and so it goes on!

Downes and Wolfenden apart I really don’t see much to get excited about from what I’ve seen so far this season.

chepstowblue added 20:47 - Feb 6
Bishop,Dobra and Lankaster are the 3 jewels for me. Woolfenden has a decent future if his woeful distribution improves. Downes for me is a very average player.Good without the ball and a tireless engine,but hardly special in possession and with almost zero creativity. This squad lacks pace,spark and invention. And when what little confidence drains out of them it's pretty miserable viewing .The biggest surprise for me was what we did in the first 11 games,that was some achievement after last season. We are now where I thought we'd be.In with a shout along with 12 or 13 others. What goes against us currently is the fact that our spiral in downwards.The other so called big hitters are getting their acts together. Need a momentum swing...and fast.

Dolphinblue added 20:50 - Feb 6
Agree..we should have strengthened but still current squad should be strong enough for promotion..

ITFCsince73 added 20:55 - Feb 6
Some poor advice was given to Downes and the Woolf about 5 years ago.
Downes was told to study Skuse. The Woolf Chambo.
It’s just a case of Coaching that bad advice out there games.
Then they will come good.

ITFCsince73 added 20:56 - Feb 6
Agree 🐬. That’s if every member of the 1st team squad is fit and ready.
Which they aren’t.

Dolphinblue added 21:00 - Feb 6
Chambers has been good this season...

wilnisfan added 23:59 - Feb 6
McCarthy was the only recent manager to be able to bring in players for no money and have to sell them for a big profit.

Lambert is yet to do that, so I'm not sure what the long term planning is. You can't build a team of youth players in league one and hope they take you up to the premiership. You will just end up like Crewe Alexander..

braveblue added 05:09 - Feb 7
Utter nonsense. Another useless waste of money.

ITFCsince73 added 07:58 - Feb 7
Good at what Dolphinblue. Please explain.

Northstandveteran added 09:48 - Feb 7
I agree, this squad is competitive enough to challenge for the title.

I think that's what frustrates us fans.

It's easy to blame the management I know but Lambert needs to prove his worth.

I still think we'll get promoted but as I've previously posted, this will be because of other clubs, with smaller squads losing players through injuries etc.

Not because we have a good team.


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