O'Neill: Lambert Contract Offer Not Premature
Thursday, 6th Feb 2020 16:20
Blues general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill has dismissed suggestions that it was premature to offer manager Paul Lambert the new five-year deal he signed on New Year’s Day.
Discussions regarding Lambert’s new contract began when his side were flying high at the top of League One but by the time pen was put to paper, Town were towards the end of a run of 12 matches without a win in 90 minutes, while following an upturn at the start of the year which saw them back to the top, the Blues have lost their last two matches and are now fourth.
“No, I feel what we have at the club, which is something I feel the club has needed for a long period of time, is a plan of how we’re going to try and achieve something,” O’Neill responded when asked whether the new contract had been offered too soon.
“Our plan might be slightly different to other clubs and we’re looking to put infrastructure and platforms in place for the future of the club.
“Yes, results on a Saturday don’t always go the way that we hope and we have frustrations in that process when we lose a game of football. I hate it as much as the next fan does.
“But I think that’s where it’s fair to say you don’t judge it on a week-to-week basis, you judge it at the end of the season and where we are at that point and then we can appraise what went well and what didn’t go so well during that process.
“What we have got at the moment is a manager who is fully aware of where we’re at as a club and wants to embrace what we’re trying to do, knows it’s a difficult job but is willing to work very hard along with all the other staff here and the players to try and bring the club back to where it should be in the higher leagues.
“And that planned process, it goes through recruitment, looking at the windows, looking at developing the players, the style of play, all those things that we’ve been talking about, it doesn’t just happen overnight otherwise everybody would be doing it.
“It does take a sustained period of time and that’s not always the easiest thing for both supporters and players to understand. We are trying to build something and it will take a bit of time.”
Many fans would see failing to go up this season as disastrous, but O’Neill says whatever happens the footings are being put into place for the club to move forward.
“The idea when we talk about these situations with the manager that the longer term plan is that it’s going to take time to build a team and a way that he wants to play over a period of time,” he said.
“Managers don’t always get a long period of time to do that and I think that’s where I think [owner] Marcus [Evans] has been really good in allowing that development to happen.
“It’s not always as easy as going and buying players, putting them all together and building the perfect team, it takes time to know strengths and weaknesses and having a stable platform is really important for the club going forward.
“By doing what’s happening at the club that’s allowing us to have that stable platform and build for the future.
“It may get there really quickly and if we manage to achieve it this year, then absolutely brilliant, that’s what we set out to do.
“However, in saying that, the longer term picture is about building a team which might need to go through some of the experiences to build for future years to come.
“Some of our players haven’t been in this situation before where they’re going for a title and the different pressures that that brings on a daily basis and a weekly basis in terms of performance.
“They’ve got to learn to deal with them but that doesn’t just happen overnight, it only comes through experience and that experience will be built up this season and next.
“The objective is obviously is to try and get there as quickly as possible but making sure we have the platform underneath it that’s able to sustain the next level of competition.”
If the Blues don’t go up, then it seems likely that some players would move on with a number having attracted interest during the transfer window.
“I can’t answer that question, from my point we’re trying to build, so the answer would be no,” O’Neill said when asked about the prospect of departures if Town aren’t promoted.
“But a player that has aspirations to play at a higher level and doesn’t want to sign a new contract, for example, maybe.
“But if they see what we’re trying to do and see how hard people are working and enjoy their football, then that’s what we hope they can be part of going forward.”
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