Chambers: Gaffer Helped Lift the Pressure
Friday, 7th Feb 2020 12:35
Luke Chambers has revealed how manager Paul Lambert reacted in the dressing room following last week’s embarrassing 4-1 home defeat by promotion rivals Peterborough, his team’s second successive setback after the 1-0 defeat at leaders Rotherham just four days earlier.
According to club captain Chambers, who is on track to make his 350th first team appearance for the club in the home game against Burton Albion tomorrow week, Lambert chose not to dwell too long on the setback and instead opted to look ahead to final 15 games of the campaign that will decide the Blues’ fate.
Chambers said: “The gaffer came in and said ‘Look, we’ve got to re-focus now. Get yourselves away and when you come back in we’ll attack these next 15 games’.
“I think that helped to lift the pressure a bit. We got ourselves so het up – ‘We’ve got to win, we’ve got to win, we’ve got to win’ – and I think that can take some of the edge off your performance.”
The double setback saw Town drop down to fourth place but they remain very much in contention for an automatic promotion slot, sitting three points adrift of the Millers and just two away from second-placed Wycombe, although it is clear completion is fierce with as many as 10 clubs believing they have a chance of claiming one of the coveted top six places.
Chambers added: “I haven’t really looked at the league table; I just know how we’re ticking along. People can make of it what they want. Whatever you say that appears in the media becomes gospel, so it’s just how you handle that situation.
“If you look at the things that are being said, you can use that as fuel to drive you on or to just toughen you up and fully focus on the job in hand.
“I think we have enough big players and personalities to cope with the situation. The form around the turn of the year was something we needed to sort out – and we did that.
“I don’t think there is any shame in being beaten in the last two games because of the way our opponents have been playing.
“As a big club like Ipswich we don’t have a given right to beat anyone in this division. We all want to get back to the league above – that’s no secret – but you have to just take your medicine when it comes and it’s about how you respond and recover.
“We had a very difficult period before Christmas and we bounced back from that to end up back on top of the league, so there’s no reason why we can’t get to the end of next week in a different position again.”
Until the back-to-back defeats by Rotherham and Peterborough, the Blues had managed to string together a five-game unbeaten league run after boss Lambert decided to revert to a new-look formation modelled on that of Sheffield United, who have followed promotion from the Championship last season by climbing to fifth in the Premier League in the current campaign.
Chambers added: “I feel I’m very fit so the system suits me personally and also Woolfy [Luke Woolfenden] because he’s a very good footballer.
“James Wilson has done well too. But we lost our last two games and I don’t think we played it as well as we would have liked.
“We started well against Peterborough and it looked like we were going to go and make a difference in the game. But when you give teams, especially those at the top of the league, an opportunity they are more than likely to take it.
“We’ve just got to be better in our system at the minute because although it seemed to be working we need to remember we lost our last two games.
“I’m enjoying it and I’m enjoying getting forward. I’d rather be going forward than defending at the minute and if Woolfy and I can help to make things happen then we’re all for it.
“We’re enjoying the fact that we’re not only playing regularly but also in the same position.”
Asked if he always felt he had more to offer than operating as an orthodox central defender, Chambers replied: “Well, I’ve obviously done it in the past. I maybe don’t have the best reputation as a right-back but I’m pretty sure I played there in the team that reached the Championship play-offs, so I can’t be too bad at it.
“I’ve always made no secret of the fact that I prefer to play as a centre-half, but feeling as fit and strong as I do right now going forward I not only think I have something to offer, I also believe I have demonstrated it in the games I have played there so far.
“If picked on Saturday I’m looking forward to doing it again, if that’s the way we decide to go.”
Town will be forced into at least two changes at Sunderland tomorrow with left wing-back Luke Garbutt laid low by the thigh strain that forced him off early in the home defeat by Peterborough, while opposite number Gwion Edwards will have to sit out the next two games by virtue of a ban picked up along with his tenth yellow card this season, also against Posh, his former club.
Chambers has linked well with Edwards in a number of games and the skipper added: “I think Gwion plays better when he’s playing regularly and he’s played himself into a nice little position for us. But Kane Vincent-Young has been a big loss for us because he came in from Colchester and set the stadium alight before he got injured. Hopefully, we can get him back for the run-in.
“But Janoi [Donacien] has been fantastic when he has played and if that’s the way the gaffer decides to go, if we keep the same system, he’s got a hell of a lot more to come when he has the insurance of me behind him and is able to get forward.
“He’s a very, very fast lad and he’s good at attacking when the shackles are off him a little bit. He can really, really blossom in that position.
“It’s up to everyone to fight for their place. The gaffer has made no secret of the fact that if you’re performing well you’re going to stay in the team so there could be changes afoot after we lost the last couple of games.”
Manager Lambert’s much-maligned rotation policy appears to be a thing of the past. Asked if the players played any part in the decision to implement a different formation, Chambers replied: “The gaffer obviously made the decision because at the turn of the year we were looking for some consistency in our results. That’s why it came about.
“We could have been sat on five straight league wins but we didn’t get the win at Wycombe or again at Oxford, where we felt we should have had a clear penalty and potentially a red card.
“We can look back at all the games and they could have been so different in terms of eventual outcome.
“The gaffer has put the pressure back on us now and told us ‘You’ve got the shirts so it’s up to you to stay in the team’. I think that’s the way it should always be as a player.”
Meanwhile, Chambers echoed the many views that Town’s refusal to cash in on rising stars Luke Woolfenden and Flynn Downes, both of whom had attracted considerable attention from Championship and Premier League clubs, has reinforced the chance of hitting their promotion target.
He said: “I don’t really think that we were ever going to let them go. I don’t know if anyone bid enough money to make Marcus [Evans] pick the phone up – that’s probably what happened.
“They have both been fantastic and we shouldn’t be looking at those two to get us out of any holes and produce absolute wonders for us between now and the end of the season.
“They have done absolutely brilliantly to get to where they are. Flynn has been one of the best players in the entire division, as has Luke because he’s been a big part of us having such a good defensive record this season.”
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